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St. Mary's School

Private | PK-8 | 760 students

We are best known for academic excellence and balance.

 
 

Living in Aliso Viejo

Situated in a suburban neighborhood. The median home value is $348,500. The average monthly rent for a 2 bedroom apartment is $2,210.

Source: Sperling's Best Places
 
Last modified
Community Rating

4 stars

Community Rating by Year
2014:
Based on 8 ratings
2013:
Based on 9 ratings
2012:
Based on 2 ratings
2011:
Based on 11 ratings

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72 reviews of this school


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Posted March 22, 2014

As a previous post stated, we need to give credit where it's due - our children have learned a lot! Academically, St. Mary's is a superior school. However, administration plays favorites - money talks at this school. In the last year, we've seen a lot of kids with major behavior problems get admitted because their parents money. It seems there is no longer any regard for school climate - just raising money for a build-out and high school. There is limited interaction between teachers and parents - twice a month we get a very generic grade specific email stating 3 things they did in school that week. Otherwise, there is no sense of community or any feeling that our teachers have any sense of who our children are at heart. In fact, one teacher has done nothing in regard to the bullying she knows is going on in her class. Do your research-they are selling Disneyland, but in reality it's more like Stepford. At the end of the day, it's all about money, which is terribly disheartening to see in a so-called "Christian" school. It's a very materialistic place - surely not what Father Sillers had in mind when he started the school - they've really lost sight of Christian values....
—Submitted by a parent


Posted March 13, 2014

We decided to pull our children out after a year at St Mary s. Credit where credit is due. St Mary's is very good academically, hands down. But it is not all about academics, children need to feel they belong, have a sense of purpose and that they are connected. Their guest speaker: Dr Michael Thompson-the pressured child, conveyed that message to the parents.I want my children to be raised with a strong set of academic, spiritual and community values/ expectations. St Mary s offers hands down the first. However, there is no sense of community at this school, it is heart breaking to see my children in lower school suffer thru the very settle discrimination (not from teachers). NO room in this school for a set of professional, fiscally conservative and frugal parents, making $400K-$500K that do not invest in the St Mary's plastic image.There are many private schools in Orange County that are more inclusive and grown up. They provide close or same quality education for a third and sometimes a fourth of St Mary s. If you want value for your money, this is not necessarily the best place, it is good. If you measure your self-worth based on the St Mary s Label, welcome home.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted March 11, 2014

As the other posted stated, asking about a private jet and yacht have no place in regards to a school application!! If your vision is for elitism with no substance, this might be your place. Adults are competitive and it makes me sad that that's what is being taught to children...People aren't serving the right God. Materialism prevails as usual. This school is aimed at money, just like many of the parents... It's sad that even parents are so insecure that they have to compete even when they are grown.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted February 27, 2014

We have been at St. Mary's for three years and are very happy with the education and environment. Our kids look forward to going to school each day and are have smiles on their faces when they come home. The sense of community is strong and the IB curriculum is outstanding. Our teachers have been approachable and really care about the development of the children. They only complaint is the rapid rise of tuition. We want our kids to have the best education possible and hope we can continue going to this wonderful school. It would be sad to see a lot of good families leave due to the increasing tuition.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted February 4, 2014

This school is awesome!! My daughter attended public elementary school and is now attending St. Mary's for Middle School. This school has exceeded our expectations. The faculty and staff are beyond caring and go out of their way to make sure your child is happy and on target academically. The kids and parents are also really great too. I am so happy we decided to send her to this school. And yes paying the tuition is tough but way more affordable than other private schools and all of the extras like study hall until 6:00 PM and tutorial are great because they are included in the tuition. I way paying a ton of money to support her when she was in public school - arts classes (because they are non existent in public school) tutoring (because her public school teachers were awful because they were overworked) language classes (again not offered at public school) and aftercare. So I feel I am getting a lot for tuition. But most of all peace of mind. Happy child=happy mom and dad!
—Submitted by a parent


Posted January 31, 2014

My child has been going to St. Mary's for 2 years now. It is quite disheartening to see how spoiled the parents and the children are. Most of the parents I have encountered are a little too superficial for me. It reflects on their kids behavior. I want my kids to have a good education but not at the expense of sacrificing their values. Money talks in this school. When I initially filled out our family profile, they were questions regarding, owning a private jet, a yacht, etc., Superficial much? I am taking my child out of this school and I have already found another private school that will nurture him as a person not just as a source of cash.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted January 15, 2014

St. Mary's has far exceeded our expectations for our children, in a number of ways, and we could not be happier with our school. We have a child in each division,, and in our three years here each of our children has been inspired, stretched, and appropriately challenged. The IB curriculum, with its inquiry-based, student centered approach, has strengthened their knowledge base as well as their abiltiies to think critically, collaborate with others, and creatively solve problems. They have also benefited from the rich offerings in the arts, athletics, world languages, and other enrichment opportunities. Just as importantly, they have made many good friends, are so happy, and look forward to school every day. The teachers are passionate and dedicated, and we just received word from the school that over 70% of them hold advanced degrees. We did our homework three years ago and visited a number of other private schools in the area. We could not be happier with our choice of St. Mary's as the best school and community for our children. Submitted by a parent
—Submitted by a parent


Posted January 14, 2014

We have been at St. Mary's for several years now and have become quite disillusioned with the "vision" and we are looking elsewhere. When we applied, we were told that the tuition is stable - it is NOT! It has gone up every year since we've been here, the latest hike has been 8%. They seem to be in constant fundraising mode. Parents aren't welcome in the classroom on a regular basis -and it pretty much takes an act of congress to get into my daughter's kindergarten class. Some of the teachers are true gems, but this year both of our teachers are cold and aloof - unfortunately the administrators seems to value only the teacher's education and not their basic nature and character. They also seem out of touch with the community they claim to serve. When we joined this school, we loved it - it was a great school that seemed to cater to average, middle-class families who valued community. They are in the process of alienating many of their "average" families in favor of those who have money and title and the former sense of community has been left behind for the sake of elitism. What once seemed like a hidden gem of a school has lost it's luster.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted August 28, 2013

My child has attended SMAA for two years now. I diligently searched many private schools throughout Orange County before deciding on SMAA. We have been pleased with our selection. The teachers genuinely care about the students. The administration is always trying to improve the quality of the education. The parents are very involved. The school invests in the facilities and teachers to provide quality education for the students. The school also promotes a sense of community which we really value. Overall, I don't think you will be disappointed sending your child to SMAA.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted August 20, 2013

I can't believe this school does not have 5 stars. There is no better K-8 school in Orange County. The programs, the curriculum, the faculty, the IB program. The school incorporates all aspects of children's best learning. There is an excellent fine arts program too. The gym is right out of a movie it's so great. I have 3 children. One graduated 2 years ago and was more than adequately prepared for high school. I have a current 6 th grader and 2nd grader. It is truly a great, great school!
—Submitted by a parent


Posted August 3, 2013

This school has a big price tag with little return. We selected St. Mary's because we thought that the IB education would give our children a better advantage over traditional learning methods. We were sadly mistaken. The academics that St. Mary's is providing the children is well below standards. When questioned parents are told to "trust" that they have selected the best curriculum for your children. St. Mary's and their Head Master make it very clear that they run their school like a business. They make the rules and if you don't like it you can go somewhere else. We are greatful that we figured this out early enough to make a difference in our childrens future education.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted June 18, 2013

I have been a parent at St. Mary's School for over ten years and am so grateful for the amazing education my children have received. Not only are the teachers and staff excellent, but the community of the school has always been warm and inviting. The IB curriculum has helped form my kids into inquisitive learners who are always excited to come to school. Though my kids are happy to be on summer break, they are already looking forward to the next school year. St. Mary's is an amazing school!
—Submitted by a parent


Posted June 18, 2013

My child attended St. Mary's for two years (grade 3 and 4)- she had excellent grades while attending St.Mary's. We were not happy with the school or teachers, and were shocked to find that she was unprepared mathematically for the public school system. So much was skipped over, it was a huge waste of money.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted June 16, 2013

This review is not for the faint of heart. Like many others, we had high expectations for St. Mary's. My siblings and I all attended private Jesuit schools and wanted to raise our children with the same academic upbringing. We've been disappointed with St. Mary's agenda. It's clear St. Mary's is more focused on money than education. The proof statements: 1) Head Master made a direct point to me that this school is a business, 2) teachers told me this school is not intended for dual income parents, 3) academic calendar is shorter than public schools which are suffering cutbacks and furloughs, 4) countless fund raising events, 5) requesting donations from grandparents during their school tour. As you can see, it's important to do your own due diligence. If you place a higher emphasis on exclusivity over academics, then this school is an option.
—Submitted by a parent


Posted May 21, 2013

The interview process at this school is a joke. My 5 year old son was denied admittance for tapping his pencil during the interview. They suggested we get him "occupational therapy". Our son excels academically and has never had a behavioral issue at school. After his denial we decided to put him in Montissoree and could not be happier that things played out the way that they did. Their academics at St. Mary's are fair at best, as demonstrated by our sons reading capacity since his time at Montissoree vs his friends at St. Mary's. The level of education this school is providing is on par with the local blue ribbon schools but costs $14k more. For the money Montessori is a much better choice. Our opinion of course...
—Submitted by a parent


Posted January 31, 2013

This is my second year at St. Mary's and I am currently an eight grader. My experience was amazing because I moved from another country and it was hear sometimes getting used to the situation however the teachers are so kind and the education at St. Mary's is amazing. I am placed in an honors math level and I got to experience great leadership at St. Mary's. I am a straight A and honors student and everyone gets confused right... but the teachers are always there either after school or during lunch or you can always email them and ask your questions and they will always email you back. Its a great school and I wouldn't have wanted to go anywhere else.


Posted January 24, 2013

It is our 3rd year at St. Marys and the school continues to amaze me. I love to hear about my son's day and what he is learning. He is always excited and gone are the days of figting about homework. He completes his homework with a friend before I even pick him up. The cost of the schooldoes continue to go up, but so do the amazing opportunities for the students. I worry about not being able to afford the school all the way to 8th grade but it is such an amazing school that I will sell Avon or Tupperware just to make sure he can stay. The community of administrators, teachers, and families is so strong that it feels like home whenever we are there. Not many schools can say that. I am always excited when I can volunteer and help. All that being said, visit the schools you are interested in. Find the school that best fits your child. Just because St Mary's is the best school for my son, it may not be for yours. Just use your gut. It's not often wrong. Good luck in your search!
—Submitted by a parent


Posted October 25, 2012

I am considering this school, being new to the area--but the reason I rated it 5 stars is for 2 reasons: * A couple of professors at Santa Margarita High School told me that this school prepares them well with the IB Programme (Sta. Margarita was voted #21 of ALL private High Schools in the nation by the Washington Post), so I believe them. * IB is not an easy certification to get, you can't just open up a school and suddenly offer the IB, you have to qualify and they have very rigid guidelines. Every single private school we have been to has a group of people who are not happy, so I would judge a school based on what your child needs, where they excel and where they are happy. This world is not just based on Academics but on how we prepare our children to be future leaders/problem solvers and to make a difference in the world - and happily so. :)


Posted September 5, 2012

We have recently enrolled our daughter at the school and found the process to be extensive but are delighted with the friendliness of the faculty and the Campus is stunning . The passion of the teaching staff is evident and the inclusion of parents in community hours with in the school will pay dividends . The only caution is the school is not shy for add ons , snacks , extended care , shorter days and semesters all up . Well worth investment however
—Submitted by a parent


Posted October 27, 2011

This is our second year at St. Mary's and we continue to be impressed with the level of education our children are getting. With two children in Kindergarten and one in preschool we have the benefit of seeing the IB program and how it works in both the Lower School and Preschool. In both areas we are blown away. Our children come home from school excited and enthusiastic about what they are learning and my husband and I often find ourselves wishing we could be attending school alongside them just so that we could participate in the wonderfully creative and hands on learning experiences they have the opportunity to experience. The Headmaster has set the tone at St. Mary's and is doing a fabulous job in leadership. The teachers are warm and communicative. The science lab, language offerings, art program and chapel experience round St. Mary's out to be an overall fantastic place. We love that families are not only encouraged to spend time volunteering on campus but that they are welcomed with open arms. We couldn't be more pleased and can say this after having been at a more well established and more expensive private school not far from St. Mary's.
—Submitted by a parent


Community ratings and reviews do not represent the views of GreatSchools nor does GreatSchools check their accuracy or verify the reviewers' identities. Use your discretion when evaluating these reviews.

About these ratings

The Community Rating is the school’s average rating from its community members (e.g., parents, students, and school staff). The highest possible rating is five stars; the lowest is one star.

We currently do not have any test score information for this school. Unlike public schools, private schools are not always required to report data about their schools or not required to take the same tests as public schools. Many private schools take different standardized tests; however, that information is often made available only to families of enrolled students. We strive to acquire additional private school data whenever available.

Student ethnicity

Ethnicity This school
White 90%
Asian 6%
Hispanic 4%
Black 1%
American Indian/Alaska Native 0%
Hawaiian Native/Pacific Islander 0%
Two or more races 0%
Source: NCES, 2009-2010

Teacher resources

Special staff resources available to students Art teacher(s)
Computer specialist(s)
Dance teacher(s)
Instructional aide(s)/coach(es)
Librarian/media specialist(s)
Math specialist(s)
Music teacher(s)
PE instructor(s)
Nurse(s)
Priest, pastor, or other religious personnel
Robotics/Technology specialist(s)
Security personnel
School psychologist
Teacher aid/assistant teacher
Foreign languages spoken by school staff Arabic languages
Chinese (Mandarin)
French
German
Italian
Spanish
Read more about programs at this school
Source: Provided by a school official.

Special education / special needs

Level of special education programming offered
  • Basic - the school offers or partners to provide services based on the needs of individual students
Extra learning resources offered
  • Differentiated learning programs

Science, Technology, Engineering, & Math (STEM)

Specific academic themes or areas of focus
  • Engineering
  • Mathematics
  • Science
  • Technology
Staff resources available to students
  • Computer specialist(s)
  • Math specialist(s)
  • Robotics/Technology specialist(s)
Clubs
  • Science club

Arts & music

Specific academic themes or areas of focus
  • Arts (all)
  • Music
  • Performing arts
  • Visual arts
Staff resources available to students
  • Art teacher(s)
  • Dance teacher(s)
  • Music teacher(s)
Visual arts
  • Ceramics
  • Painting
  • Photography
Music
  • Band
  • Choir / Chorus
  • Instrumental music lessons
  • Jazz band
  • Orchestra
  • Vocal lessons / coaching
Performing and written arts
  • Creative writing
  • Drama
Media arts
  • Video / Film production
Clubs
  • Yearbook

Language learning

Specific academic themes or areas of focus
  • Foreign languages
Foreign languages taught
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • French
  • Spanish
Foreign languages spoken by staff
  • Arabic languages
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish

Health & athletics

Staff resources available to students
  • Dance teacher(s)
  • Instructional aide(s)/coach(es)
  • Nurse(s)
  • PE instructor(s)
  • School psychologist
School facilities
  • Access to sports fields
  • Gym

Gifted & talented

Instructional and/or curriculum models used
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
Extra learning resources offered
  • Acceleration
School leaders can update this information here.

School basics

School start time
  • 8:00 am
School end time
  • 3:00 pm
Before school or after school care / program onsite
  • Before school: starts at 7:30 a.m.
  • After school: ends at 6:00 p.m.
School Leader's name
  • John O'Brien
Best ways for parents to contact the school
  • Phone
Age at which early childhood or Pre-K program begins
  • 2 years old
Gender
  • Coed
Boarding options
  • Day school
Is there an application process?
  • Yes
Affiliation
  • Christian
Associations
  • CAIS
  • IB World School
  • NAEYC
  • NAIS
Fax number
  • (949) 448-0605

Programs

Instructional and/or curriculum models used

Don't understand these terms?
  • College prep
  • Hybrid
  • International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • STEM
Specific academic themes or areas of focus

Don't understand these terms?
  • Arts (all)
  • Engineering
  • Environmental
  • Foreign languages
  • Global
  • Humanities
  • Mathematics
  • Music
  • Performing arts
  • Religious
  • Science
  • Service learning
  • Technology
  • Visual arts
  • Writing
Bi-lingual or language immersion programs offered

Don't understand these terms?
  • No
Level of special education programming offered
  • Basic - the school offers or partners to provide services based on the needs of individual students
Foreign languages taught
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • French
  • Spanish
Level of ESL/ELL programming offered
  • None

Resources

Staff resources available to students
  • Art teacher(s)
  • Computer specialist(s)
  • Dance teacher(s)
  • Instructional aide(s)/coach(es)
  • Librarian/media specialist(s)
  • Math specialist(s)
  • Music teacher(s)
  • Nurse(s)
  • PE instructor(s)
  • Priest, pastor, or other religious personnel
  • Robotics/Technology specialist(s)
  • School psychologist
  • Security personnel
  • Teacher aid/assistant teacher
Foreign languages spoken by staff
  • Arabic languages
  • Chinese (Mandarin)
  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish
Extra learning resources offered
  • Acceleration
  • Differentiated learning programs
  • Remediation
  • Tutoring
Transportation options
  • Buses/vans for students only
School facilities
  • Access to sports fields
  • Auditorium
  • Chapel/spiritual reflection center
  • Gym
  • Library
  • Playground
Partnerships with local resources and organizations
  • Boys and Girls Club of Capistrano Valley
  • The Covington
School leaders can update this information here.

Sports

Boys sports
  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Golf
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Track
  • Volleyball
  • surfing
Girls sports
  • Basketball
  • Cheerleading
  • Golf
  • Lacrosse
  • Soccer
  • Softball
  • Track
  • Volleyball
  • surfing

Arts & music

Visual arts
  • Ceramics
  • Painting
  • Photography
Music
  • Band
  • Choir / Chorus
  • Instrumental music lessons
  • Jazz band
  • Orchestra
  • Vocal lessons / coaching
Performing arts
  • Creative writing
  • Drama
Media arts
  • Video / Film production

Student clubs

Clubs (distinct from courses)
  • Book/reading club
  • Boy scouts
  • Model UN
  • Science club
  • Student council/government
  • Yearbook
School leaders can update this information here.

School culture

Dress Code
  • Uniforms
Bullying policy
  • This school has a bullying and/or cyber bullying policy in place.
Parent involvement
  • Chaperone school trips
  • Coach sports teams or extracurricular activities
  • Join PTO/PTA
  • Organize fundraising events (school auction, bake sales, etc.)
  • Volunteer in the classroom
  • Volunteer time after school
School leaders can update this information here.

Apply

 

Submit your application by

February 01, 2014

 
 
Apply now
 

What does it cost?

Vouchers accepted
No
Financial aid offered
Yes.

Planning ahead

Students typically attend these schools after graduating
Santa Margarita Catholic High School
Sage Hill School
Mater Dei High School
Notice an inaccuracy? Let us know!

7 Pursuit
Aliso Viejo, CA 92656
Website: Click here
Phone: (949) 448-9027

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