I attended this school from 2011-2013, before transferring to another private school. Academically, this school does an overall average job. The math department lacks a lot of focus in the classroom, but the history and science departments to a great job. However; if your child is not placed in advanced classes freshman year, it is extremely difficult to move up into them later. Socially, this school is very cliquey. It is difficult to find a circle of friends and many of the girls simply are not welcoming. I also found that extracurriculars claiming to be "fun" were centered around competition as well. That made it difficult to participate in things without feeling as thought I was having to cut others off for my benefit. I loved the location and the teachers, but the social environment of competition really made my experience less than positive.
The difference was this schools ability to follow up with hand written letters and student follow up with a phone call asking our daughter and if she had any questions. This school had so many little nuances of thoughtfulness in the application process that set it apart. All correspondence had pre addressed returned envelopes provided. Our name was spelled correctly on all letters and when we called into the school for answers to our questions they were so organized they knew my daughters first name. The student ambassadors entertained my younger daughter during the interview process and when we picked her up she said "Dad this will be my school". Almost all the schools are having growing pains as buildings are being upgraded and modernized. This school is the first to have a I pad wireless learning system for high school students. This program eliminates most text books as they are preloaded on the device.. A positive for back health is with the new I-Pad program my daughters backpack will weigh much less. Please go see plays at each school you are interested in then when you arrive for St. Mary s play you will think you are on Broadway in N.Y.
My 8th grade daughter just went through the High School admission process. We did extensive research including speaking to many current and past students and thought I would share our impressions. SMA received high marks for a great learning environment and some outstanding teachers. Many past students commented that they thought they were well prepared for college. Most reported high over all satisfaction with their experience. However, there was one area of concern for us--class size. When asked, a larger number of current students than we would like said that they had one or more classes with near 30 or more students. Most class sizes were around 25 with some classes smaller than that. This may not have made a difference for some but it did for us coming from the Portland School District.
This parent also pointed out the fact that SMA is affiliated with the Archdiocese, yet not bound to it. "If you want a real Catholic education, this isn't the school." This is untrue. She begs the question, what is a real Catholic education? One where the real priests--the patriarchal ones--shove their ultra-religious opinions down modern-thinking, gossiping, and texting teenage girls? Those priests would be disrespected and therefore, no teenage girl within a 20 mile radius would want to be associated with the Catholic faith. SMA gives us a window to see the Catholic faith in a modern and positive perspective--something that many parishes lack--while continuing to give the gift of beautiful and (almost) ancient faith traditions. Obviously this parent s daughter was not utilizing all the assets that SMA has to offer in the faith development area, because as a Catholic I feel extremely supported, involved, and respected by my community.
Our child has been at St. Mary's for a couple of years. We believe she has received an outstanding education in an extremely supportive environment. However parents and prospective students should be aware that the school is in the process of expansion which includes constructing an additional building and increasing enrollment. In fact, last year the school increased enrollment from about 25 to 50 students with a consequence increase in some class sizes. Parents and students considering St Mary's should ask some hard questions of administrator about this issue and what the school is doing to insure that class sizes do not increase.
It was my choice to attend St Marys and I have never once regretted it. It has an absolutely wonderful and incredibly supportive environment where students from all backgrounds can thrive. The academics define a new standard for excellence and I am challenged every day. It is a lot of work but the pay off is enormous. The no boy aspect contributes to the closeness of the community and is liberating in the classroom and beyond. The best choice for a high school education for any young girl.
I would have to disagree with a comment about St. Marys Academy. Yes we are a Catholic School, but by being so, we believe we have an obligation to understand other cultures, and therefore gain more insight beyond what is rudimentary. Our science teachers are excellent, as well as our English department instructors. You are sure to find a community atmosphere at St. Mary's Acadamy, with which, us students are able to accomplish much.
St Mary's Academy was an outstanding choice for my daughter. Her through grounding in the basics (Math, Science, Religions, Languages, History, Computers, Psychology, Theater and Music) along with an AP Art class and an extraordinary college essay (The English department has a particular emphasis on writing) got her into the top art school in America. When she graduated in June she received an award for leadership. She credits SMA with "making me realize that my ideas are just as valid as anyone else's in the classroom ... I found that this confidence is rare in women who haven't gone to all girl schools." SMA is not for everyone, it is expensive (although, there are scholarships), and it is academically challenging, they are not a remedial school. However, if you daughter is interested and you can afford it, SMA is a great choice. One other odd side benefit is that by being downtown she saw the ravages of drug and alcohol abuse in the homeless and steered clear of those substances.
St. Mary's Academy is an excellent school! I attended St. Mary's and the community is absolutely outstanding! The teachers, staff, and of course friends, are incredibly supportive and want to see you succeed! If you are looking for an incredible education, supportive atmosphere, and a place to meet fabulous friends then St. Mary's is for you! Also, it's religious if you want it to be!