Catholic Schools provide a unique environment that allows students to grow in their faith while performing at high academic levels in a community of dedicated educators, parents, and advocates. The National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools’ (NSBECS) nine defining characteristics of Catholic Schools flow directly from the Holy See’s teaching on Catholic schools as compiled by Archbishop J. Michael Miller, CSB (The Holy See’s Teaching on Catholic Schools, 2006), and from statements by Pope Benedict XVI and the American bishops. These characteristics, grounding the standards and benchmarks, summarize Church teaching regarding the deep Catholic identity of Catholic schools (NSBECS).
In his book, Archbishop J. Michael Miller talks about the five essential marks that must be in place before a school is truly Catholic in the eyes of the Church. The five marks of an authentically Catholic school are 1) inspired by a supernatural vision, 2) founded on Christian anthropology, 3) animated by communion and community, 4) imbued with a Catholic worldview and 5) sustained by Gospel witness.
As the challenges of an aggressive secular culture mount, Catholic schools have been both embattled and emboldened. In every aspect of programs, activities, and life, Catholic schools should foster a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Catholic schools must remain an educational community with an emphasis on the dignity and respect of the human person God created them to be. It is precisely in the Gospel of Christ, taking root in the minds and lives of the faithful, that the Catholic school finds its definition as it comes to terms with the cultural conditions of the times (The Sacred Congregation for Catholic Education, the Catholic School, 34, 35).
An excellent Catholic school is guided and driven by a clearly communicated mission that embraces a Catholic identity rooted in Gospel values, centered on the Eucharist, and committed to faith formation, academic excellence and service (NSBECS Standard 1, Marks of a Catholic School 1,3).
St. Mary’s High School’s mission of existing to educate students in the Catholic tradition to be responsible, moral, critical thinkers and leaders acts in accordance with NSBECS in that scholarship and faith belong together.
Essential to St. Mary’s pedagogy is the formation of the whole person in the image of Jesus Christ. As such, we seek to integrate Catholic values and morals into our curriculum, to develop the whole person to excel spiritually, intellectually, academically, physically and socially. We encourage academic rigor throughout our curriculum while focusing on the needs of individual students. Our accredited college-preparatory curriculum is a rigorous course of study in the core fields of theology, English, mathematics, science, social studies, world languages, fine arts, physical education, and communications. We offer AP, honors, and dual enrollment options. St. Mary’s theology department, unique to Catholic schools, weaves in our catholic faith throughout the students’ four years. Our faith-life and campus ministry must extend to all aspects of our curriculum and community: classrooms, clubs, sport teams, fine arts, community service, and our class retreats.
In the current time of secular challenges, St. Mary’s seeks to provide an environment in the Catholic tradition where students have an opportunity to pray, celebrate the sacraments, and freely seek to know, follow, and proclaim Jesus Christ. Our students' successes are a testament to the extraordinary talent and commitment of our teachers, staff, parents, and countless others who support Catholic schools and help St. Mary’s accomplish our mission to be an excellent Catholic high school (NSBECS Standard 2- 4, Marks 2,4,5).
Prayer for Catholic Schools
Dear Jesus, let your light shine in our Catholic schools. Let your grace rain down, bringing hope to each person we encounter, bringing wisdom to our teachers and leaders, bringing strength in times of trial. Protect us from harm. Let the children come to You, for the kingdom of God is theirs. St Thomas Aquinas, patron saint of Catholic schools, pray for us.