Upper School

Grades 9-12

In Upper School, students are immersed in a rigorous college preparatory curriculum that extends beyond the classroom to provide real-life experiences.

From the performance stage to community outreach, from the athletic field to Chapel, our independent high school girls learn to collaborate, inspire others, and achieve their goals. Athletic, artistic, musical, and community-service opportunities ensure these years are exciting and memorable. 

St. Mary's is a private all girls high school, located in Memphis. Our dedicated faculty recognizes and respects the unique ways in which girls learn best, teaching an academically rigorous curriculum while simultaneously going beyond the classroom walls to provide "real life" experiences. As they become lifelong learners, the students are encouraged to think critically, creatively, and independently.

Each girl’s program of study is as unique as she is. Every year, we meet one-on-one with each girl and her family to discuss course options that best fit her interests, goals, and extracurricular life. All students must enroll in five academic subjects that meet the requirements
for each grade, but they also have the opportunity to add a wide range of non-academic and elective courses. Our goal is to create a program of study that focuses on each girl’s strengths and interests.

As a result of the extensive academic, athletic, artistic, and community-service opportunities that are available, our students become confident leaders who have a positive influence on their community. Read about student life at St. Mary's.


Mind Body Wellness

Our Mind and Body Wellness class includes two days a week in the strength and conditioning center learning basic fitness concepts and conditional techniques to give girls a foundation for lifelong personal fitness. The other two classes are focused on building a healthy lifestyle including nutrition, sleep, and relationships to help girls meet the demands of life.


Community Service

St. Mary’s girls give back through the St. Mary’s Community Fund, a student-run organization that raises money, makes grants, supplies volunteers to local children’s organizations, and teaches social responsibility. Since its founding in 1998, St. Mary’s students have had firsthand experience in the art of philanthropy and fundraising, granting a total of more than $500,000 to more than 40 local agencies. Our students participate in volunteer efforts, not because it is required, but because it is their responsibility. 

Our Unique Schedule

Unique to St. Mary's, our daily schedule strategically allows students time to process information, meet one-on-one with teachers, and work collaboratively with one another.

The structure of two classes followed by a break is based on current brain research into how girls learn best. We especially treasure our ALAPP period when all student and teacher schedules are open for the purpose of built-in help sessions and collaboration.

In addition, the St. Mary’s College Counseling team plays a key role in preparing students for college entrance and beyond. St. Mary's emphasizes a classic, rigorous, liberal arts curriculum that is designed to allow each girl to achieve her individual potential and to discover the inner resources she will use for a lifetime.


Upper School News

Students in front of stage

This month, students in the Honors Independent Research Study (HIRS) program and a participant in the St. Jude High School Student Summer Fellowship presented their final projects. The HIRS program offers a unique opportunity for rising seniors to conduct an original, engaging research project of their choosing.

Understanding Humanity through Visual Arts 

Upper School Art Teacher Andrea Fletcher hopes that St. Mary’s art courses will spark a passion in her students and encourage a lifelong interest in art and the many lessons it espouses. In fact, the Upper School offers visual art courses for every grade level, allowing students the opportunity to opt to take art courses throughout the course of their high school career.

Students leans over desk while working on assignment

When Michele Loden started teaching at St. Mary’s 10 years ago, she remembers being surprised at how many of her students were anxious about higher-level math classes. “My mission became: How can I help girls reduce their anxiety and recognize they can be excellent at math?” said Loden, who serves as Math Department Chair.

Students holding St. Mary's flag in front of tower

Over fall break, 24 Upper School students and faculty traveled to Spain for an immersive week-long trip as part of St. Mary’s Global Education curriculum. The trip took the students on a tour of central and southern Spain, starting in Toledo with stops in Córdoba, Sevilla, and Granada before reaching their final destination of Madrid.

Congratulations to our National Award Recipients

We're proud to share that 11 Upper School students were recently recognized nationally for their academic achievements as National Merit Semifinalists, National Merit Commended Students, and National African American Recognition Award recipients. 

Students Engage in Conversations about Belonging and Equality

Earlier this semester, Upper School students in the Facing History and Ourselves book club met weekly to discuss one woman’s struggle for equal access to education. Judith Heumann, regarded as the mother of the disability rights movement, wrote Being Heumann: An Unrepentant Memoir of a Disability Rights Activist. Heumann was paralyzed as a result of polio as a baby.

Congratulations to the Class of 2023!

Last week, we celebrated the Class of 2023 at St. Mary's 138th Commencement. Congratulations to the 63 deserving graduates. This impressive class earned acceptance to 157 universities and will venture to 45 different colleges and universities in 23 states.

Upper School Students Document Memphis History

For more than eight years, St. Mary’s students have chronicled the restoration of local historic buildings for the Legacy Project. A brainchild of Upper School Art History Teacher Nancy Prillaman, the project's goal is to document the restoration of neglected sites in Memphis through photos and notes.

St. Mary's Excels at Youth in Government Conference

Last weekend, 41 St. Mary’s students traveled to Nashville to participate in the Youth in Government Conference (YIG) organized by the YMCA of Middle Tennessee Center for Civic Engagement. St. Mary’s students shined at this year’s conference, earning several accolades and leadership positions. 

Discovering Her Potential

The summer before her senior year, Dowling spent six months working on a research project with a team at Rhodes College. She’s one of nearly a hundred students who, in the last 10 years, have conducted high-level research alongside local experts as part of St. Mary’s Honors Independent Research Study (HIRS).

Lauren Rogers

Head of Upper School

Carla Evans

Admin. Assistant to US Head

Upper School Office

60 Perkins Extended
Memphis, TN 38117


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Upper School Offerings
29+ Clubs
5 Student Publications
12 Honor Societies
18 Athletic Teams
80+ Course Offerings

Senior Speeches

All Speeches

Click here to view senior speeches from previous classes.

My Honors Independent Research Study (HIRS) experience not only provided me an opportunity to learn more about the inner workings of the research process but also allowed me to study environmental science and public health on a level that I would probably have not seen until college. Riya V.