Every year, Senior students are tasked with delivering one of the most introspective assignments of their St. Mary’s career, the Senior Speech. Each twelfth-grade student must speak to her peers in Chapel, reflecting on her St. Mary's experience. The tradition was introduced in 2005 by English Department Chair Shari Ray. The speeches aim to help the girls improve their public speaking and communication skills.
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.
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
Congratulations to Leah Balkaran ’23! Balkaran was named a QuestBridge Scholar, an honor that includes a full scholarship to Washington and Lee University.
Join St. Mary's Global Education Program as we travel to Chicago, Spain, and Germany, Czechia, and Poland in 2023.
Two St. Mary’s students and a faculty member are helping to shape the global curriculum here and across the country. The school is one of 22 named as a Leading Partner in Global Dialogues by Global Education Benchmark Group (GEBG), a collection of K-12 schools that researches and establishes model practices in global education.
Turkey swimmer Grace Ciaramitaro ’23 will continue her athletic and academic career at Vanderbilt University. This month, Ciaramitaro signed with the Commodores swim team. Ciaramitaro has had an accomplished swim career at St. Mary’s and has been an essential part of the Upper School team. She earned seven first-place medals over three years at county and state meets.
St. Mary’s student Bianca Dishmon ’24 was one of 30 volunteers and only two students selected for “Our Next Era” Planning Committee, an initiative of recently re-elected Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. The committee, comprised of community leaders from various fields and areas of expertise, was tasked with providing ideas and solutions to help guide the Harris Administration’s next term. Dishmon and one other student were selected to participate from a pool of 150 applicants for the commitee.
The Honors Independent Research Study (HIRS) program offers a unique opportunity for rising juniors and seniors to conduct an original, engaging research project of their choosing. HIRS students begin their research project in the summer by completing hands-on work in partnership with a community mentor who is an expert in the field.
St. Mary’s senior Maggie Akers was one of 23 students who traveled to France recently as part of the school’s Global Education Program. St. Mary’s Global Education program encourages students to investigate the world, recognize perspectives, communicate ideas, and take action.
Working at St. Mary’s is a “destination job” for Upper School World Language Chair Pat McFadden. In his 22 years at St. Mary’s, Dr. Mc Fadden has taught countless girls grammar, literature, history, and culture of the Latin language.
Julie Millen says, “I want my students to learn that they are talented in a multitude of ways.” As Chair of the Fine Arts Department and Director of Upper School Choir and Chamber Ensemble, Ms. Millen teaches her students to embrace their artistic talents, giving them the instruction and skills they need to grow as both a performer and a student.
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.