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

Unique Program Offers the Opportunity to Engage in High-Level Research

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.

You had me at bonjour!

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.

McFadden Instills Critical Thinking Skills in Students

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. 

Embracing Your Talents

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. 

St. Mary's Community Fund Announces 2022 Grantees

St. Mary’s Community Fund (SMCF) is a student-led, grant-making organization established in 1998. The mission of SMCF is to “educate young women about the importance of philanthropy through hands-on community service, fundraising, and grant-making.”

Upper School Art Show

Last week we hosted an Art Show showcasing and celebrating the work of our Upper School students. The collection, curated by Upper School Art Teacher Mrs. Andrea Fletcher, highlighted the creativity and talent of our students. Students had the opportunity to show their creativity to their families at the reception and show in the Levy Gallery at the Buckman Performing Arts Center.

Global Education Discusses the Impact of WWII on Japanese Americans

This month, the SMS Global Education Program had the honor of virtually hosting guest speaker Sam Mihara. In 1942, when Sam was nine years old, the United States government forcibly sent Sam, his family, and people of Japanese ancestry living in the American West to internment camps. Sam and his family were sent to a prison camp called Heart Mountain in northern Wyoming, where he stayed for three years. 

Youth and Government Conference

Dr. Dalton Lyon traveled with a group of girls interested in legislation to Nashville, Tennessee. This was the first conference that has been held in 3 years due to COVID-19 and everyone was so excited to be back in action! This conference gives students the opportunity to to have a hands-on experience in state government. Students can serve as senators or representatives, as justices and lawyers, as department commissioners and lobbyists, or as press corps members.


Last month, the Buckman Performing & Fine Arts Center welcomed sell-out crowds for the Upper School production of Mary Poppins. The spectacular show wowed audiences for six performances. 

Jewish Student Alliance Welcomes Holocaust Survivor to Campus

St. Mary’s Jewish Student Alliance (JSA) hosted 102-year-old Mr. Sam Weinreich, one of the few living survivors of the Holocaust. JSA members Sydney Shanker and Lea Thomas helped introduce Mr. Weinreich to our Middle and Upper School students, faculty, and staff in Chapel.

Lauren Rogers

Head of Upper School

Carla Evans

Admin. Assistant to US Head

Upper School Office

60 Perkins Extended
Memphis, TN 38117


Contact us

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.