Loretto and St. Mary’s Academy
In my 42 years at St. Mary’s Academy (SMA), it is my current work as Director of Loretto Projects/Historian that is perhaps most satisfying, as it provides opportunities to share Loretto with students, faculty and parents. In anticipation of SMA’s 150th anniversary in 2014-2015, Deirdre Cryor, then SMA president, created the position with the goal of more fully integrating Loretto’s story and mission into the life of the school. Last year, Christina Garcia, middle school Spanish and religion teacher, also took on this role, assuming responsibility for Loretto in middle school. Christina is a co-member-in-process.
Our work involves creating opportunities for every student to grow in living the Loretto school values of faith, community, justice and respect and to embrace Loretto’s mission and appreciate the rich history of both SMA and Loretto. With students from age 4 through high school, this takes many forms.
For young students, it’s about kindness, and small ways they can be respectful and community-minded. For middle and high school students, it’s learning about issues and taking responsibility.
Loretto, especially the values, is integrated throughout the lower school curriculum and a focus on assemblies and in a Loretto Day. The middle school experiences Loretto through Christina’s Living Loretto and Be the Change classes where Loretto members share their insights on issues of the day.
Each high school grade has a year-long Loretto theme focused on Loretto role models, environment, justice and peace and carrying Loretto values forward in their adult lives. The contributions of Loretto members enrich those sessions, and it is humbling that when asked, Loretto Community members say “yes,” even if they haven’t been in a classroom in a long time or if they haven’t presented via Zoom. Thirteen have presented this year on topics as varied as prayer, immigration, the environment, animals at the St. Louis Zoo, the Motherhouse Farm, leadership, the U.N. and the Volunteer Program. Their presence strengthens our connection to Loretto.
A long tradition of Loretto Leaders recognition in middle and high school highlights exceptional commitment to the Loretto school values. In lower school, 24 Loretto Leader students serve the community the entire year. This year, each student partnered with a Loretto member, exchanging letters to get advice on being a good leader. The students loved it and took the advice to heart.
These are just a few examples. There are many ways that Loretto underlies the diversity, equity and inclusion work and service learning across SMA. Earth Day and Foundation Day are already all-Academy celebrations, and International Day of Peace is fast becoming an all-school event.
SMA faculty and staff are committed to Loretto. We begin the year with a presentation on Loretto history and mission, and Christina’s capstone project for Regis University helps forge connections. Selections from Loretto mailings and emails are great resources for knowing about events, issues, ideas that are bubbling up and for getting involved. Faculty joined Loretto at the Martin Luther King Marade and last month’s Foundation Day service at the Loretto Heights Cemetery. Additionally, we encourage parents to grow in their understanding of Loretto.
Christina and I make presentations at admissions events and new parent gatherings. My weekly blog in “Wildcat Weekly” often has a Loretto sensibility. Now that life is more normal, there will again be presentations for parents on Loretto history, Loretto today, our SMA story and the ways our campus reflects Loretto.
The desire to “be Loretto” runs deep in our SMA community, and for that Christina and I are grateful and heartened.