St. Mary’s has it all: rigorous academics, incredible arts, competitive athletics, and a positive outlook on everything. Rather than focusing on the difficulty of the courses, my teachers concentrated on each individual student's understanding of the material. They always encouraged everyone to participate in the class discussion and answered every question thoroughly and honestly. And they stay involved. While I was still at school, they constantly stopped me in the halls just to check in and say hi. And even though I’m gone now, I am welcomed back with open arms every time I drop by St. Mary’s. That sense of family is priceless.
From Pre-K, St. Mary’s encourages artistic expression. The art teacher, Mrs. Carte, teaches the history and styles and techniques of visual art, while still allowing each student the freedom to explore. Whether we chose to be a musician, a dancer, an actor, or a singer, Mrs. Jungers celebrated each individual talent and presented it in a musical, assembly, or chapel service.
Our athletics especially showcase the unconditional sportsmanship of our school. While remaining competitive, students learn that showing grace, win or loss, is just as important as any ability to play the game. Everyone is encouraged to try out for a team, and most people do. I gave everything a try, and while I didn’t play every sport well, I was always encouraged by my coaches and teammates. They helped me realize that it’s not always about how talented you are; effort and attitude are more precious than ability here.
St. Mary’s also makes an effort to show every student what a difference they can make in the world. In my eighth grade year the theme was water, and everyone in the school got involved in an outreach project involving water. Rather than complaining about how much needs to be fixed in the world today, St. Mary’s set to work. We collected rain in rain barrels to conserve water in Tampa, and we donated time, money, and love to help purify water for children in Africa. While helping other people halfway around the world, we inadvertently created a stronger community within our school.
Public speaking, soccer, creative writing, audio/visual production… at St. Mary’s, these were a part of everyday life, so natural and fun that I didn’t even realize what valuable skills I had acquired. But that’s just the magic of St. Mary’s. This school made me feel secure, even when trying new things. It provided the resources I needed to actually attempt these new skills, and the encouragement to see them through. I am so thankful for the school that helped me shape my life, and I hope that whatever I do with it will make St. Mary’s proud.