Saint Mary's kicks off 176th year of excellence in girls education
Mary Virginia Swain '77C

Following an exciting welcome week during which students returned to campus for registration, move-in, and orientation, the 176th year at Saint Mary's kicked off officially with the first day of school, Monday, August 28.

Classes began Monday morning, following the annual Opening Convocation for the school community in historic Pittman Auditorium at 8 a.m. Faculty processed into Pittman wearing their academic regalia, and seniors processed for their final opening convocation. Head of School Brendan O'Shea and Dean of Teaching and Learning Leslie Owen welcomed students to the convocation, where each faculty member was introduced with their academic credentials. Mathematics Instructor Matt Watson, winner of the 2017 John U. Tate Joy of Teaching Award, delivered an endearing keynote speech filled with wit and wisdom about learning and life.

The entire student body filled the first floor of Pittman for the traditional convocation. This year's student body includes students from 10 states, including Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, North Carolina, New Mexico, New York, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia; and eight nations, including the United States, China, Korea, Ukraine, Vietnam, Croatia, Jamaica, and Ghana.

The 2017-2018 school year brings several exciting initiatives and the enhancement of existing programs.

On the academic front, COMPASS Leadership Development and Exploration Day programming have been merged into one entity – Compass/Explorations. The combined program will allow students to build core competencies, extend their learning into the Raleigh community, apply their knowledge, advance their critical thinking, and develop their leadership capabilities.

Three exciting learning partnerships with HQ Raleigh, Cisco and TEALS will provide new ways for Saint Mary's students to connect with and benefit from the vibrant and innovative Raleigh community of experts, entrepreneurs, and professionals in one of the country's top-ranked cities for living and working.

Saint Mary's new partnership with HQ Raleigh, an entrepreneurial hub in Raleigh, will expose girls to entrepreneurs who are making a difference in our community. The program will provide hands-on learning experiences and offer students, faculty, and staff access to leading social entrepreneurs in the Triangle area, as well as HQ Raleigh's beautiful event and co-working facilities within walking distance of Saint Mary's campus. The program will be piloted this fall by a small group of students participating in a year-long design thinking initiative.

Saint Mary's School continues and expands its partnership with Cisco, a worldwide leader in networking and IT with facilities in Raleigh. This partnership will offer new opportunities this school year for Saint Mary's students to explore STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics).

Saint Mary's is proud to be an official TEALS (Technology Education and Literacy in Schools) site this year. Funded by Microsoft Philanthropy, TEALS focuses on computer science and coding initiatives. The program places high-tech professionals in high school classes to teach as volunteer instructors. This fall, these computer science experts join Saint Mary's in a team-teaching model tailored for Saint Mary's students in the new Introduction to Coding course.

A new head of school, new students and faculty, new programs, and the beginning of a new quarter century at Saint Mary's – all add up to an exciting start of a new school year in the long and storied history of Saint Mary's School.