St. Mary’s High School named Catholic ‘School of Excellence’

High academics paired with an integrated Catholic identity helped St. Mary's High School earn a School of Excellence distinction in the Catholic Education Honor Roll (courtesy photo)
High academics paired with an integrated Catholic identity helped St. Mary’s High School earn a School of Excellence distinction in the Catholic Education Honor Roll (courtesy photo)

The biennial Catholic Education Honor Roll is out and St. Mary’s High School is on it.

The Cardinal Newman Society deemed some 70 high schools across 26 states — with the largest number, eight, located in Pennsylvania — as a School of Excellence. That means their Catholic identity is wholly integrated throughout all program areas and their academics are top notch.

“St. Mary’s is very grateful to receive this honor,” Fr. Robert Bolding, president-rector of St. Mary’s Catholic High School said in a statement. “As a Catholic school, it is our sincere hope that our students will, through the intellectual and moral formation they receive, come to an encounter with Jesus Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Since the end of all human knowing is to know and love God, faith and reason must work together in the pursuit of truth.”

Phoenix’s first Catholic high school has been forming young men and women in their Catholic faith for nearly a century. A relatively new program, dubbed Seat of Wisdom Integrated Studies, combines the study of two or more subjects — such as history and literature/composition — into one class and studies them explicitly through the lens of the Catholic faith.

St. Mary's High School students have regular faith formation opportunities through academics, Mass and other prayer times including an annual eucharistic procession and adoration. (courtesy photo)
St. Mary’s High School students have regular faith formation opportunities through academics, Mass and other prayer times including an annual eucharistic procession and adoration. (courtesy photo)

Every St. Mary’s Knight is held to an equally high standard.

“At St. Mary’s, a person is not only challenged academically, but also spiritually,” Emily Rose McShane, Class of 2014 wrote in the school’s admissions brochure. “At this school, personal development is just as important as anything else.”

The honor roll designation puts St. Mary’s among the less than top five percent of Catholic high schools in the U.S. This year’s honorees are schools of various sizes and new and long-established campuses with vastly different admissions policies and tuition rates.

[quote_box_right]Profile of 2014 Schools of Excellence[/quote_box_right]The Catholic tuition rate for St. Mary’s falls within the majority (41 percent) of this year’s honor roll schools at $8,000-$12,000 per year. St. Mary’s is among 18 percent of honorees founded between 1901-1950 with 39 percent of honor roll schools no more than 25 years old. The majority of honorees (59 percent) are college preparatory campuses with almost as many (58 percent) in suburban areas.

Patrick J. Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, said the competition began in 2004 as a tool for administrators, families and benefactors to recognize the quality of a Catholic high school education. Honor roll schools agree to embrace, support and work toward achieving three “Indicators of a School of Excellence”: institutional commitment, mission-centered individuals and strategy for protecting the mission.

[quote_box_right]About the Catholic Education Honor Roll[/quote_box_right]“The Honor Roll schools are a reminder that Catholic education is getting better every day — not only academically, but in the renewal of Catholic identity — and we are delighted to see the increased level of competition among the schools that participated in the program this year,” Reilly said in a statement.

Although structured differently at the time — schools are no longer ranked or compared to each other — Seton Catholic Preparatory in Chandler was named to the Catholic High School Honor Roll in 2010 and Xavier College Preparatory in 2005.