Although St. Mary’s is a school, to me it is much more – it is a Family-Focused faith community for the students. With our Catholic beliefs as the community’s foundation, St. Mary’s is truly Christ-Centered because I was able to go to school every day knowing that I was surrounded by people who shared my focus on the teachings of Jesus and the gospels. Being surrounded by peers who, like me, were living their faith every day allowed me to deepen my understanding of what it means to be Christian. Being in this environment during my formative years, helped to shape me into the caring person that I am today. In addition, our dedicated teachers worked tirelessly to help each one of us see our full potential.

Through their commitment to the core value of Knowledge Shared, they supported us in using our God-given talents to excel in the classroom as well as lend encouragement as we participated in the school’s many extra-curricular activities. For example, teachers and staff were always there to show their support outside of the classroom whether we were running in a track meet or competing in the Regional Future City Competition. My time at St. Mary’s also instilled in me the importance of Traditions, which we as a school community cherished. Our weekly masses, Catholic Schools Week, and even Thanksgiving lunch are experiences that I will always remember fondly. In addition to the school traditions, I also cherish my memories of my schoolmates, many of whom I am friends with to this day.

What I value most about my education at St. Mary’s is that it inspired me to choose a Catholic high school and prepared me academically, morally, and spiritually for my high school experience. Spiritually, St. Mary’s inspired me to join another faith-based learning community where I could expand on the core values from my St. Mary’s education. St. Mary’s also prepared me to make good decisions, whether it was my choice of friends, activities, or classes.

As a St. Mary’s student, I participated in annual T-Shirt drives for Nicaragua and attended weekly school masses. Today I am continuing to be Service Called and Christ-Centered through my community service which began in kindergarten and participation in school liturgies, an opportunity first presented to me as young as grade three. I have also become a lector because I always enjoyed reading at St. Mary’s School masses and St. Mary’s taught me to share my talents with others. St. Mary’s allowed me to have a deeper understanding of my faith, which I am continuing to develop in high school. Academically, I was prepared to challenge myself with Advanced Placement and college courses in high school and I am proud to say that I have challenged myself further by applying to some of the nation’s most competitive universities, including Harvard and Princeton. I attribute my academic success to the foundation that St. Mary’s gave me. In addition to my academic foundation, St. Mary’s gave me a moral and spiritual foundation and many friendships and memories that I believe will last a lifetime.

-Caitlyn Leong

St. Mary’s Class of 2011