At St. Mary’s Academy, we believe part of being a community means that we share and grow together. We come together in respect to learn and understand each other.
The racial diversity at SMA is 29.9%, one of the largest for an independent school in Colorado. Our students come from over 81 different zip codes and bring with them a reflection of diversity in its many forms.
It is part of our school’s mission “to recognize and welcome diversity as a positive force within their future world.” We strive in all we do to show respect, promote justice and act in our faith, as we build a strong community.
In the Lower School, diversity is recognized and appreciated in a number of ways. From the celebration of religious holidays to the discussion of various cultures, diversity is respected and shared within the SMA community.
The primary grades hold a China Day in recognition of the Chinese culture and traditions. The kindergartners read Letters from Felix, A Little Rabbit on a World Tour by Annette Langen. They come to understand different cultures from the travels of Felix as they send him on various journeys to relatives around the world.
The upper grades study a variety of cultures as well. The third graders are involved in discussions and understanding of the Native American people as they study the colonial west. Grades four and five spend time studying the culture of South America in their Spanish classes.
The Middle School participates in diversity especially through its recognition of some of the Hispanic holidays. In November, the students celebrate the Day of the Dead, a Hispanic holiday that honors those who have died. Students honor loved ones who have died by decorating altars and talking about the gifts of spirit that they have received. The history of this holiday and its influence in other cultures is explored in Spanish classes.
The students also celebrate the holiday of Posadas, reenacting Joseph and Mary’s search for an inn to stay at while in Bethlehem. After traveling around the school singing the traditional song in Spanish, Joseph and Mary are able to find an inn and the students gather in the Commons to celebrate with tamales and hot chocolate.
Finally, a Mexican Folklore dance group meets and learns dance from the many regions of Mexico. Dancers wear traditional costumes and each dance tells a story about the region. The dance troupe shares their dances in performances at the High School’s annual Diversity Day and in the Middle School.
The High School is involved in many activities that try to bring both understanding and inclusion to the SMA community. One of these activities is the annual Diversity Day where students are both learners and teachers. The day starts with a keynote speaker who discusses diversity and from there the students go to break out sessions that further enhance their understanding of the many forms of diversity. At lunchtime, the students bring food from their ethnic heritage and participate in a fashion show reflecting their diversity. The day ends in a panel discussion of diversity issues.
Each month students lead roundtable discussions on various current topics of interest that reflect an issue around diversity. Both students and teachers are involved.
A group of tenth graders each year attend the People of Color Conference (POCC) that offers them opportunities to understand diversity as well as ways to help others in their school have more understanding and empowerment about how to deal with the concerns of prejudice.
The Diversity Club, which is called the Common Ground Club, takes on various projects to bring awareness to the SMA community. This includes announcements of various holidays and sponsoring and organizing Diversity Day. A subset of this club is the Latina Club in which Latina students are involved in activities that celebrate their heritage.
This is a community where everyone is welcoming.