School House in 1931
INTRODUCTIONLower Saint Mary's county is a beautiful part of Maryland where the idyllic waterways of the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River frame the Saint Michael's School (SMS) complex. It is nestled by the side of Three Notch Road, with aging oaks standing guard over an addition that enhances the appearance of the original structure. We have a dynamic community located south of the Technology Corridor and Historic Preservation District. Celebrating the combination of old and new, we at Saint Michael's have the traditional values and mores long held in our Catholic faith, interwoven with intellectual enlightenment throughout our daily instruction. St. Michael's is located fourteen miles south of Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD) Patuxent River, and five miles south from NAWCAD St. Inigoes. Eight miles north of the school is Historic St. Mary's City, the birthplace of religious tolerance and site of the first Catholic chapel in the United States, fully reconstructed. We are surrounded by fields of farm land, and families who have resided here for generations. The school is near the rescue squad, fire department, Knights of Columbus Hall, seafood distributor and a local grocer. Adjacent to the school, sitting on the top of "the ridge" is Saint Michael's Church with its stunning arched ceiling. The church exudes a sense of stability, conservatism, staunch Catholic values of abiding faith, pride and support.
Visitors are enveloped by the energy and spirit of the school. We pride ourselves in collaborations across the generations through joint endeavors that change lives. We have a dedicated faculty and a lively student body creating a welcoming place for all. SMS is committed to the value of diversity in all its forms as part of the celebration of human life and as a fundamental foundation for effective teaching, learning, inquiry, and collaboration. This commitment is never perfectly realized; and requires constant nurturing for the transmission of values and experiences through participation in an intergenerational community which participates in our learning experience and challenges us to excel.
Our special community is filled with civic minded individuals who are passionate about St. Mary's County and our school. As we apply knowledge in the service of society with an "open door" policy, we encourage participation, align resources and engage our local organizations.
HISTORY OF THE SCHOOL AND ITS TRADITIONSThe original St. Michael's School (SMS) building was constructed in 1911 under the direction of Father Abraham J. Emerick, S.J. The two-story wooden building was to serve St. Michael's Parish as a combination social hall and eventually as an elementary school. In 1950, under the direction of Rev. Merle V. Baldwin S.J. the old wooden building was replaced by a modern cinder block and brick school. This structure was expanded in 1960 by the addition of two large classrooms and a spacious library. In 1999, a new wing was added to St. Michael's, providing enlarged classrooms for seventh and eighth graders, as well as a conference room, that now serves as an advanced math classroom. A girls' and boys' bathroom was also included in this wing as well as two storage areas. This, in turn, allowed restructuring another area to create a computer lab housing 25 computers, printers, scanner, an LCD projector, and the SmartBoard located in instructional areas.
There have been several changes in the interior of the school building since 1950. Classrooms have been reassigned and updated. The desks from the 50's have been replaced with modern designed ones and chalkboards are being replaced with white boards. Each classroom is now air conditioned. Additionally, the two bathrooms in the primary wing of the school were renovated to provide for more stalls, and handicap assessable. The kitchen was upgraded and provides a clean and modern area to prepare hot lunches, parish and school family breakfasts and dinners. In 2006 the principal's and secretary's offices were remodeled and a newer workroom configured. That same year the faculty room was redesigned to provide a sink, refrigerator, and working counter space.
The present St. Michael's Elementary School was not founded until 1918 by the renowned Jesuit, Father John LaFarge. Classes during the first year were conducted by four women, members of a group called the Missionary Servants of the Blessed Trinity. The main thrust of this group was social work, and since teaching was not a priority for them, they staffed the school for only the one year. After Father LaFarge built the Convent, then known as the "Brent House" another group of women called the Tertiary Carmelites agreed to staff SMS; but again, they too, lasted less than a year. From September 1920 to 1922 the Brent House was occupied by five local lay women, three of whom taught at St. Michael's. Dr. Caroline Martin filled the office of directress. Father LaFarge continued his search for nuns, applying to sixteen religious teaching communities before he achieved his goal. Finally on August 31, 1922, five Sisters of St. Joseph from Hartford, Connecticut arrived and assumed the teaching responsibilities in SMS. A least one sister from this community continued to guide the faculty until 1999. Since that time lay teachers have taken on the responsibility of teaching, with St. Michael's now boasting 10 full time and 7 part time teachers, and two paraprofessionals. Our current principal is a graduate from St. Michael's school. Her parents graduated from here as have four of her five children. The enrollment has increased over the past ten years to reaching near maximum with two hundred students attending the school. Although, there have been fiscal challenges the call for assistance has been answered by our dedicated community. We celebrate 100 years providing a catholic education in September, 2018.