St. Mary Catholic Central High School

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St. Mary Catholic Central
High School
SMCC Monroe MI.jpg
108 West Elm Avenue
Monroe, Michigan, Monroe County, 48162
United States
Type Private
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Patron saint(s) St. Mary
Established 1846
Founded 1986 (merger)
Founder Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary
Brothers of Holy Cross
President Sean D. Jorgensen '91
Principal Jenny M. Biler
Staff 20
Faculty 28
Grades 912
Gender Coeducational
Enrollment 450 (2012)
Average class size 22
Student to teacher ratio 16:1
Color(s) Green and Gold         
Slogan Living Faith, Gaining Knowledge, Serving Others
Athletics conference Huron League
Team name Falcons (boys)
Kestrels (girls)
Accreditation North Central Association of Colleges and Schools[1]
Average ACT scores 23.3 Avg Composite, Class of 2012
School fees $550
Tuition $7590
Alumni 12,000+
Campus Minister Timothy Maag
Chief Operating Officer Jack Giarmo '81
Dean of Students Chad Myers '02
Athletic Director Diane Tuller
Admissions Director Jason Linster
St. Mary Catholic Central
Location within the state of Michigan
Location within the state of Michigan
Location within the state of Michigan
Location 108 West Elm Avenue
Monroe, Michigan
Coordinates 41°55′10″N 83°23′50″W / 41.91944°N 83.39722°W / 41.91944; -83.39722Coordinates: 41°55′10″N 83°23′50″W / 41.91944°N 83.39722°W / 41.91944; -83.39722
Built 1846
Part of St. Mary's Church Complex Historic District (#82002855)

St. Mary Catholic Central High School, known colloquially as SMCC, is a Catholic, co-educational, parochial, secondary school located at 108 West Elm Avenue in Monroe, Michigan. SMCC is sponsored by the Catholic parishes of the Vicariate of Monroe under the auspices of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit. The school itself is listed as a contributing property within the St. Mary's Church Complex Historic District, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on May 6, 1982.[2] It is co-sponsored by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary and the Brothers of Holy Cross and is located within the Archdiocese of Detroit.

Mission Statement

The school's mission statement is; "Building on the charisms of our founders, St. Mary Catholic Central High School is a Christ-centered learning community forming lives in a tradition of faithfulness to the Gospel, educational excellence, and service to others."

About SMCC

St. Mary Catholic Central High School is a heritage school formed from the 1986 merger of St. Mary Academy and Monroe Catholic Central. SMCC continues the church’s educational tradition in Monroe that began when the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary founded St. Mary Academy in 1846. The Brothers of Holy Cross came to Monroe in 1944 to staff Monroe Catholic Central, a new all boys Catholic secondary school established by the Archdiocese and several local parishes.

SMCC exists as one of 1,200 Catholic high schools in the United States and one of 24 Catholic secondary schools in the Archdiocese of Detroit. Its 450 students are part of the nearly 600,000 students educated in Catholic secondary schools and part of the over 2.3 million students educated in all Catholic sponsored elementary and secondary institutions nationally. The National Catholic Education Association estimates that, annually, Catholic schools provide the country with a $23 billion savings in educational expenditures.

Today, SMCC is considered a Vicariate-sponsored high school. The Vicariate of Monroe, which is contiguous with Monroe County borders, has fourteen parishes and five Catholic elementary schools. SMCC has students representing all fourteen parishes. The school is the only Catholic secondary institution in the Vicariate. Further, it is one of only three non-public high schools in Monroe County. Among the current student body, 68% come from a Catholic elementary schools in the Monroe Vicariate or from surrounding Catholic parishes in Huron Township, Downriver Detroit, or Toledo. The remaining 32% comes from local public middle schools, one of three area local Lutheran elementary schools, a public charter school, the local Montessori school or home-schooled settings.


St. Mary Academy - SMA was established when Reverend Louis Florent Gillet and Sister Theresa Maxis Duchemin and two other young religious women arrived in Monroe, Michigan in 1845 to form a new religious congregation - the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On January 15, 1846 - just two months after the IHM arrived and before a church or a residence had even been constructed - St. Mary Academy was founded, beginning what is now the 165 year history of Catholic education in Monroe County. The courage, vision, and perseverance of Fr. Gillet, Mother Theresa Maxis and countless IHMs that followed created one of the best educational institution for young women in the United States.

St. Mary Academy was originally built at what is now the southwest corner of the intersection of Monroe Street and Elm Avenue. With growing enrollment in the 1870s and boarding students from as far away as New York, Nevada, and Montana, the need for a new building prompted the construction of St. Mary Academy I on the banks of the Raisin River in 1881.

Word of the school's success and the great westward migration that was occurring in the United States drove enrollment even higher in succeeding years and the Academy quickly outgrew SMA I. In 1904, the groundbreaking for St. Mary Academy II was held on the site of the present day St. Mary Catholic Central High School campus. The construction was to not only include space for the all girls K-12 school, but also the new St. Mary's College. Shortly after its completion, the Bishop of Detroit asked the Order to move its collegiate program to the city of Detroit. The Sisters obliged and relocated St. Mary's College to Detroit where it continues today as Marygrove College.

In 1929, a terrible fire broke out in the women's dormitory and destroyed much of the SMA II structure. Undeterred by the tragedy, the Sisters set out to reconstruct the school. Using property they owned just two blocks from the original site they constructed St. Mary Academy III and established a new, larger Motherhouse to care for the growing order of nuns. Built during the heart of the Great Depression, the construction of the 440,000 square foot Academy and adjoining Motherhouse represented one of the largest private construction projects during the time. In the fall of 1932, 340 young ladies in grades 1 through 12 began their studies in their new facility St. Mary Academy grew and flourished from the 1940s through the 1960s.

Enrollment at the Academy peeked in the late 1960s when over 800 young women were enrolled in the high school. In the 40 years since the Great Fire, the IHM had created one of the country's most outstanding educational institutions for women. The Academy combined boarders and day school students in a collegiate atmosphere of teaching and learning. The IHM staffed the school with some of the most educated and well-trained women in the country. The student body exuded camaraderie and spirit. Everyone knew who the "Academy girls" were. Generations of intelligent, empowered women, trained in the social graces of the time, would graduate and enter the world prepared to make their mark.

By the early 1970s, hundreds of new Catholic high schools had opened across the country and most local parishes had added grade schools in response to the demands of educating the generation that would be known as the "Baby Boomers." While the quality of the education at SMA persisted, the demand for the boarding school programs and the Academy grade school began to diminish.

Discussions of creating a co-educational institution with Monroe Catholic Central first surfaced in 1971. Although enrollments at both SMA and MCC sharply declined and costs rose at a significant rate, the strong commitment to the continuation of Catholic secondary institution survived. The dedication by the Sisters and the Monroe Catholic Central Board finally led to merging St. Mary Academy and Monroe Catholic Central to form St. Mary Catholic Central High School in 1986.

Monroe Catholic Central - In 1941, the pastors of Monroe parishes, St. John, St. Joseph, St. Mary, and St. Michael parishes, along with the pastors of St. Joseph in Erie and St. Patrick in Carleton, responded to their parishioners requests and worked together to establish an all-boys Catholic high school in Monroe. Cardinal Mooney, the Archbishop of Detroit, granted permission for the school to be founded provided a religious order could be found to operate the school.

School organizers contacted Fr. Thomas Steiner, CSC, the Provincial of the Congregation of Holy Cross in South Bend, Indiana and a native of Monroe. Fr. Steiner happily agreed to send members of the Congregation's order of Brothers to staff the school. Three members of the Brothers of Holy Cross arrived in 1944 and comprised the entire staff of the original school: Br. Christian Stinnett, Br. Remigius Bullinger, and Br. Gerontius McCarthy. The brothers lived next door to the school on the second floor of what was then the Maurice Funeral Home.

The Diocese purchased six acres located at 108 West Elm Avenue from the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The site was the home of the second St. Mary Academy building, tragically destroyed by fire in 1929. After renovating what remained of the old SMA II structure into a gymnasium and classroom space, Monroe Catholic Central opened on September 18, 1944 with an enrollment of 56 freshmen.

As enrollment increased, additional Brothers of Holy Cross were hired and created a foundation of educational excellence for young men. By September 1950, an addition was completed including a single floor addition with classrooms, science labs, office space, and a new heating plant. The new building was ready for 236 young men. In 1953, work was completed on a second floor, kitchen, cafeteria, and library. As many as 30 Brothers staffed the school at one point. In 1969, enrollment had increased to its peak of 530 students. This growth necessitated several building campaigns: one in 1965 with a two-story, 12 classroom addition; the second in the summer of 1968 with construction of a new gymnasium and locker rooms.

In less than 30 years, the Brothers of Holy Cross created a school with an extraordinary reputation as a disciplined and challenging environment, as well as, a school with a rich tradition of academic and athletic achievement. This reputation was grounded in the legendary faculty who walked its halls. Names like Gerontius, Davenport, Castignola, Smith, Alessandro, Rottenbutcher, Dalton, Lauwers, and Sandersen bring back vivid memories of these larger-than-life figures for MCC alums.

By 1978, the first lay principal was named and at the same time, discussion had begun across the Vicariate exploring the future of Catholic secondary education in Monroe without religious available to staff the schools. The Monroe Catholic Central Board and the Sisters determined the need to share resources, and ultimately moved to create a co-institution between Monroe Catholic Central and St. Mary Academy in 1986.

SMCC - Cultural, social, and demographic changes brought on during the 1960s within the Catholic Church and the United States began to have an effect on the Catholic education system. Enrollments in Catholic schools began to decline as couples had fewer children and urban sprawl across the country reduced former immigrant population centers. In addition, there was a significant decline in the numbers of professed religious who served as the staff in Catholic schools. Lay educators were quickly becoming the majority. Beyond the cultural impact, the cost of employing lay educators substantially increased the tuition at private educational institutions as the Brothers and Sisters had taken little to no pay for their work. With the cost of living increasing and more primary bread-winners staffing schools, the money required to operate a private and parochial schools quickly increased.

Despite these challenges, the IHM Sisters, the Brothers of Holy Cross, and the School Boards of St. Mary Academy and Monroe Catholic Central were determined in their desire to ensure Catholic secondary education in Monroe County. In the spring of 1978, the two schools agreed to establish a co-institution by sharing classes and resources. In June 1985, Sr. Joyce Durosko, IHM was hired as the Chief Executive Officer by the schools to implement a complete integration plan. Cardinal Edmund Szoka ratified the final merger and the by-laws were drafted by a joint board in 1986. The school was named St. Mary Catholic Central High School, now commonly referred to as SMCC.

In 2011, the SMCC community celebrated the 165th anniversary of the founding of St. Mary Academy and the 25th anniversary of the merger of SMA and MCC. In the quarter century since its implementation, the merger had accomplished its primary goal, namely to ensure that a Catholic secondary education continue to remain available to the people of Monroe County and surrounding communities. SMCC exists as a strong, vibrant, and vital part of the Catholic Church in southeast Michigan.

Using funds derived from the Soaring on the Wings of Tradition campaign, SMCC recently renovated its Science labs and main student concourse, added Founders' Hall (which includes the Brothers of Holy Cross conference room and the IHM Activities Center complete with a full service kitchen, and a new Music and Drama Center), created a new Media and Technology Center, and constructed the Chapel of the Infant Jesus of Prague. Enrollment at the school has increased over 10% since 2008 despite the economic recession and significant loss of population in the state of Michigan.

Faith and Spiritual Formation

SMCC serves the educational needs of young men and women of diverse religious, ethnic, and economic backgrounds. The school is an extension of the educational ministry of the Roman Catholic Church which continues the teaching mission of Jesus. Approximately 80% of SMCC students identify themselves as Roman Catholic. The remaining twenty percent of the population is Lutheran, Methodist, Baptist, Non-denominational Christian, Greek Orthodox, or Hindu.

SMCC teaches Roman Catholic theology in accordance with the precepts of the Catholic Church, utilizing the theology curriculum for secondary schools that was approved by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2011. It seeks to enable all of its students to understand more clearly and apply the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Church. SMCC promotes an understanding of Gospel values and their application to everyday life, realizing one's relationship to an ever changing global society. SMCC believes in the importance of being a vital and concerned member of the community through prayer, discipline, and responsiveness to the needs of the local community.

A student's faith and spiritual formation is further developed through the school's efforts in the area of prayer, retreats, and service.

SMCC students pray together twice each school day, first during homeroom with intentions, a Scripture passage and a Saint of the Day reading and again through a silent and reflective prayer at the beginning of the class period of the day. In addition, many teachers begin each of their classes with their own brief centering prayer. The Practicing Spirituality class conducts frequent morning prayer services focused around topics pertinent to the life of a young adult of faith in our increasingly secular culture. In 2010, the school was blessed to have Archbishop Allen Vigneron on hand to dedicate the beautiful Chapel of the Infant Jesus of Prague. This sacred space serves as the heart of the school's campus. Theology classes frequently use the space for class lectures and discussions. During the seasons of Advent and Lent, weekly Mass is offered in the Chapel and open to all students, parents and guests. In addition to all of these opportunities to pray as a community the student body and staff gather at least once a month at St. Mary's Parish next door as community to share in an all-school liturgy.

Each year while enrolled at SMCC, students are required to attend a day or overnight retreat. These sacred times of prayer and reflection assist students in reflecting on; 1) what it means to live in a Christian community, 2) God's gift of human sexuality and our proper response to this gift, 3) the need to ask for and offer forgiveness and healing in our relationships with others, and 4) the call as young adults to make faith a central part of one's life as they transition into full adulthood.

SMCC students contribute tens of thousands of hours of community service through our Christian Service and Campus Ministry programs each year. SMCC seeks to instill service as a "habit of the heart" in its students and staff. Students volunteer at hundreds of school and community events in an attempt to live our the Catholic Church's social teachings. Annual mission trips to Appalachia and Guatemala complement the faith development found in daily prayer, Theology classes, and liturgical services and offer students an extended and intense experience of living a "Me Third" attitude in service to God and others.


SMCC is fully accredited through the AdvancedED - the North Central Association. The school offers students a challenging college preparatory program that develops students spiritually, academically, morally, physically, and socially for a full, loving, Gospel-centered adult life. Three levels of college preparatory curriculum are offered: Honors/AP, College Prep, and Concepts. Honors/AP classes challenge the strongest students with work aimed at preparing them for admittance into highly selective four-year universities. College Prep courses prepare our students academically for a variety of collegiate programs. Concepts classes are taught at a slower pace than most classes offering special assistance in areas of individualized need, yet still prepare graduates to attend college after graduation.

In 2012, after two years of research, a significant investment in its technology infrastructure, and substantial time spent training its teaching staff, SMCC began transforming its teaching and learning environment through the incorporation of Apple’s iPad technology. Each student carries his or her own personal iPad device. The iPad provides an on-demand internet connection for research, and offer access to Apple’s immense catalog of educational applications. SMCC also became one of the first schools in the nation to fully implement the use of digital textbooks in place of traditional hardcover or softcover texts.

The school has 28 faculty members, five administrators, eight full and part-time student service staff members, and 12 full and part-time support staff. Together, they have a combined 380 years of service to SMCC and over 530 total years of experience in education.

Access and Affordability

One of the school's central philosophies is to make a Catholic secondary education accessible and affordable to all those who seek it. SMCC offered over $1,100,000 in tuition assistance to over 65% of its students for the 2012-13 school year with grants ranging from $500 to 75% of tuition. In addition, SMCC offers renewable academic scholarships of $500 to $2,000 to incoming freshmen who score in the top 10% nationally on the High School Placement Test.

The tradition that SMCC is built on can be witnessed in the unfailing financial support provided by its alumni and friends. Annually, SMCC raises over 30% of its operating budget from non-tuition revenue, nearly double the national average for Catholic secondary schools and a testament to the incredible generosity of the school's supporters.

Traditions and Annual Events

  • The "Rouser"
  • Lunch on the Lawn
  • Alumni Weekend
  • Athletic Hall of Fame
  • Alumni Memorial Mass
  • Aviarium Dignitas Recognition Dinner
  • Christmas Ball
  • SMA Alumnae Day
  • Alumni Senior Breakfast
  • Service trips to Harlan, Kentucky and San Lucas Toliman, Guatemala
  • Bradapalooza Softball Tournament and Run on Faith 5K

Extracurricular Activities

Extracurricular activities include Student Council, Interact, National Honor Society, French and Spanish Honor Societies, Ski Club, Cultural Culinary Club, music, drama, and athletics.


SMCC offers athletic opportunities in 20 sports programs. Male and female athletes compete as members of 35 teams on the varsity, junior varsity, and freshman level. More than 85% of the current student body will earn at least one varsity letter while attending SMCC. SMCC teams are part of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, and the Huron League. Sports which are currently offered for boys include baseball, basketball, golf, soccer, tennis, track, cross country, football, ice hockey, wrestling, and lacrosse. Girls sports include basketball, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, track, cross country, softball, and volleyball. Falcon and Kestrel teams have recently won league, district, or regional championships in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, softball, tennis, track, volleyball, and wrestling.

SMCC has claimed four Class C state championships in Girls Volleyball, winning titles in 2003, 2007, 2010, and 2012, as well as state runner-up performances in 1991 and 2011. The Football program owns a pair of Class B state championships, winning the title in 1991 and 1969 (as Monroe Catholic Central), as well as having four state runner-up performances in 1984, 2005, 2009 and 2010. The Wrestling team won a pair of Class B state championships in 1982 and 1983, and finished as the state runner-up in 1985. The Girls Track and Field squad claimed a state championship in 2003. The Softball program has finished as state runner-up three times, 1989, 1992, and 2007.

SMCC has been home to some legendary coaching figures in MHSAA history including; Jack Castignola (football, basketball, track), Don Lessner (football and baseball), Joe Sandersen (football and wrestling), Paul Osentoski (wrestling and football) and Ray Lauwers (basketball and football.)

Post Secondary Choices

100% of SMCC graduates are accepted into college. They go on to attend such diverse schools as the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Notre Dame, the U.S. Air Force Academy, the Ohio State University, Hillsdale College, Purdue University, Case Western University, University of Detroit Mercy, Loyola University Chicago, Michigan Technological University, Villanova University, St. Mary’s College, Kalamazoo College, Adrian College, Western Michigan University, Gonzaga University, Holy Cross College, University of Kentucky, University of Dayton, Hope College, Ave Maria University, Monroe County Community College, and many others.

The 95 members of Class of 2012 received over $5.8 million in college scholarship offers.


The school has over 12,000 alumni living in all fifty states and numerous other countries representing a diverse range of occupations and employment.

Notable alumni


  1. ^ NCA-CASI. "NCA-Council on Accreditation and School Improvement". Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  2. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2008-04-15. 

External links