Santa Catalina School

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Santa Catalina School
Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.jpg
1500 Mark Thomas Drive
Monterey, (Monterey County), California 93940
United States
Coordinates 36°35′33″N 121°52′7″W / 36.59250°N 121.86861°W / 36.59250; -121.86861Coordinates: 36°35′33″N 121°52′7″W / 36.59250°N 121.86861°W / 36.59250; -121.86861
Type Private, day and boarding school
Motto Motto: Veritas (Truth)
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Established 1850 (original school)
Founder Sister Margaret Thompson
Head of school Margaret K. Bradley
Grades PreK-12
Gender Girls (9-12)
Coed (PreK-8)
Enrollment 487[1] (2016)
Campus Suburban
Campus size 36 acres
Color(s) Blue and gold         
Slogan Do well. Do good.
Athletics conference CIF – Central Coast Section
Mascot Cougar
Team name Cougars
Accreditation WASC
California Association of Independent Schools
Publication Mosaic (literary magazine)
Newspaper The Lamplighter
Yearbook Catalinan
Endowment $27 Million[2]
Affiliation Dominican Sisters
Head of Upper School Julie Lenherr Edson ’88
Lower and Middle School Division Head Christy Pollacci

Santa Catalina School is a private school in California founded by Sister Margaret Thompson and the Dominican Order in 1950. Situated on 36-acre hacienda-style campus, the Upper School is an all-girls boarding school which also accepts local students. The Lower School serves both boys and girls (preschool through 8th grade). Students in both the Upper and Lower schools are required to wear uniforms. The school emphasizes building a sense of community that challenges its students mentally and spiritually.[1] Santa Catalina is accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. In addition, the school is associated with the National Association of Independent Schools, the Association of Boarding Schools, National Catholic Educational Association, and the National Coalition of Girls' Schools.


Ranch beginnings and religious background[edit]

The original Santa Catalina Convent was founded by Sister Marie Geomaere, a Dominican sister, in what is now downtown Monterey in 1850, when Monterey was the capital of California.[3] With the help of Rev. Joseph Alemany, O.P., Bishop of Monterey, she created the first Catholic school in California, excluding mission schools. Student were predominantly daughters of local town residents and of nearby Spanish landowners and classes were taught in Castilian Spanish. In 1854 the school was moved to Benicia, the new state capital, where it was renamed St. Catherine's Academy.[4]

In 1950, Sister Margaret Thompson, Mother General of the Dominican Sisters of San Rafael, California, decided to reestablish Santa Catalina in Monterey. After buying the 36-acre campus from a local cattle rancher, Col. Harold Mack, the school opened in the fall of 1950, with Sister Mary Kieran as the first principal.[4] When Sister Kieran died in 1965, Sister Carlotta became principal, a title she held for 35 years. As principal, Sister Carlotta's goal was to "educate the whole child... by guiding young people toward intellectual attainment and social, physical, and spiritual well-being."[4]

Transition to co-education and new leadership[edit]

Boys were allowed to enroll in preschool and kindergarten at the request of Sister Jean, and Sister Carlotta encouraged male students to continue their education at the school through 8th grade.[4]

Sister Claire, after serving as Head of Upper School since 1982, became Head of School in 2002.[5] Sister Claire, Sister Christine and Sister Jean are the only Dominican nuns who still reside on campus. Sister Claire and Sister Christine both hold administrative positions but no longer teach.

Current statistics[edit]

Lower and Middle Schools[edit]


There are 257 students in the Lower and Middle Schools; 61 percent are girls and 39 percent are boys.[1]

Class size and student-teacher ratio[edit]

Class sizes are generally small, but vary by grade level as follows:[1]

Basic class information
Grade level Students Teachers Student-teacher ratio
Pre-K 20 3 8:1
Kindergarten 24 2 12:1
Grades 1 & 2 24 2 12:1
Grades 3-5 24 1 teacher and 1 assistant 12:1
Grades 6 - 8 18 per section, 2 sections per grade 1 teacher per subject 5:1


Tuition varies by grade level, and the school offers need-based financial aid. Below is tuition and financial aid information for the 2010-2011 school year.[6]

  • Pre-K: $14,000
  • Kindergarten: $22,000
  • Grades 1-8: $24,000
  • 42 percent of students receive financial aid.

Upper School[edit]

Enrollment, class size, and student-teacher ratio[edit]

As of August 2016, there were 233 girls enrolled at Santa Catalina: 116 were boarding students and 117 were day students.[1] International students made up 16% of the student body. The average class size was 12 students, and the student-teacher ratio was 8:1.


Upper School tuition varies between resident and day students, and both need and merit-based financial aid are offered.

  • Boarding: $57,800 for the 2018-19 school year
  • Day: $37,700 for the 2018-19 school year
  • 40% of students received financial aid for the 2018-19 school year.


Education and academics[edit]


Santa Catalina Lower and Middle School "encourage[s] each boy and girl to work effectively, to communicate articulately, [and] to approach life with a sense of purpose and competence" and prepares students for secondary schooling.[8]

Santa Catalina School aims to "combine a rigorous liberal arts curriculum, modern educational technology, and solid Christian principles" to prepare its students for college and beyond.[3] The single-sex environment, Catholic background, and college preparatory courses are emphasized to "teach the importance of becoming leaders in our communities by serving others."[9] The school attempts to develop each girl's abilities and emphasizes balancing intellectual growth with spiritual awareness.[2] Santa Catalina also seeks diversity in order to enhance a student's sense of responsibility to her community and herself.[5]


  • 4 years of English, religious studies, and the arts[10]
  • 3 years of math, foreign language, and lab sciences[10]
  • Extracurricular activities are required for each of the three athletic seasons. Students have a choice each season between sports, performing arts (theater, dance, and music), and physical education. Juniors and seniors are not required to take part in extracurricular activities during the winter season.


Santa Catalina accepts students on the basis of academic achievement and personal qualification "without regard to race, creed, color, or national and ethnic origins."[5] The admissions office requires a questionnaire and writing sample, school transcript, teacher recommendations, parent statements, SSAT scores, an interview, and an optional personal recommendation. Non-native English speakers are required to take the TOEFL.[11]


Academics are divided among the following departments: Art, Drama, English, Foreign Language (including French, Spanish, Latin, and Mandarin Chinese), History, Math, Music, Religion, and Science.[10]

Honors and AP opportunities[edit]

Santa Catalina School offers 18 AP (Advanced Placement) and 13 Honors courses.

College counseling and acceptance[edit]

The school has a college counselor on campus who works closely with seniors and assists with students' college applications and SAT and ACT registration. In addition, the school has an online resource for students called Family Connection,[12] which provides further college counseling. In addition, approximately 65 colleges and universities from within the United States and abroad send representatives to Catalina to discuss their schools with students throughout the academic year.[13] The average SAT score of students is 1732.[2] 100% of graduates attend college and within the past five years the most-attended colleges were UC Davis (20 students), UCLA (11 students), Boston University (11 students), New York University (9 students), and Loyola Marymount University (9 students).[14] Out of the 2010 graduating class, 6 students attended UCLA, 4 students attended University of California, Berkeley, and 3 students went to UC Santa Barbara and University of the Redlands.[2]

Lower and Middle School academics[edit]

From kindergarten to fifth grade, students take courses in art, computer studies, language arts, math, music, physical education, religion, science, and social science. Spanish classes are introduced in the 4th grade. In grades 6 – 8, students take classes in art, computer science, English, foreign language (Latin or Spanish), history, math, music, physical education, religion, and science.[15]

Faculty and administrators[edit]

Despite the school's religious background, the current administrators are laypeople and not affiliated with a religious order.[16]

  • Head of School - Margaret K. "Meg" Bradley
  • Assistant Head of School - John Aime
  • Assistant Head of School for Mission and Identity - John Murphy, Ph.D.
  • Head of Upper School - Julie Lenherr Edson ’88
  • Head of Lower and Middle School, PreK–Grade 8 - Christy Pollacci

The Upper School is ranked among the top 20 boarding schools for faculty education because a high percentage of the faculty has advanced degrees.[2]


  • Aquatic center

In 2003 a new outdoor aquatic center was completed, featuring a 25 yard by 30 meter pool that is connected to the gym's locker rooms.[17][18] This 10 lane pool is used for physical education classes and the Upper School's swimming and diving and water polo teams.[19]

  • Bedford Family Gymnasium Complex

Located next to the pool, the gym houses basketball and volleyball courts, bleachers, and dressing room facilities. PE classes and Upper and Lower School basketball and volleyball teams use the facility. The gym overlooks the pool and a regulation size softball and soccer field, which is encircled by an all-weather track. In addition, the gym is adjacent to 6 regulation size tennis courts, including one lighted court with stadium seating.[19]

  • Dormitories

Resident students live in one of three dorms in either a single or double room, with faculty members living on each floor. Each room has a bed, desk, drawers, and lockable closet and there are common bathrooms for each floor.[3][19] The dorms also come equipped with wireless internet, laundry facilities, and vending machines.[14]

Thompson Dormitory — This dorm is used primarily for freshman and some sophomores, and also has faculty housing.[19]

Hills Hall — For juniors, seniors, and faculty.[19]

Greer Family Dormitory — This is the newest dorm and houses sophomores, juniors, and faculty.[19]

  • The Hacienda

Originally the Upper School classroom building, this 70-year-old building now houses the Upper School Admissions Office, Business Office, and Development Office.[2][19]

  • Mary L Johnson Music Center

This building houses a 150-seat recital hall, a dance studio, and music studios for private lessons. The building is primarily used for student music lessons and recitals.[2][19]

  • Rosary Chapel

The chapel is located in the center of campus and was built in 1954 as a donation from by Mrs. Marcia Ferrell Hart. San Francisco architect Germano Milono was commissioned to design the building. One of the most notable features is the chapel's stained glass windows.[20] Today the chapel is used for daily morning prayer offered for students and faculty, weekly masses for resident students, on campus faculty, and the public, as well as special events.[21]

  • Santo Domingo Hall

This building includes the student health center and the dining hall.[19] The school uses Bon Appétit food services, who were the winners of the National Resource Defense Council's 2009 Growing Green Award for their commitment to sustainable food. Their menus often feature locally grown foods and leftovers are composted.[22]

  • Sister Mary Kieran Memorial Library

Finished in 1967, the library holds about 34,000 volumes, 40 in-house periodicals, 500 media items, online databases, and 30 computers for students and teachers. It is used by both Upper and Lower Schools.[3][23]

  • Sister Carlotta Performing Arts Center

The Performing Arts Center is a 500-seat, state of the art theater that is used for Lower School Spring and Christmas concerts, various recitals, and three Upper School performances every academic year.[19]

  • Study Hall

Upper School assembly is conducted every morning in this building. Desks are provided for every student and are arranged by class. There are also a limited number of lockers available for student use.[19]

Student life[edit]


Lower School[edit]

Competitive sports are offered, but not required, for students in grades 6 - 8. Teams compete by grade level with other public and private schools in the area.[24]

Seasonal athletic teams[24]
Fall Winter Spring
Volleyball Basketball Tennis
Soccer Flag football Golf
Track and field

Upper School[edit]

Students can choose to participate in one sport per season. Teams compete in the Mission Trail Athletics League (MTAL) and the CIF / Central Coast Section (CCS). The volleyball, basketball, tennis, soccer, water polo, lacrosse, field hockey, and softball teams compete at both the varsity and junior varsity levels.[25]

Seasonal athletic teams[14]
Fall Winter Spring Year round
Volleyball Basketball Swimming and diving Equestrian
Tennis Soccer Track and field
Water polo Lacrosse
Field hockey Softball
Cross country

Performing arts[edit]

Students may also participate in theatre or dance, rather than athletic teams, after school.

  • Theatre: In addition to offering drama classes, the school presents two musicals and one drama each year, which students can choose to participate in.[26]
  • Dance: Dance classes are offered in ballet technique, jazz, contemporary, and musical-theater tap.[26]
  • Music: In addition to the required extracurricular athletics or performing arts, private musical and vocal lessons are available to students. There are also school-wide recitals and a school choir.[26]

Community service[edit]

  • Upper School - Each class has a day designated for mandatory community service. Students choose between the following sites: Dorothy's Place, St. Vincent de Paul Thrift Store, Salvation Army Youth Center, Ave Maria Convalescent Center, Ag Against Hunger, Gateway Center, Harbor Project, STAR Riders, and Food Bank of Monterey County. Certain sites are also offered for students two afternoons each week.[27]
  • Lower School - The entire Lower School is involved in one community service project each month.[28]

Student clubs[edit]

Student clubs[2][14][29]
Academic / school support Activism Entertainment Sports / outdoors Social Student government (all students are elected to these positions)
El Club de Espanol (Spanish Club) Amnesty International Accents (advanced dance club) Fencing Club Back to Basics (cooking and sewing club) Student / Faculty Senate
French Club Community Service Club ecco! (A Capella Group) Fit Club Dumbledore's Army (Harry Potter enthusiasts) Resident Council
PEMDAS (Math Club and Peer Tutoring) Operation Smile Lamplighter (student newspaper issued 7 times a year) Journey: Jump Outside Until Real Nature Experiences You (outdoor club) Fashion Club Day Student Council
Admission Tour Guides and Class Guides Pax Christi MOSAIC (literary magazine) Scuba Club Great Indulgences (art, literature, and film club) Prefects
Big / Little Sisters (seniors who help freshman ease into their first year) R4: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Restore (environmental club) Reverb (singing and songwriting club) Geocachers Knit Wits (knitting club)
Catalinan (Yearbook) Model UN / UN Student Alliance Tokyo Drift (Japanese club)
STAR (Student - alumni organization) Animal Welfare

Notable alumnae[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Santa Catalina School, "About Santa Catalina School", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-16. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", October 15, 2010
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Boarding School Review, "Santa Catalina", "", October 15, 2010
  3. ^ a b c d Owens, Tom and Melanie Bellon Chatfield, (June 1st, 2004). "Insider's Guide to Monterey Peninsula", Insider's Guide Publications
  4. ^ a b c d "School History". Santa Catalina School. Archived from the original on October 31, 2010. Retrieved December 9, 2010.
  5. ^ a b c Fern, Oram, et al (2007). "Peterson's Private Secondary Schools", Lawrenceville, NJ: Peterson's
  6. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Tuition and Affordability", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-25. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", September 7, 2012
  7. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Tuition and Affordability", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-09-27. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", October 15, 2010
  8. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Lower School Our Mission", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-07. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", October 15, 2010
  9. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Upper School", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-24. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", October 15, 2010
  10. ^ a b c Santa Catalina School, "Academics", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", October 15, 2010
  11. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Applying to SCS", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-14. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", October 15, 2010
  12. ^ Family Connection
  13. ^ Santa Catalina School, "College Counseling", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-27. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", November 1, 2010
  14. ^ a b c d The Association of Boarding Schools, "Santa Catalina School", "", October 15, 2010
  15. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Administrator", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-11-17. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", November 1, 2010
  16. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Lower School", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", September 7, 2012
  17. ^ Parsons, Larry, "Tomato king Scott Salyer a man of his past", "", December 9, 2010
  18. ^ Isport Swimming, "Salyer Aquatic Center at Santa Catalina School", "", December 9, 2010
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Santa Catalina School, "Our Campus", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2010-12-11.", December 9, 2010
  20. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Rosary Chapel History", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2010-12-11.", December 10, 2010
  21. ^ Santa Catalina School, "About Rosary Chapel", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2010-12-11.", December 10, 2010
  22. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Sustainability", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2010-12-11.", December 10, 2010
  23. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Library", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-31. Retrieved 2010-12-11.", December 10, 2010
  24. ^ a b Santa Catalina School, "Grade 6 - Grade 8 Sports", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-07. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", November 1, 2010
  25. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Upper School Athletics", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-12. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", November 1, 2010
  26. ^ a b c Santa Catalina School, "Performing Arts", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-10-13. Retrieved 2010-11-05.", November 1, 2010
  27. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Community Service", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-01-16. Retrieved 2010-12-12.", December 10, 2010
  28. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Community Service", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-08-09. Retrieved 2010-12-12.", December 10, 2010
  29. ^ Santa Catalina School, "Clubs and Organizations", ""Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-01-16. Retrieved 2010-12-11.", December 10, 2010

External links[edit]