Belles Blog

a blog about St. Mary's Academy

Thank You for Your Kind Donations, Love & Support

November is a time where our school receives support from many alumnae and friends who are committed to giving each SMA student access to quality education. Our SMA community – administration, faculty, staff, parents and students – are truly blessed and grateful for the ongoing support to preserving the legacy of our extraordinary school.

While reflecting on their experiences at St. Mary’s Academy, our Belles recognized the many gifts they have received and we wanted to share with you some of their thoughts:

“I am grateful for SMA faculty and staff for their support as we apply for college.”

 – Gold Tie, Class of 2018

“I am grateful for the Career Path Programs so I can explore different careers.”

– Red Tie, Class of 2019

“I am grateful for my Mom who found SMA and made my education possible for me.”

 – Blue Tie, Class of 2020

“I am grateful for caring teachers and guidance to live, love, learn and serve.”

 – Green Tie, Class of 2021

Today, you can give the gift of education by making a donation to our #GivingTuesday campaign. Help us reach our goal of $50,000 in student scholarships by November 28th! Your donation will be matched by a generous donor.

Show your B-E-L-L-E-S Pride by giving back today for our Belles to continue receiving a quality education rooted in spirituality, sisterhood and service!

Your support on #GivingTuesday – and every day – allows us to fulfill our mission.


How to Navigate the SMA Admissions Process

Let the countdown to the holiday season begin! The holiday season brings family and friends together, joy, and overall a happy spirit that is contagious to even the grumpiest Scrooge. For an 8th Grade student, what is also important during this time is Admissions Season, which like the Holiday Season, brings families together. During this time, questions arise at the dinner table from both parents and daughters:

What schools are you applying to?

Can we visit this High School?  

What programs do they offer?

When is the deadline for the application?

Families should be asking these and other questions to get a sense of which school is right for the family.

To help you decide if you should be a Gold Tie, class of ’22 at St. Mary’s Academy, here are a few helpful tips to get started:

  • Visit our School – At SMA, we can provide intimate small tours for one person or accommodate a large group of 100 people or more. During a tour day, our Student Ambassadors will show our prospective students around the campus to showcase the Career Path Programs in The Arts, Engineering, and Health Careers fields, observe our teachers engage with students in the classrooms,  learn about students activities, and much more!
  • Attend our Open House – Come out to meet the SMA Family on Saturday, November 4, 2017 from 12pm-3pm! This is your opportunity to meet our students, teachers, staff, and parents.
  • Visit our Website – Learn more about important dates, the online application form, and additional admission process deadlines at the SMA Admissions website link.
  • Stay Connected – SMA has an active social media presence to showcase our school events, student achievements, alumnae accomplishments, and school legacy. Check out our Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Blog and YouTube to learn more about SMA!

Hearing directly from students on their experience does help make the high school application process seem smoother and easier. We asked our current Green Tie freshmen to share their advice about our school’s Admissions process:

“The SMA application process and the 3 recommendation letters were very easy because I completed them all in time and I was confident in my paperwork.  For my interview, I was a little nervous, but it was very fun to talk about my different interests at SMA. I had the most help from Ms. Cotton and other girls at St. Mary’s because they told me how to make my work perfect and presentable.”


“If you are an 8th grader applying to SMA, I greatly encourage you to take a career pathway. SMA is a no joke school but the teachers are caring enough to help you through it. The teachers always say, ”My job is not to make high-school easy it’s to make college easy.” And because of that, I learned to push myself. So please when you apply, have a goal in mind and SMA will help you achieve it.”


“ I 100% encourage girls to apply to SMA because there are a lot of opportunities that can lead you to many doors to your future. SMA will provide you with fun, cherishing memories that you can take wherever you go. Come to St. Mary’s Academy to become a belle, a woman of distinction, is what I would say to an 8th grader.”

If you have any questions regarding our high-school application process or would like to schedule a tour, please don’t hesitate to contact our Admissions Office at 310-674-8470 or! 




Health Careers Path Program Updates

As the month of October is drawing to an end and our Pink Ties will soon be put away until next year, we thought it was the perfect time to give an update on what’s been happening in our Health Careers Path Program.  They’ve been busy to say the least!  We’re very proud of this program because it allows our students to have educational experiences inside and outside of the classroom that relate to the field of health careers.

The 11th grade students in the Health Care Ethics class debated on whether adolescents should make their own medical decisions.  This is a hot topic that our students (being adolescents themselves) had no lack of opinion and were more than passionate to share their views!

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CSJ Oral History Project

St. Mary’s Academy was founded by The Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet in 1889.  Learn more about the history of the Los Angeles Province in these videos produced by Mount St. Mary’s University.




Day of the Girl 2017- Girl Power at SMA

Empowerment of and investment in girls are key in breaking the cycle of discrimination and violence and in promoting and protecting the full and effective enjoyment of their human rights”

-United Nations Resolution 66/170


“In 2011, as the result of youth advocacy around the world, the United Nations declared October 11 as the International Day of the Girl Child. Its mission is “to help galvanize worldwide enthusiasm for goals to better girls’ lives, providing an opportunity for them to show leadership and reach their full potential.” It’s a day when activist groups come together under the same goal to highlight, discuss, and take action to advance rights and opportunities for girls everywhere.

This day is about celebrating girls, and advocating for gender equality. It is about prompting people to think and talk about issues that affect girls and women everywhere. Events around the country will bring people together to both recognize the role of oppression and take a stand against its influence on their own lives and communities. 

October 11 is not just a day; it’s a movement. A worldwide revolution.”

And as an all girls school our BELLES and SMA are part of that revolution….

This year, our yearbook class decided to model the yearbook after a GIRL POWER magazine theme.

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Clubs and Organizations 2017-18

St. Mary’s Academy is proud to offer many options for our students in the form of clubs and organizations.  We recently held a club fair and you can see how excited our students are about these clubs that are almost entirely student driven. Their interests run the gamut and there’s something everyone can join to enrich their experience here at SMA.

NAHS inspires and recognizes those students who have shown outstanding ability in art. Students must have 1 semester of a visual arts class with a grade of B+ or higher as well as a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher to apply.

National Art Honor Society

NAHS inspires and recognizes those students who have shown outstanding ability in art. Students must have one semester of a visual arts class with a grade of B+ or higher as well as a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher to apply.

California Scholarship Federation and National Honor Society

The National Honor Society (NHS) recognizes students who have demonstrated excellence in the areas of scholarship, service, leadership, and character. The organization has been committed to four main goals since its inception: to create enthusiasm for scholarship; to stimulate a desire to render service; to promote leadership; and to develop character in the students of secondary schools. These are the criteria used to select members, which is done by a faculty committee. Members of CSF and NHS at SMA join forces to support an academic culture and to provide academic support to their peers through mentoring and tutoring.

The mission of the California Scholarship Federation (CSF) is to recognize and encourage academic achievement and community service among middle and high school students in California. Members qualify by meeting eligibility requirements based on their grades each semester. Members of CSF and NHS at SMA join forces to support an academic culture and to provide academic support to their peers through mentoring and tutoring.

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Arts Program Updates

National Arts in Education Week was the second week in September so we thought we’d do an update of what’s new this year and in store for our Arts Career Path Program.

Remember that cool Duck Truck dance residency we did last year through a partnership through Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre?  Well it was such a success that we decided to build an after school program with them.  We now offer an after school dance class that students take three times a week for a long block class.  They are earning class credit just as if they were taking a class during regular school hours and it can count as their VPA or PE required credits.  It’s going great so far.  Our students have already gone on a field trip to see a performance by Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre at Culver City Hall which was part of Culver City’s Centennial celebration.

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Welcome Onward Scholars Program

St. Mary’s Academy is excited to announce that, through the generosity of The John H. and Cynthia Lee Smet Foundation, 12 Belles from the Class of 2022 will make up Cohort I of Onward Scholars at SMA! 

The mission of the Onward Scholars Program is to promote academic excellence, foster an environment conducive to genuine peer support, expose students to leadership opportunities that instill a love of service, and empower goal-driven young women by providing resources that build skills for their path to higher education and lives of purpose.

Belles accepted into the program will receive a four-year scholarship to fund 75% of their tuition. Scholars will meet with the Program Director, Mrs. Rice, on a regular basis to receive support pursuing academic and personal goals through mentoring, access to college workshops, life skills education, and community service opportunities. 
In addition to the scholarship, each Scholar has access to a maximum of a $2,000 stipend over the four years from the Smet Foundation that the Program Director administers to offset the cost of activities or programs in line with the mission of Onward Scholars (e.g., summer college programs, test prep). 

To qualify to be an Onward Scholar, an applicant must be among the top students in her graduating class (with the target minimum cumulative GPA being a 3.5 during her middle school tenure) and have demonstrated leadership in her school and/or community.

To learn more about the Onward Scholars program at SMA, please go to admissions section of 
or contact:

Mrs. Michele Rice, Program Director

Onward Scholars at St. Mary’s Academy


Busy Belles Summer 2017

As always our Belles were busy, busy, busy this past summer .  Check out some of the exciting and enriching things they were up to:

Jailen Hewitt, Gold Tie ’18

Jailen volunteers with Kaiser Permanente West LA every Saturday working in the Family Child Center. She did some volunteer work at the Junior Blind Center doing data entry.  She also volunteered at the St. Joseph’s Center in Venice as a social work intern helping feed the needy and also helping out in child care.  She went on 2 college tours, EST BLACK COLLEGE TOUR, where she visited Bennett, Clark Atlanta, Howard, Spelman, Norfolk, Hampton & North Carolina AT&T, and also visited a few landmarks.  Her second college tour was in northern California with the UCLA Richard Riordan Business Program to UC Berkeley and Stanford  were she also got to tour Google & Survey Monkey.  Wow, what a jam packed summer!

Jessica Laar, Gold Tie ’18

Jessica worked a six week paid internship at Kaiser Permanente  in West Los Angeles, CA. The program is called Kaiser Permanente L.A.U.N.C.H. High School Summer Youth Employment Program.  L.A.U.N.C.H. is short for for Learn About Unlimited New Careers in Healthcare.

Jessica also participated in the C.S.J. Leadership Conference at Mt. St. Mary’s University, Doheny Campus in Los Angeles, CA in June.

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Belles and Books

On Wednesday, August 30th, we welcomed a group of alumnae back to St. Mary’s Academy for our fourth annual Belles and Books event! We tasked both students and alumnae to complete the same summer reading: Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell. In his book, Gladwell attempts to reveal the many factors at work that contribute to a person’s success and analyze patterns using examples from various fields, such as professional sports, tech, and music. These people who achieve extraordinary things he calls outliers.

Alumnae circulated through our English classes throughout the day and held lively discussions not only about the book and the author, but also about how they define success, what you can take away from well-known success stories, and whether they believe themselves to be outliers. This gave students an additional chance to hear and explore new perspectives on the book—and to get to spend some quality time getting to know our fantastic alums! Thank you so much to the alumnae who shared their time and their thoughts (as well as life anecdotes and advice!) with our Belles! 

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