Belles Blog

a blog about St. Mary's Academy

A New Year’s Message from the Principal

Welcome back SMA!

It’s a blessing to be welcomed back into the new year. I wake up every morning excited and grateful to start and end my work day with my SMA community. Before we look ahead into the Spring Semester, I want to take this moment to highlight some of the wonderful things that took place Fall Semester. We implemented some major facility upgrades to continue to enjoy our beautiful school. One of the most apparent upgrades is heating and cooling in every classroom. This has kept our students and teachers happy and comfortable so that more learning can take place. In the curriculum world, writing has been a major push this year. Overall, students are writing more and improving in their writing and analytical skills. Also, our alumnae presence is becoming stronger and more vibrant. Toastmasters, for example, was started this year by one of our blue tie Alumnae Jill White. This organization has helped our young women build their skills in leadership and public speaking. We have also held a number of career path and college field trips like the Little Company of Mary hospital, UCLA and USC schools of engineering, ACE construction sites, LACMA, musicals, and various colleges to provide overall enrichment for our girls. We have also welcomed in a stellar freshmen class who did an amazing job singing the Alma Mater, presenting their mascot and saint, and creating and singing their class song to earn their green ties. Their energy and positive spirit has been infectious and a wonderful addition to our school culture. In addition, red ties received their class rings earlier this year and have been a strong presence in our Advanced Placement courses. They are thriving in their academic studies and are diligently preparing to take their SATs in a couple months.

These were only a handful of the wonderful things that took place last semester. I wanted to thank everyone who contributed to the successes of Fall Semester, especially Dr. Nah, who served as Acting Principal while I was on maternity leave. I am grateful for his leadership and commitment to our mission.

As we move into the 2018 Spring Semester, there is much to look forward to. In just a few days, we will witness our blue ties perform at their Sophomore Showcase. They have worked incredibly hard for this big event, and we are all excited to cheer them on. Lastly, I am looking forward to seeing our kind-hearted, respectful, and loving gold ties finish strong this semester as they prepare for their journey beyond high school. I have seen this special group of young women grow and while I will miss them, God has a special plan for each one of them beyond these SMA walls. I can’t wait to see where the road leads them.

It truly is a blessing to be back. I am so thankful to have had the past few months just being with my son, who is now almost five months. I am excited to develop both my roles as a new mother and new principal. While my journey may not be easy, I know that God will guide me through it all. I am excited to be back and I am ready! Let’s do this!

Mrs. Batungbacal

2017 in Review- #belleoftheweek

As we close out the first semester of the 2017-18 school year,  here’s a look back at all of our impressive Belles that earned a Belle of the Week nomination.  We can’t wait to see who earns nominations next semester.  There are so many Belles doing impressive things!

Our first #belleoftheweek for 2017-18 is our Student Leadership Council President, Gold Tie ’18, Ahlyssa Toscano. She gave great advice to fellow classmates at our welcome back assembly.:

“Seniors: This year is all about decision making. What colleges you will be applying to, what school you will be attending, and what prom dress you will choose to wear on our special night. I know that all of you have the power to succeed this year so stay positive and strive to be your best self. I love you guys and I can’t wait to see you triumph in your final year of high school.

Juniors: Congratulations, you are officially upper class women. Although your junior year will definitely be your toughest year, remember to never give up and to always try your best. Be prepared, work hard don’t spread yourself too thin, and always remember to put yourself and your needs first. Good luck and I hope you all finish the year strongly.

Sophomores: Congratulations on finishing your freshman year. Now although your sophomore year is considered the “awkward year” of your high school career, I know you will all do amazing. Don’t slack off in any of your classes and always aspire to be the best you can be. Good luck and I look forward to seeing what you guys have in store for us for your sophomore showcase!

Freshmen: Welcome to St. Mary’s Academy! I hope you all are getting familiar with the school since this will be your second home for the next 4 years. Work hard not only your freshman year but throughout all your four years of high school and work harder than you currently are because I know you have it in you — that is why you’re here! Get involved with the school, join clubs, sports teams etc… I wish you the best of luck and I look forward to seeing you girls flourish into young ladies of distinction… wearing Green Ties, of course! ”

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Field Trips Recap

What a jam packed first semester.  Take a look back at all the experiential learning our students did outside of the traditional classroom setting these past few months.  We’re so lucky to live in a city with an abundance of cultural

institutions, activities and organizations that we can partner with to make these types of trips possible.  Thank you to all who opened their doors, provided bus funding, and helped educate our Belles!

The Blue Ties and Green Ties in Health Careers go on a monthly clinical visit to Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center that provides a look into the numerous clinical areas at the hospital. Students shadow the clinicians in the operating rooms, surgical units, dietary department, physical and occupational therapy departments, women’s health center, laboratory, cardiac cath lab and bioengineering. Learning one on one from the dedicated staff at the hospital allows the students to apply what they study in the classroom to real health care world experiences. LCOM Medical Center is a wonderful and generous partner of SMA!

September 8- Through a new partnership with Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre our after school dance class attends professional performances by the company with a Q & A after.  For the first trip they went to see a performance at Culver City Hall which was part of Culver City’s Centennial celebration. Continue reading

SMA Belles Class Reunions: Keeping the Sisterhood Alive!

One of the unique aspects about St. Mary’s Academy are the class reunions where our alumnae walk down memory lane to reflect on the wonderful time they had together during high school. Some reunions invite former teachers and staff who were an important part of their high school experience. It is a wonderful time for our alumnae to reminisce about their student days and update each other on what has happened since their last meeting.

SMA is proud of the increase of class reunions happening on our campus where our alumnae will walk the hallways, meet our current students, and learn more about the growth and enhancements happening at our school.

An annual reunion that SMA hosts on campus is the Golden Grads Luncheon where classes of 50, 60 and 70 years are invited back on Graduation day to not only celebrate their own graduation milestone, but to also welcome the graduating class as the newest members of our SMA alumnae family. For the recent graduation of the class of 2017, we were pleased to welcome back the Red Tie Class of 1967 celebrating their 50th anniversary, the Green Tie Class of 1957 celebrating their 60th anniversary, and the Red Tie Class of 1947 celebrating their 70th anniversary. Class years that celebrate their 50th reunion may host a weekend filled with events which includes attending Graduation and the Golden Grads Luncheon. As part of their 50th reunion, the Red Tie Class of 1967 participated in various activities throughout the weekend and through their planning and organizing was generous to include a $5,000 class gift to SMA’s Greatest Needs Fund.

This school year, our Golden Grads Luncheon will be on Saturday, June 9, 2018, and we are pleased to celebrate the graduation of the Gold Tie Class of 2018 and welcome home the Blue Tie Class of 1968, the Gold Tie Class of 1958, and Blue Tie Class of 1948. Invitations and more information will be sent to our Golden Grads in the New Year!

For more information on planning your reunion at St. Mary’s Academy or to invite St. Mary’s Academy staff/students to an off-campus class reunion, please contact Karen Vetter at or 310-674-8470 x322.

Below is a recap of class reunions that occurred during the Fall Semester:

September 16, 2017 – Green Ties of 1989 celebrated their 28th Anniversary at St. Mary’s Academy with a campus tour, tacos and margaritas in our school quad!

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Engineering Career Path Program Update

The SMA Engineering Program prepares young women for successful college careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM). By engaging in a cross-disciplinary classroom experience as well as design projects and team competitions with other schools, girls graduate from the program fully qualified and motivated to meet the demands of STEM courses in college. The program is certified by Project Lead the Way, a nationwide coordinated engineering education curriculum. For these reasons, and because of the focus on mathematics and science, the SMA Engineering Program is unique among all-female high schools in the Los Angeles area.

The program offers three project-based engineering classes: Introduction to Engineering Design, Introduction to Computer Engineering, and Principles of Engineering.

This year, we are offering Introduction to Engineering Design and Introduction to Computer Engineering.   The major focus of Introduction to Engineering Design (IED) is the design process and its application. Through hands-on projects, students apply engineering standards and document their work. Students learn to brainstorm, sketch designs, and use an industry standard 2D modeling software to help them design and create solutions to solve proposed problems and communicate their work to their peers.

Students in action in IED:

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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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