See Rock City

See Rock City

Sunday, March 27, 2016

St. Mary's Episcopal School (Memphis, Tennessee)

St. Mary's History Marker

St. Mary's Episcopal School is a private, independent school for girls from age 2 through 12th grade. It is the oldest private school in Memphis, Tennessee and has been described as being the oldest school for girls in the mid-south region.

St. Mary’s Episcopal School was established in 1847 by Mary Foote Pope. It is the oldest private school in Memphis. The school, founded at Calvary Episcopal Church, changed locations many times, including to Hernando, Mississippi in 1862 until the end of the Civil War.
Sister's Chapel and St. Mary's School for Girls 1900.jpg
Original cathedral building c. 1898 
From 1910 to 1949, Helen Loomis guided St. Mary's through the Great Depression and the two world wars. From 1949 to 1958, Gilmore Lynn directed St. Mary's through a period of growth, to 400 students. In 1953, she moved St. Mary's to its current location at the intersection of Perkins and Walnut Grove in Memphis.
Nathaniel C. Hughes was headmaster of St. Mary’s from 1962 to 1973. During his tenure, St. Mary's graduated an increasingly high percentage of National Merit Scholars, incorporated as an independent Episcopal school, and became the first independent girls’ school in Memphis to integrate its student body. Mary McClintock Davis, dean of the upper school from 1964 to 1979, "stood with Nat Hughes (the headmaster) to allow persons of all colors to be admitted" to the school. This occurred at a time when many private schools were being formed to avoid the integration in the public schools. St. Mary's grew rapidly during the 1970’s, with the upper school increasing from 107 to 250 students during Davis’s tenure. The school continued to have a diverse student body; in 2014, minorities represent a fifth of the student body. The school expanded physically with several large construction projects during the 2000s. In 2012 it upgraded its data, network and phone telecommunications systems to permit greater use of technology.

St. Mary's Episcopal Cathedral
St. Mary's Episcopal School has been supported by the Bishops of the Dioceses of Tennessee and West Tennessee. The school has been associated with the Church of the Holy Communion since 1953. It has previously been associated with Calvary Episcopal Church, St. Mary's Cathedral, and Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
St. Mary's is a college preparatory program. Girls can also participate in many extracurricular activities, including sports, mock trial, debate, theater, robotics, recycling competitions. Another project by students involved recycling efforts.
St. Mary's is a member school of the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association. Middle and Upper School students can compete in soccer, cross country, golf, volleyball, basketball, bowling, dance, swimming, fencing, lacrosse, track and field, tennis, and trap shooting.
The mascot of St. Mary's is the Turkey. In the spring semester of 2013, USA Today included the St. Mary's Turkey in the Best High School Mascot Contest. Online voting led the Turkey to win first place in the state of Tennessee, followed by a first place victory in the Southeast region. The regional win advanced the Turkey to the national competition, where it placed fifth.
Notable Alumnae: