Under Father Forhan’s dedicated supervision, and through his enduring love and commitment to children, St. Mary’s School, a modern, red brick building, was built and completed in 1967. It opened its doors in September 1967 as a parish school, servicing 116 students in grades one through four. The Sisters of Saint Joseph and one layperson staffed St. Mary’s School.
Grades five, six, seven, and eight were added one grade per year for the next four years. St. Mary’s serviced children in grades one through eight from 1971 until 1978, when a half-day kindergarten was introduced. St. Mary’s had its highest enrollment in 1971 with 277 students. Several classes at that time exceeded thirty-five students. Its lowest enrollment came in 1977 with 159 students in attendance. After this low point, enrollment did increase again so that the kindergarten began offering two half-day sessions in 1982.
Monsignor Devine believed, as did Father Forhan, in the importance of a Catholic education. He also believed in keeping it affordable to as many families as possible. During his tenure as pastor, tuition was kept low and the parish assumed a large portion of the school’s financial obligations. After his passing in October 2000, finances were reviewed. It was realized that continuing in this manner would not be in the best interest of the economic future of the parish or school. The parents agreed that the school must be able to shoulder more of the financial obligations to ensure a stable future for St. Mary’s School. They had accepted the tuition increases and had committed their time and talent to fundraising campaigns.
With this community spirit, St. Mary’s School has continued to move forward with its commitment to offer a Christ-centered, challenging academic education. In 2002, kindergarten was extended to a full day program. The most recent addition to the St. Mary’s school community was the establishment of a pre-kindergarten program in 2003.
St. Mary’s School became St. Mary’s Academy in 2006.
St. Mary’s has always evaluated its educational offerings and has, through the years, made changes and additions to benefit its students, as they journey to reach their full potential. Spanish and computer programs have been added to the original curriculum. The physical education, music, health and an art program have been enhanced by hiring teachers with expertise in these areas to teach these programs to St. Mary’s students.
St. Mary’s School is truly a “community” school. It continues to serve children from St. Mary’s parish, from the greater Springfield area, and several cities and towns in Connecticut. The school building also serves as the meeting place for school and parish functions.
St. Mary’s Academy is presently staffed by lay teachers. Holding true to Sister Mary H. Murray, S.S.J., Ph.D., author of Seed Sown on Good Ground: A History of St. Mary’s Parish, we believed then and now that, “The true value of Catholic school education is the emphasis placed on daily training in Christian values”.
The philosophy of St. Mary’s Academy is grounded in the faith and moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. We recognize the importance of providing our children of all faiths with a guideline for moral development by adhering to the virtues of charity and justice.
St. Mary’s Academy strives to develop the moral, spiritual, cultural, physical, and intellectual potential of each student. Through our curriculum, activities, and daily lives, we remain focused on the individual child. We strive to educate all aspects of the child by recognizing differences in learning style, fostering an atmosphere of understanding and love, and our dedication. We challenge our students to excel while motivating them to develop an enthusiasm for learning. We endeavor to affirm a positive self-image among each member of our community and to encourage the fulfillment of one’s highest potential as a child of God.