The present campus of St. Mary's High School was
opened on September 6, 1956. St. Mary's High School
dates back to 1876, having been located at several
places in the city of Stockton, and having served
the community well. A larger school which could
provide for the growing student population had long
been recognized as a pressing need.
In the opening year of the present St. Mary's, which
is located on a 25 acre lot, the campus included the
administration building, four wings of classrooms, a
cafeteria, and ample playing fields. The
administrative staff of the school included Father
Xavier Harris, O.F.M., principal, and Sister M.
Colette, O.P., vice-principal, four Franciscan
priests, ten Dominican Sisters and seven lay
teachers. The student enrollment was 496. An
academic and commercial curriculum was supplemented
with classes in art, music appreciation and glee
club, in order to provide a cultural and liberal
arts education for the students. Auxiliary Bishop
Hugh A. Donohue of San Francisco presided at the
formal dedication of the new St. Mary's on May 19,
By the Fall of 1957, the enrollment of the school
had increased to 530 students. Plans were made
during this year for the construction of the Field
House, Bonaventure Hall, and for the equipping of
the football field with nightlights. These two
projects were completed for the opening of school,
The event of greatest importance for St. Mary's in
its fourth year was the graduation of 171 seniors on
June 15, 1960. Since the enrollment had risen to
705, permission was granted in May, 1960 to continue
with the expansion of the school plant. The
following buildings were contemplated: a gym/
auditorium, a student chapel, a Friary and a
Convent. Under the supervision of Father Everette
Chandler, O.F.M., these additions were completed and
dedicated on May 7, 1961, by Auxiliary Bishop Merlin
J. Guilfoyle of San Francisco. Father Chandler was
succeeded by Father Emery Tang who served as
principal until 1964. The Diocese of Stockton was
established in February, 1962, and in the spring of
that year, St. Mary's, after months of preparation,
was granted an accreditation of 5 years from a
Visiting Team of the Western Association of Schools
and Colleges. Father Tang was succeeded in turn by
Father Neil Scott in 1964 and Father Barnabus Hughes
At the conclusion of the school year 1967, the
Franciscan priests withdrew from St. Mary's High
School because of a shortage of teaching personnel.
Monsignor James DeGroot, the treasurer and assistant
superintendent of schools, was appointed principal.
In the Fall of 1970, the Oblates of St. Francis de
Sales were invited by Bishop Merlin J. Guilfoyle to
administer St. Mary's High School. Father Thomas P.
O'Neill, O.S.F.S., became principal; Sister Gene
McNally, O.P. was appointed vice principal. The
staff included six Oblate priests, one Oblate
brother, one Franciscan priest, one Diocesan priest,
nine Dominican sisters and twenty-one lay men and
women. The student enrollment for the year was 700.
In February, 1972, St. Mary's was visited by a team
from WASC and given an accreditation of full
approval for five years. During March, 1977, St.
Mary's was again visited by a team of evaluators
from WASC, and
as a result of this visitation, St. Mary's was
granted full accreditation for the next five years.
In the school year 1977-78, Sister Emilie Schenone,
O.P., replaced Sister Gene as vice-principal, and
Father John Fallon, O.S.F.S., replaced Father
O'Neill as principal. During the 1970's the
enrollment at St. Mary's steadily increased until it
reached capacity of 1,050 in 1980. A Computer Center
was established and located in what had been the
Library Reading Room. In March of 1983, St. Mary's
was once again visited by WASC and received a full
term of accreditation for six years.
In order to serve the Stockton community with
quality Catholic education and to insure a viable
future, St. Mary's undertook a two-year study of all
of its programs and publics. This study was
conducted under the direction of McManis Associates
of Washington, D.C., a management consultant firm.
The study showed that St. Mary's is a strong,
visible and viable institution. In July 1986, the
school administration was restructured and Mrs. Mary
Devincenzi was appointed Academic Dean and Father
John Foley appointed Curriculum Coordinator.
Following the successful completion of a WASC visit
in 1989 and the granting of a full term of six years
by the accrediting agency, St. Mary's undertook a
major restructuring. The President- Principal model
of governance was adopted with Father John Fallon
serving as President, Mr. Peter Morelli serving as
Principal and Mrs. Karen Gherardi became Academic
In order to provide for the ongoing improvement of
instruction and the development of curriculum, a
Curriculum Coordinator was appointed. In 1995, 2001
and 2007, and 2013, six-year terms of accreditation
were granted by WASC. The current term will expire
on June, 2019. The action was taken after a careful
study of the Visiting Committee Report, which noted
many laudable aspects of the school, citing the
quality of instruction being offered.
In the summer of 2004, site construction improvement
began in preparation for the Academic Services
Building. New water lines, fire sprinkler lines,
wiring, permits, and a new parking area were
In the summer of 2005, St. Mary's undertook the most
significant growth in the school's history since the
opening of the campus. The process of building the
Lagorio Family Academic Building, a 23,000 square
foot building containing a library, counseling
services, administrative and business offices,
faculty areas and classrooms. The necessity for our
school to improve its academic buildings and other
structures is paramount for the future of our high
school. This building was completed and became
operational for the 2006-07 school year.
In March of 2007 the school began construction on a
swimming pool complex. The Cortopassi Aquatics
Center was dedicated in September, 2007.
St. Mary's High School has a long and distinguished
history of preparing its students for the college
experience. The colleges to which St. Mary's
students have been admitted and the scholarships
awarded give testimony to the oustanding preparation
received here. In recognition of these facts,
beginning with the academic year 2010/11, St. Mary's
began to be known as St. Mary's High School, a
College Preparatory High School.
In 2012, St. Mary's under the direction of Kathy
Smith, Dean of Students and a parent committee
established a program for the community entitled
Empowering Young Women. On March18, the St. Mary's
chapel, Mary, Queen of Angels, was completely
remodeled and re-dedicated.
In 2012-13 St. Mary's received Full Accreditation.
The Bonaventure, Football dressing rooms and weight
rooms were demolished to make room for the new Chase
Family field house.
In 2013-14 the Basso Family Tennis Facility was
completed. St. Mary's formed a new Board of
In 2014-15 Father Fallon retired and was appointed
president emeritus St. Mary's formed a new Board of
Directors. Peter D. Morelli was appointed president
and Kathy Smith was appointed principal.
In the fall of 2014 the Chase Family Athletic
Performance Center opened.
In 2015-16 St. Mary's celebrated the 140th
anniversary of the school.
In 2017 Peter Morelli retired and Jim Brusa was