The First 135 Years School History Chronological List of Principals

Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, Toledo-Detroit Province

Dominican Sisters of San Rafael

Franciscan Friars of California


Past to Present


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, 1957.


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, 1958.


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 serve 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 in 1966. 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 Dean. 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, six-year terms of accreditation were granted by WASC. The current term will expire on June 30, 2013. 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 installed. 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. The Basso Tennis Complex was completed in 2011.


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 will be known as St. Mary's High School, a College Preparatory High School.


In 2012, St. Mary's under the direction of Kathy Smith, then Dean of Students and now Principal, and a parent committee established a program for the community entitled Empowering Young Women. In 2012, the St. Mary's chapel, Mary, Queen of Angels, was completely remodeled and was re-dedicated on March, 18, 2012.


In th 2012-13 St. Mary's was visted by a WASC/WCEA team. Accreditation was given for another term. The Bonaventure, Football dressing rooms and weight rooms were demolished to make room for a new field house, scheduled to be completed in October, 2014.

In 2013-14 St. Mary's received a full six-year WASC-WCEA accreditation; .the Basso Family Tennis Facility was completed; St. Mary's formed a new Board of Directors.

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.





Chronological List of St. Mary's Principals


Mr. Peter D. Morelli, Principal

Rev. John P. Fallon, O.S.F.S. President Emeritus

Mrs. Kathy SMith, Principal


Rev. John P. Fallon, O.S.F.S., President

Mr. Peter D. Morelli, Principal


Rev. John P. Fallon, O.S.F.S.


Sr. Angela Sweeney, O.P.


Rev. Thomas P. O'Neill, O.S.F.S.


Sr. Francesca Harkins, O.P..


Msgr. James A. DeGroot


Sr. Mathew McManus, O.P.


Rev. Barnabas Hughes, O.F.M.


Sr. Angela Sweeney, O.P.


Rev. Neil P. Scott, O.F.M.


Sr. Reginald Garvin, O.P.


Rev. Emery Tang, O.F.M.


Sr. Thomasine Best, O.P.


Rev. Everett Chandler, O.F.M.


Sr. Regis Fitzgerald, O.P.


Rev. Xavier J. Harris, O.F.M.


Sr. Raphael O'Donnell, O.P.


Sr. M. Colette Standart, O.P.


Sr. Anthony Walsh, O.P.


Sr. Geraldine Mellott, O.P.


Sr. Reginald Garvin, O.P.


Sr. David Barry, O.P.


Sr. Rose Lamasney, O.P.


Sr. Maurice Powers, O.P.


Sr. Reginald Garvin, O.P.


Sr. Vincent Ferrer Wheeler, O.P.


Sr. Evangelist Falls, O.P.


Sr. James Ryan, O.P.


Sr. M. Louis O'Donnell, O.P.


Sr. Joan Glynn, O.P.


Sr. Evangelist Falls, O.P.


Sr. Marie Thomas, O.P.


Sr. M. Raymond Murphy, O.P.



Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, Toledo-Detroit Province

Dominican Sisters of San Rafael

Franciscan Friars of California

School History Chronological List of Principals


St. Mary's High School
5648 N. El Dorado St.
Stockton, CA 95207