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, 1958.
The event of greatest importance for St. Mary's in its fourth
year was the graduation of 171 seniors on June 15,
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
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
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
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
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.
St. Mary's received a full six-year WASC-WCEA
Basso Family Tennis Facility was completed; St.
Mary's formed a new Board of Directors.
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
In 2015-16 St. Mary's celebrated the 140th
anniversary of the school.