Saint Mary's Academy
Message from Brother James Depiro, Principal of SMA
Opening in 1932 to a few dozen students, the St. Mary’s Academy sought to serve the Catholic population of the Commonwealth of Dominica in the field of education. The Redemptorist Fathers opened the doors to the school on a corner building located on Virgin Lane. The Christian Brothers later succeeded them in 1955. The present location on Turkey Lane was secured in 1960 and its doors opened to approximately 250 students.
In the mid-1990’s, the “new wing” was built offering five more classrooms, a library, a science lab, a computer lab, an office, and a staff room. At present, there are 385 students in Forms 1 through 5at the St. Mary’s Academy. While most students live within the Roseau catchment area and its environs, many still come from as far north as Mahaut and as far south as Soufriere and Scotts Head. Some students also come from other parts of the island.
The school, while owned and operated by the Bishop of Roseau and the Catholic Schools Board of Management, it is considered a government-assisted school. This means the government grants the school money for salaries of its teaching staff as well as an annual stipend of EC $45 per child. Additionally, students currently pay an additional EC $525 in school fees for the year and are also responsible for the costs of books, school supplies, school uniforms, and transportation. Students who excel in the Grade Six National Assessment Exams (formerly referred to as Common Entrance Exams) are awarded scholarships / bursaries and are provided financial disbursements over a five-year period to assist families in meeting these costs. Select businesses and other agencies assist families in meeting these costs as well.
The effects of Tropical Storm Erika have provided a first-hand view into the needs of our families and the school. This storm brought to light the fragility of our country’s infrastructure wherein about two dozen of our families required a significant amount of assistance: several were displaced, multiple families lost everything, and some even experienced death in their family. While recovery and rebuilding efforts are ongoing, the full economic impact of the storm has yet to be felt. Many families of SMA students have been too proud to express their losses and the school is still working to identify students in need. However, through the efforts of the Christian Brothers in North America, Caritas, and local relief agencies, some of these needs have been met.
Today, more families than usual have trouble with school fees and related costs. Although SMA’s buildings did not sustain significant structural damage during Tropical Storm Erika, the facilities are in need of capital maintenance repairs which require funding. Additionally, amid advancements in educational methods and technology, St. Mary’s Academy requires institutional enhancements to provide our students with the necessary tools to develop and be competitive in a global society.
In April 2016, Form 5 students held their last assembly at which they showed their appreciation for all that was done. This was followed by a closing liturgy at Morne Bruce. The priest relayed to the students the need for continued placement of trust in our Heavenly Father as they transition from SMA into the “Real World.” Indeed, our students are in need of a renewed sense of mentorship and role models to provide guidance and aspirational attributes for success.
This is what St. Mary's Academy has accomplished since 1932, develop young men of integrity and character who are educated not just academically but also in the principles of Christian faith. These are the core ideals which have enabled legions of ‘Old Boys’ to demonstrate their faith in our Creator and ultimately become educated men of faith and ambassadors of our Alma Mater. It is with this reinvigorated spirit that we are sounding the call for the ‘Old Boys’ family to give back to Saint Mary’s Academy and support the primary goals of this foundation: Scholarship, Stewardship, and Mentorship.