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ALISO VIEJO | Community News Focus

Work to Start on All-Girls High School


A ground-breaking ceremony today will launch St. Mary Academy for Girls, an all-female high school set to open for ninth-grade students this fall.

"This endeavor was inspired by the need for quality educational institutions at the high school level," said the Rev. Ernest D. Sillers, the school's founder and headmaster. "There is certainly room in the community for our academy."

Though the independent school is not affiliated with a particular church, Sillers said, it is founded on Christian principles and will focus on traditional education and strong family values. It will also be the only all-female high school in south Orange County.

"The goal is to work with parents to develop an atmosphere that promotes leadership," Sillers said, plus an environment with positive role models and challenging academics.

At the all-girls school, young women will take leadership roles in student government and other organizations that on co-ed campuses are often filled by male students.

The school will feature small classes, a rigorous college preparatory curriculum and opportunities for religious study and spiritual growth, he said. It also plans to offer competitive athletics, clubs and community service projects.

Plans call for a 31,000-square-foot facility with 22 classrooms and a library with a computer lab. Work is to be completed by late October, said Kris Martin, the academy's director of development, and will be financed in part with about $200,000 in private donations.

Until construction is completed, the academy will use classrooms at its sister school, St. Mary and All Angels, a co-ed preschool through eighth grade school, which will share a campus with the academy.

School officials said they expect to expand enrollment to include 10th through 12th grades and eventually to have a combined student body of 850 students at St. Mary Academy for Girls and St. Mary and All Angels School.

Sillers opened St. Mary and All Angels School in September 1994. He also founded St. John's Episcopal School in Rancho Santa Margarita and St. Margaret's Episcopal School in San Juan Capistrano.

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