History of St. Mary's Ryken
St. Mary's Ryken was established in 1981 and traces its roots in Catholic education to St. Mary's Academy (est. 1885) and Ryken High School (est. 1956). SMR celebrated its 30th anniversary in the 2010-11 academic year.
The Sisters of Charity of Nazareth opened St. Mary's Academy (SMA) in 1885 on the grounds of the property known as Rose Hill in Leonardtown. Mrs. Richard H. Miles bequeathed the property to Father Charles Jenkins, S.J., with the intent that it be used by "a religious order to conduct a Catholic school." SMA grew rapidly as a coeducational boarding school and accepted students from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The burgeoning population of St. Mary's County and Southern Maryland soon rendered the academy too small and a new school building was erected in 1936. In 1956, the school expanded yet again with a dormitory, convent and chapel. With the opening of the new, all boys Ryken High School, the sisters carried on their selfless dedication as a school for young women.
In 1916, to their good fortune, the Xaverian Brothers purchased over one hundred acres along Breton Bay from Mr. Enoch Abell and opened a camp for boys known as Camp Calvert. Young men flocked from the cities to spend a few weeks of their summer vacations there. The brothers' vision for this property was to eventually build a school and novitiate for boys and, in 1956, their dream became reality with the opening of Ryken High School (RHS). The school, named after Theodore James Ryken, founder of the Xaverian order, served as a juniorate for those with vocations to the Xaverian Brothers as well as a high school for young men.
Eventually, with a diminishing number of boarders and vocational candidates, both SMA and RHS closed their dormitories and operated solely as Catholic high schools. SMA and RHS supported each other through sports programs, theater and music productions, dances, proms and academic instruction. By the late 1970s, both schools experienced declining enrollments and agreed to merge into one coeducational Catholic high school.
St. Mary's Ryken opened its doors in 1981 and held classes in three buildings: Paschal Hall, Rupert Hall and Xavier Hall. The buildings had been in constant use as a school since 1956, but it wasn't until 1994 that renovations began. Rupert was the first, undergoing interior and exterior refurbishing from 1994-96 when computer technology labs were also installed. Xavier Hall renovations began in 1996 and, that same year, the cafeteria underwent renovations and the addition of air conditioning (1996-99).
The year 1999 was quite busy:
- Ground was broken for Romuald Hall, the fine and performing arts building that houses the Media Center, a 320-seat theater and six, social studies classrooms.
- The cafeteria was dedicated as Alumni Hall.
- Renovations to the "Brothers' House" were completed and the building was dedicated as Lambert Hall, in honor of Brother Lambert Bents, CFX, the founding principal of RHS.
- The tennis courts were dedicated.
- The exterior of Paschal Hall and its classrooms were refurbished.
The dawn of the new millenium brought more upgrades and additions:
- In 2000, the biology labs in Xavier Hall were renovated.
- In 2002, the library in Rupert Hall is gutted and transformed into the new chapel. The chapel is dedicated as the Chapel of Charity in honor of the three Abell sisters who were members of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth.
- In 2004, computer technology across the campus is upgraded.
- In 2005, the Paschal Hall gym is refurbished and a new state-of-the-art floor is installed. Construction of a sailing center on Breton Bay begins.
- In 2006, the baseball field is refurbished and brick dugouts are added. This year also sees the campus go wireless and all of the faculty receive laptop computers.
By 2007, the increase in the student population stretched the limits of the existing facilities and board of directors commissioned a study to develop a strategic master plan for the school. In 2007, Xavier Hall was refurbished gaining two, new academic classrooms; an athletic trainer's room was created in Paschal Hall, the girls' locker room was renovated; and the Rupert Hall Senior Courtyard was renovated. In 2008, the Paschal Hall gym was air conditioned and extensive renovations were completed to Rupert Hall.
In 2009, St. Mary's Ryken embarked on the first significant reshaping of its campus in almost 30 years. Phase 1 of the Strategic Master Plan was put into action with the groundbreaking for the SMR Athletic Complex. In this year, all of Paschal Hall was air conditioned and an annex was added that includes an office for the Athletics Director and a new boys' team and locker room. A 340-space parking lot was built on the grounds of the old student parking lot and the field behind Paschal Hall. Construction of the new 1,000-seat stadium with pressbox, artificial turf field and six-lane track began and was completed in August 2010.