Brother Richard Angarola Reflection
When I had the opportunity to join the Ryken High faculty in the fall of 1980, I truly felt that I was coming home to the school from which I graduated 20 years before.
What a momentous school year 1980–81 was to be. The entire school faculty of Xaverian Brothers and lay faculty, as well as the 200 boys, their parents and alumni, were anticipating it with some fear and trepidation, as this would be the last year of Ryken High School.
About two miles away at St. Mary’s Academy, the same scenario was being played out, although with a different cast — the wonderful Sisters of Charity, the 200 or so girls at the school, their parents and alumnae. They also felt the anxiety as their beloved school would be closing after 99 years of service to the Southern Maryland community.
At RHS, I assumed the duties of assistant principal to Brother Matthew Burke and quickly learned that several of my own former classmates had sons at school. That year was filled with the usual tasks of running a school including shooing Brother Rom’s goats away from the buildings, and other responsibilities that are the normal and sometimes not-so-normal things that go into running a school.
Added to all of the above were the neverending meetings between the faculties of RHS and SMA in preparation for the consolidation of both schools; construction of new facilities for the girls’ locker rooms and bathrooms; choosing the name of the school and school colors; how to bring together the curricula of both schools; the melding of the faculties of both schools; and probably another 1,001 other questions that both schools had, and how these questions would be resolved.
To say that the school year was tension-free would not be an accurate statement. All of us — the RHS community, the SMA community, and all the supporting entities of each school — were fearful, and in some cases doubtful, that this new school, St. Mary’s Ryken, would succeed.
It is now 2021, the 40th anniversary of St. Mary’s Ryken High School. The work and the dedication that the Sisters and the Brothers, as well as the lay faculties of both schools, put into this endeavor have been extraordinary.
But most importantly, you — past and present students — have made SMR what it is today.
SMR continues to live the legacy of the Sisters of Charity of Nazareth and the Xaverian Brothers. The work, sweat, tears and doubts of 1980–81 no longer seem relevant. We succeeded, and today SMR is a wonderful testament to Catholic secondary education in Southern Maryland.
Congratulations to all who have come before and to all of you presently part of St. Mary’s Ryken.
Ad multos annos, SMR.