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St. Mary’s Ryken Honors St. Francis Xaverian Society Pillars of the Community

On Thursday, March 7, the St. Mary’s Ryken honored the 2024 St. Francis Xaverian Society Pillars of the Community.

Congratulations to Sue Ann ’83 and Dan ’82 Armitage and Brian ‘84 and Kim Norris.

Pillars of the Community are friends and benefactors of St. Mary’s Ryken. They are committed to the same philosophies and ideals as our founders and, through their wisdom and generosity, seek to ensure that the highest quality of education will be available for future generations. 

“The entire St. Mary’s Ryken community is grateful for their vision, leadership, and dedicated service to our students, faculty, and staff, and all the lives they have touched,” said President Rick Wood.

St. Francis Xavier Honorees 24

Brian '84 and Kim Norris, Dan '82 and Sue Ann '83 Armitage, Paula and Dr. Rick Wood  

 

Sue Ann ’83 and Dan ’82 Armitage

Armitage St. Francis Xavier 24

Dr. Rick Wood, Dan '82 and Sue Ann '83 Armitage and Gwen Bankins, St. Mary's County Sheriff's Office Chaplain

 
Sue Ann ’83 and Dan ’82 Armitage grew up in St. Mary’s County. As alumni and parents of Sydney, a 2016 SMR graduate, the Armitages are recognized for their commitment to SMR, as well as to the community at large, dedicating decades of professional leadership, community service, and genuine friendship that have made our community a better place in which to live and learn.
 
The couple attended SMR at a pivotal time in the school’s history as St. Mary’s Academy and Ryken High School merged to create a co-educational Catholic high school to address declining enrollments at each of the schools. They embraced monumental change and continue to support the school’s efforts to provide a values-based, co-educational Catholic education for our exceptional students. After Dan and Sue Ann attended college, they returned home to St. Mary’s County to start their careers.
 
Dan worked for a local newspaper called The St. Mary’s Tide. He then enrolled in law school and clerked for the local firm of Kenney, Kaminetz & Lacer while completing his studies. Dan ultimately went into private practice in Leonardtown. Throughout his career, he has handled a variety of cases including personal injury claims, family law matters, and business planning. For twenty-three years, Dan has dedicated most of his time to representing the St. Mary’s County Department of Social Services, where he works on court cases for children in foster care. Through this work, he has helped more than 700 local children move out of the foster care system and into permanent homes, either through a safe return to family members or through adoption by foster parents.
 
Sue Ann (nee Lewis) started her law practice in St. Mary’s County in 1992. Throughout her career, she has worked in various legal arenas, gaining expertise in family law, traffic and criminal law, wills and estates, business matters, worker’s compensation, and personal injury claims. Her specialization in family law aligns with the majority of the Circuit Court landscape, where nearly 70 percent of cases involve family matters. Sue Ann also served as an adjunct professor at St. Mary’s College, teaching business law until the birth of her daughter.
 
In 1995, the couple married and merged their law practices, creating the firm of Armitage & Armitage, PA. Since graduating, Sue Ann and Dan have served the residents of our community for more than three decades.
 
Dan was selected to participate in the Maryland Bar Association’s Leadership Academy and its Mentorship Program, guiding younger lawyers in this community. He drafted the initial corporate charter for Three Oaks Center, and he has provided reduced-fee legal services to our county’s Housing Authority for more than twenty years. He served on the Board of Directors for Father Andrew White, S.J. School. Dan currently serves on the Advisory Board for the Court Appointed Special Advocates of Southern Maryland and for the Circuit Court’s Family Recovery Court.
 
Sue Ann’s commitment to the community is evident in her professional affiliations. She is completing her seventh year on the Board of Directors of SMR, where she serves on the Advancement Committee. She is a staunch supporter of SMR, showing up in truly meaningful ways for fundraising events, career days, and volunteer opportunities – to name a few.
 
She has also served on the board of the St. Mary’s County Bar Association and Bay Montessori School. She was appointed to the Judicial Nominating Commission in 1995 and was elevated to chairwoman in 2007. She headed this commission, which played an important role in choosing judges, until 2015. She is the vice president of the Southern Maryland Chapter for the Inns of Court, providing education and mentorship for lawyers, and connecting new practitioners with more experienced peers.
 
Through Armitage & Armitage, Sue Ann, and Dan provide free wills and powers of attorney for military personnel at the Patuxent River Naval Air Station. This continued dedication to service has earned them the Maryland State Bar Association’s Pro Bono Service Award.
 
Most recently, Sue Ann was named by The Daily Record Newspaper as a Power List of family law attorneys and Maryland’s Top 100 Women, which represents “the most influential figures in law, higher education, health care, business, financial services, and other fields.” Recipients in the legal category are recognized as “the finest practitioners in this complex legal field in Maryland.”

Brian ‘84 and Kim Norris

Norris St. Francis Xavier 24

Dr. Rick Wood, Brian '84 and Kim Norris, Jim '65 and Kathy Waring 

 

Brian ‘84 and Kim Norris have been key in growing and maintaining the amazing experience SMR provides to its students.

Brian and Kim have been ingrained in the fiber of St. Mary’s Ryken and the Southern Maryland Community. Their deep-seated commitment to improving the lives of the people of St. Mary’s County reaches beyond the SMR campus in many ways.

After graduating SMR, Brian served the community through roles in the building industry working to revitalize underserved communities through affordable housing while promoting historic preservation throughout Southern MD. He has also held important positions including Past President and Board Member of the Southern Maryland Navy Alliance, Member of the Baltimore Urban Land Institute, Past Chairman of the St. Mary’s Community Development Corporation, and member of the Hilton Hotels Owners Advisory Council.

His dedication and professional acumen led to his appointment as President and CEO of The Cherry Cove Group where he led the development of numerous significant community establishments including the Veterans Administration Clinic, East Run Medical Center, and numerous hotels that have bolstered the hospitality industry in the St. Mary’s community.

For nearly a decade, Brian has served SMR as an active trustee serving on the Board’s Facilities Committee and leading critical projects on campus including the development of the Donnie Williams Center. Our community is touched consistently by the impact Brian has made in nearly every corner of our campus. 

Kim Norris has served as Choir Teacher and Fine Arts Department Chair at SMR for nearly 14 years. As the recipient of the prestigious Theodore James Ryken award, the highest award in the Xaverian Brothers school community, Kim has demonstrated an unparalleled commitment to academic excellence while recognizing the talents of individuals and the importance of educating the whole person, as well as fulfilling the Gospel call to peace and justice.

Kim studied Music Education at St. Mary’s College and Piano Performance under the direction of Brian Ganz. She studied Choral Conducting at Shenandoah University Conservatory. She is a life-long resident of St. Mary’s County and has taught music and art for K to 8th grade at St. Michael’s school where she was also a substitute teacher and classroom aid for Kindergarten. Over the past 24 years, Kim served and continues to serve as pianist and organist accompanist for many churches in the county for masses, funerals, and weddings and has taught private piano lessons to children and adults. 

At SMR, Kim created the Youth Honors Chorus, Concert Cafes, the SMR show choir, and the Knight-n-Gales (an elite women's choir).  She has served on dozens of school committees, including the Tri-M National Music Honors Society Moderator for the last four years. She continually inspires others to live a life of faith through her example in and out of the classroom.  She has produced professional videos and audio recordings of these groups that were distributed to our larger community.  She constantly seeks ways to showcase student talents through community performances and state and regional competitions. Her preparation of the students for school masses transforms the faith experience for our school community.  Organizing bi-yearly trips to New York, Philadelphia, and Disney World expands the fine arts experience so that our students will have lifelong memories.  She has redesigned and refined concerts, productions, and performances to ensure they are high quality and professional. Most notably, Kim has served as Music Director for SMR’s school musicals including High School Musical, Into the Woods, Beauty and the Beast, Seussical, Thoroughly Modern Millie, Hello Dolly, The Little Mermaid, The Sound of Music, and, most recently, the 40th Anniversary of Godspell.

The Norrises have three children. Jacqueline ‘08, Kateline ‘10, and Jonathan ‘16 are all also graduates of SMR. They enjoy spending time with their granddaughter, Addie Jane.

Brian and Kim’s contributions to the St. Mary’s Ryken community are immeasurable as they impact our students in so many meaningful ways through arts programming that shapes young hearts and minds to practical and safe facilities for our entire community. The Norris’ quietly support every endeavor at SMR and every effort is better because they are involved. 
 

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