Student Stories

Noah Guadagnoli 2019

“St. Mary’s Ryken allowed me to grow in my faith and academics throughout my four years. The teachers are all dedicated to helping you succeed, and their ultimate goal is to help make you a better person and a better thinker. If I had to choose a high school all over again, I would definitely select SMR!”  – Noah Guadagnoli ’19

Noah is attending Elon University, where he is studying biochemistry.





Sarah Walls 2019

“St. Mary’s Ryken provided me opportunities to have leadership positions in the fine arts that would not have been available elsewhere (such as the Fine Arts Honors Society, the new Graphic Design and Photography classes and the Scholars Program). By taking advantage of these opportunities, I was able to become more confident in my art and where it stood, and I was able to help my community with artistic outreach.” – Sarah Walls ’19

Sarah is studying fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.


Class of 2018
Faith is attending the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, in the Meyerhoff Scholars Program. This program builds leaders in the areas of science, technology, engineering and related fields.

"St. Mary's Ryken has excellent facilities and technology, but the greatest resources are the teachers. Through their compassion and dedication I have formed mentorships with teachers that will last beyond high school. They are absolutely committed to student success and are always available for discussions and guidance. The zeal that St. Mary's Ryken teachers have regarding their students is truly unique and is one of the reasons I am proud to be a Knight! "



Class of 2018
Jonathan played on the varsity basketball and lacrosse teams, was an XBSS steward and member of National Honor Society. He is attending the University of Maryland at College Park as a member of the College Park Scholars and will pursue an engineering degree.

"I enjoyed the many options for extracurricular activities during high school because being involved allows me to get out of my comfort zone and learn things about myself that otherwise I would not know. The activities also allow me to meet new people, sometimes who I may have never met or talked to, and this allows me to make more connections and think of new perspectives. I’ve enjoyed the challenges along the way, and also have made great friends. "



Class of 2018
Jelani received the Millennium Service Award for over 1,000 service hours in her four years at St. Mary’s Ryken. She is attending Johnson & Wales University in Rhode Island, where she plans to graduate as an emergency medicine physician assistant.

"I have volunteered with many organizations including S.H.A.R.E. food pantry, the Boys & Girls Club, Humane Society, feeding the homeless, and various activities with my church. I completed a lot of activities with the SMR campus ministry including at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, Ronald McDonald House and others. Going to a school that embraces service was very important to me, and St. Mary’s Ryken has expanded my service opportunities. You have so many chances to volunteer here! I think that service should be a priority in everyone’s life because God has already given us so much. My mother always told me that God gave us two hands for a reason - one to help ourselves and one to help others. "


Xintian "Mike"

Class of 2018
Founded in the 15th century, St Andrews is Scotland's first university and the third oldest in the English-speaking world. While at St. Andrews, Mike is studying social anthropology.

"St. Mary’s Ryken gave me the opportunity to do independent research projects, play instruments with professional musicians and take college-level classes such as AP Art History. With these experiences, I am very prepared to attend the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. "



Class of 2018 - Student-Athlete (Field Hockey, Swimming, and Girls Lacrosse

"Zeal is the Xaverian value that enables us to express our joy for the Lord. Through zeal, we show enthusiasm in pursuit of God. Not only do students at St. Mary's Ryken show zeal, but so do the teachers! "



Class of 2020
Brady is on the sailing team, part of the Scholars Program Engineering Pathway and a Boy Scout.

"All of my teachers display Zeal. One of the best examples is my Spanish teacher, Señora Gensley. She is always enthusiastic about her work, and her smile brightens up any room. Walking into her room, I feel an aura of happiness and I am instantly excited to learn. "



Class of 2019
Sarah was a member of the SMR Show Choir and participated in theatre productions.

"It feels great knowing that St. Mary’s Ryken fully supports and encourages community service. It’s becomes less of a “requirement” and more of a calling, knowing that by serving others, we are serving Christ as well. "



Class of 2019
Alexis transferred to SMR and played girls basketball.

"At SMR we are treated like college students and young adults. We are given a sense of freedom. The community here is extremely friendly and welcoming! I’m so glad that am an SMR student!" ”



Class of 2017 - Ready for the United States Naval Academy!

"I believe that St. Mary’s Ryken specifically helped to prepare me for the United States Naval Academy by placing an emphasis on character. The academy’s honor concept states: Midshipmen are to be persons of integrity and stand for what is right. I've seen that modeled day after day while being a student at SMR by our coaches, teachers, administrators and students. These morals and values, along with the college preparatory curriculum, has helped to prepare me for the expectations of the Naval Academy."

Out of 16,000 applicants, Grant was one of 1,200 accepted to the USNA Class of 2021.

Grant was a member of the National Honor Society, and varsity football and track teams, and he received the Ryken Award for a top athlete who demonstrates character and high academic standards.



Class of 2017 - Off to Stanford University!

"I am confident that my time at St. Mary's Ryken will enable me to be successful at Stanford. The academic rigor of the AP classes and the Scholars Program prepared me for a competitive university. The inspiring SMR community and welcoming campus have made my high school experience memorable!" ”

Rhys completed the biomedical track in the SMR Scholars Program. She was also a member of the varsity volleyball team, National Honor Society and Interact Club, and tutored younger students.



Class of 2017 - Continued performing at Shenandoah Conservatory

"The SMR Fine Arts department really helped me discover and explore my creativity. The dedication of the fine arts faculty has impacted my life decisions, and I will be an acting major at Shenandoah Conservatory this fall!"



Class of 2017 - Class Speaker

Class speaker, Tiffany Tran was chosen by faculty and staff from the group of students with the top 10 cumulative GPAs over their four years at SMR. Tiffany is attending the University of Maryland, Honors College in the fall.


Jacob - Earns Top GPA

Class of 2017 – Scholars Program Student-Athlete (Ice hockey and Lacrosse)

Senior Jacob O’Hara spoke to SMR graduates, their families, faculty and staff during the Baccalaureate Mass at Our Lady Star of the Sea Catholic Church, Solomons, Md. The senior who earns the top cumulative GPA over their four years at SMR receives the prestigious Xaverian Orator award. Jacob is attending the University of Notre Dame in the fall.

“Should you take the honors class and get an A, or should you take the AP and get a B? I say, 'Take the AP and get an A!' I believe that students rise to the challenges that they set before themselves, and, especially at St. Mary's Ryken, students who embrace challenges are able to thrive. At SMR, if you want to fill your schedule with AP courses, you can. I have never been limited in my academics here, and subsequently I've found that my own limits are nowhere in sight. SMR students have control over their academic career, and that kind of autonomy allows students to test their own boundaries and find new passions that they never knew they had. "



Class of 2019 - Stage Guild

"I like being part of the stage guild because it gives me the option of being more involved. The fine arts faculty wants me to be the best that I can be, and will go out of their way to help me make it happen. I also love that my classes include upper and under classmen who share like interests, and who can help me to improve."



Class of 2020 - Scholars Program

"I’d always looked forward to attending SMR. Now that I’m a student here, I know that all the amazing things I’d heard are true. You get to meet new friends that come from many different schools. The teachers are always willing to help if you’re struggling and they truly care that you are learning. I’m so proud to be a KNIGHT!"



Class of 2020 – Fine Arts Dance Scholarship Recipient

"The diversity at SMR means that students with all interests and backgrounds have an equal chance to create independent experiences. For me, being able to study dance, while also studying the liberal arts, will keep my options open for college, since I have not yet chosen one career path. Many things interest me, and at SMR I can study them all."



Class of 2018 - Student-Athlete (Football and Wrestling)

Being a student at St. Mary's Ryken is a great experience. I believe that it is great for the high level of academics and the sports program, and everything in between. Coming to SMR introduced me to many different social groups of people. This allowed me to grow as a person and really see where I want to be in the huge scheme of my life. Attending SMR was the best decision because of how I have grown since my freshman year, and gotten closer to the person I aspire to be. I am very happy here and am excited to see what is still to come throughout my time as a St. Mary's Ryken student!