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Mission, Vision, and History


St. Mary's Academy fosters excellence in each child through academic achievement, spiritual development, and service. The Loretto School Values of faith, community, justice, and respect provide the foundation for students to be powerful agents of change.



Inspiring leaders to act with integrity, seek justice, build community, and change the world.

More than 150 years ago, before the Colorado Territory was formed in 1861, a key necessity was missing in Denver: a stable educational experience for the children of families new to the frontier. In 1864, three courageous and selfless Sisters of Loretto traveled by mail coach from their home in Santa Fe, New Mexico to Denver to open St. Mary’s Academy. In the introduction to St. Mary's Academy - 150 years, former Colorado State Historian William J. Convery described the founders as transplanting knowledge from the East but also, “tolerance and respect for diversity, and a commitment to justice.” SMA conferred the first diploma in the Colorado Territory to Jessie Forshee.

Today the Sisters of Loretto continue a long and vital tradition of education by sponsoring St. Mary’s Academy and The Havern School in Denver, Loretto Academy in El Paso, and Nerinx Hall in St. Louis.

Guided by the Loretto School Values, the ethos of St. Mary’s Academy is deeply rooted in the spirituality and mission of Loretto. The intangible imprint of Loretto is interwoven into the very fabric of our school where the Loretto School Values of faith, community, justice and respect serve as a touchstone for all aspects of our community.

Every year St. Mary’s Academy provides experiences for students, teachers, and administrators to deepen the bond with Loretto and with the other schools. Since 1988 teachers have traveled each spring to the Motherhouse in Kentucky for an intensive weekend immersion in the community’s rich history and vibrant mission of today. For almost as many years, high school students from the Loretto schools spend a week of service at the Motherhouse, learn advocacy skills in El Paso and participate in a leadership conference in Denver culminating in a Loretto Leadership Statement to guide their year’s work.

As a school dedicated to educating young people to be powerful agents of change, we embrace the Constitutions of the Sisters of Loretto that encourage us to “educate others as well as ourselves to truth, beauty and the ways of peace, in the spirit of Jesus.”

SMA Historical Timeline