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.

The History of St. Mary's Academy

When 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 to Denver from their home in Santa Fe, New Mexico, 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, and “tolerance and respect for diversity, and a commitment to justice”.

St. Mary’s Academy conferred the first diploma in the Colorado Territory to Jessie Forshee in 1875, a year before statehood. Since those early days, the founding values and ethos of spirituality and mission continue in our Loretto School Values where faith, justice, community, and respect serve as touchstones for all aspects of school life.

St. Mary’s Academy is one of four schools continuing Loretto’s long and vital tradition of education begun by the first sisters in Kentucky in 1812, joining Havern School in Denver, Loretto Academy in El Paso, and Nerinx Hall in St. Louis. They honor their historic roots while addressing the needs of 21st century learners. Every year St. Mary’s Academy provides experiences for students, teachers, and administrators to deepen the bond with Loretto and with these 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. Likewise, high school students from the Loretto schools spend a week of service at the Motherhouse, learning advocacy skills in El Paso, and participating in a leadership conference in Denver that culminates 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 this commitment of the Sisters of Loretto that encourages us to “educate others as well as ourselves to truth, beauty and the ways of peace, in the spirit of Jesus".

SMA Historical Timeline