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Finding Community from Within: SMA Clubs and Affinity Groups

 

When asked what they love most about St. Mary’s Academy, both current and former students mention the amazing community of women that surrounds them.  They have consistently shared that regardless of their background, the middle school they attended, their academic classes or areas of interest, they are immediately welcomed into a network of friends that offers camaraderie, support and inspiration once they step foot on the campus of St. Mary’s.  One of the key elements of the SMA experience that delivers this sense of community is the myriad activities, clubs and affinity groups.

St. Mary’s official club offerings are as diverse as the student population.  Club topics range from extensions of an academic course, such as French Club, Art Club, Math Club, and Science Club, to clubs focused on areas of interest outside of academics, including Bike Club, Improv Club, Photography Club, Outdoor Club, Harry Potter Club and Fashion Club.  There are also clubs dedicated to social justice topics including, Human Rights Club, Girl Up, Women’s Equality Club, and Earth Club.  With over 35  clubs, there are opportunities for every girl to pursue her interests.

All clubs are student conceived and managed.  When the idea for a club is first considered, students draft a proposal for the Student Review Board (SRB), a group of student representatives chosen to review student issues and proposals, club proposals, and administration initiatives. The SRB acts as a liaison between the SMA students and the administration.  For club proposals, the Student Review Board provides feedback before the proposal is presented to the administration for final approval.  Proposed clubs must align with the values of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, and every club is responsible for completing an annual service project.

While clubs and activities bring together students who share interests and passions, affinity groups offer another opportunity for students with shared backgrounds and experiences to gather for dialogue, support, celebration and reflection. St. Mary's offers eight affinity groups including Women of Color in Action, Black Student Union, Jewish Student Union, First Nations, Latina Student Union, Asian/Pacific Islander Club, Immigrant Student Union and Queer Student Union.  Affinity groups play a critical role in creating an inclusive and thriving academic and social, educational and learning environment at St. Mary's Academy.

Michele Taylor, Dean of Student Leadership and Activities, shares that approximately 85% of students participate in clubs and affinity groups.  “We are thrilled that so many of our students are able to explore their passions and find connections through these activities.  Through clubs and affinity groups our students find an immediate sense of belonging at St. Mary’s Academy.”