Traditions

Life at SMH

Established in 1879, Saint Mary’s Hall is a school deeply rooted in tradition.  Founded on the principles of knowledge, self-confidence, and respect for others, these principles are evident in the perennial activities and rites of passage that occur on campus every year.  Blue Tie Ceremony, Bishops’ Day, Grand Day at Saint Mary’s Hall, and Commencement, are only a modicum of the memorable traditions unique to our school.

Our traditions are the unique rituals and customs that unify the school community. As the years pass, through observance and repetition, these traditions recall our common history, enrich the events of the present, and guide us into the future. 

A Culture of Traditions: Motto
A Culture of Traditions: Motto

The Saint Mary's Hall motto, Teach Us Delight In Simple Things, first appeared on the French Place Campus in the 1920s where it was set in bronze lettering in the stone steps of the school building.

When Saint Mary’s Hall moved to the Starcrest Campus in November of 1968, the bronze lettering was moved from the French Place Campus to its current home on the steps of the Administration Building.

The Baron
A Culture of Traditions: Mascot

School Colors: The Saint Mary’s Hall school colors are purple, white, and black.

School Mascot: The Baron 

Saint Mary's Hall was "mascot-less" from 1879 until 1970. During the 1970-1971 school year, references indicate that we were called the Saint Mary's Hall Bobcats. Over the years, other mascots have come and gone including Snoopy from the Peanuts cartoon.

In 2009, a committee of students from the Upper and Middle School was formed to determine and define the SMH Baron, and what he embodied to current students. Today's Baron is a warrior that is symbolic of the inner toughness, grit, and determination of our students.

Uniforms
A Culture of Traditions: Uniforms

Saint Mary’s Hall has a rich tradition of wearing uniforms. 

  • Girls: White middy, a tie, a skirt (white for dress uniform and black at other times), socks, and saddle oxfords.
  • Boys: Black blazers, ties or bowties, and khaki slacks for dress uniform and khakis and plain white “polos” at other times. Shoes are black dress shoes that must have a heel and the ability to be polished.
Ties
A Culture of Traditions: Ties

With school uniforms, the school also awards “ties” to different students participating in school organizations or designating him or her as a senior.

  • Purple Tie: Standard and Dress Uniform
  • Upper School
    • Blue Tie - Senior
    • Red Tie - Student Council
    • Yellow Tie - Sports Council
    • White Tie - Fine Arts Council
    • Maroon Tie - Honor Council
    • Green Tie - Community Service Council
  • Middle School
    • Maroon Tie - Student Senate
    • Green Tie - Sports Council – Bennetts
    • Orange Tie - Sports Council – Baileys
    • Teal Tie - Community Service Council
Spirit Teams
A Culture of Traditions: Spirit Teams

Capers or Elliot?  Upper School is divided into two “houses” that compete periodically throughout the year to claim the Bishops’ Cup … one of the time-honored traditions that make Saint Mary’s Hall a rich experience. In the fall of 1925, Headmistress Ruth Coit organized an athletic association in the Upper School, and two intramural teams were formed: Elliott and Capers, named in honor former bishops, William Theodotus Capers and Robert W.B. Elliot of the Episcopal Church, the teams for Upper School are known as Capers (yellow) and Elliot (blue).  The two Episcopal Bishops who were instrumental to the founding and modern re-organization of Saint Mary’s Hall. Teams are typically chosen during the first week of school, and students remain on their team throughout his or her time in the Upper School. 

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Spirit Teams
A Culture of Traditions: Spirit Teams

Today’s Capers and Elliot team captains are still elected by the Upper School student body and compete throughout the year, including at the annual Bishops’ Day.

Middle School students are sorted into houses named after two other Episcopal Bishops: Bennett & Bailey.  The Bennett’s and Bailey’s compete against each other all year long in different types of competition.  While Lower School students are stored into Purple and White teams. 

A Culture of Traditions: Blue Tie Ceremony
A Culture of Traditions: Blue Tie Ceremony

The first Blue Tie Ceremony was held in September of 1940, when blue ties were first awarded to the Class of 1941. Today, the head of school bestows the blue ties and senior rings; however, family members who are SMH graduates, faculty, staff, or trustees are given the honor of presenting a blue tie to their senior.  As a rite of passage, the new seniors accept the responsibility given to them to serve as leaders of the school and as role models for underclassmen. 

In recent years, the Blue Tie Parade was added.  The senior celebration kicks off with the Blue Tie Parade as seniors drive their creatively decorated cars around the SMH Upper School Circle.  Students excitedly line the parade route, hoping to be drenched by water balloons, while the adults—faculty, administrators, and family—try their best to hide.

A Culture of Traditions: Bishops’ Day
A Culture of Traditions: Bishops’ Day

Bishops' Day, held annually since 1930, is a celebration of intramural activity. Held in the spring, each division hosts its own version of the traditional Upper School Bishops' Day. Named after former bishops of the Episcopal Church, the teams for Upper School are known as Elliott (blue) and Capers (yellow), while the Middle School teams are called Bennetts (green) and Baileys (orange). In Lower School, teams are separated into purple and white. Held annually in the spring since 1930, the day features a variety of outrageous and athletic events such as 3-on-3 basketball, Tug-O-War, and a chalk art contest. The coveted Bishops’ Cup is awarded to a team with the most points accumulated over the year. 

A Culture of Traditions: Grand Day at Saint Mary’s Hall
A Culture of Traditions: Grand Day at Saint Mary’s Hall

Saint Mary’s Hall grandparents play a valuable role in their grandchildren’s lives, and SMH values the grandparents of the school’s students. Every spring, SMH hosts Grand Day at Saint Mary's Hall to honor students’ grandparents. First held in 1981, on this special day, students, grandparents, and grand friends enjoy breakfast together, take a professional keepsake photo, and visit classrooms … all as a way to experience a day in the life of a Saint Mary’s Hall student.

A Culture of Traditions: College Shirt Day
A Culture of Traditions: College Shirt Day

Ever year in May, Saint Mary’s Hall seniors reveal their college choices.  In what has become known as College Shirt Day, members of the graduating class, proudly wear shirts and sweaters of the college they will attend in the fall.  It is an exciting day, as it means our seniors are one step closer to graduating and heading off to college campuses all across the country!

A Culture of Traditions: Commencement (Graduation)
A Culture of Traditions: Commencement (Graduation)

The educational journey of SMH students culminates with Commencement. At Commencement, faculty, family, and friends gather in the Alfonso Ancira Event Center to celebrate graduating seniors. All faculty attend in academic regalia in support of the soon to be graduates. In a tradition dating back nearly 137 years, senior girls wear formal white gowns and carry 12 red roses, while senior boys wear tuxedos.

Spanning nearly 150 years, a school such as ours has rich and vibrant traditions that ever bind our school together and leave a remarkable legacy.  

Fiesta
A Culture of Traditions: Fiesta (All-School Carnival)

Fiesta, our annual all-school fall festival, was first held in the 1940s. The event was originally held as a fundraiser, and the booths at the early Fiestas were created and run by students, representing a variety of school clubs. Today, Fiesta is a “fun-raiser,” for more than 1,000 members of our community.

Time-Honored Traditions: Founders’ Day Award
A Culture of Traditions: Founders’ Day Award

Founders’ Day and the Founders Day Award is a special event unique to Saint Mary’s Hall, in which the school annually celebrates a person or family whose faith, vision, and determination have made a lasting impact on the school. Introduced in 1998, the Founders’ Day Award is the highest honor given to the school’s benefactors, and is presented at the Founders’ Day event.