Message from the President

Ms. Jennifer Tesoro '96

A Pulse on Learning; a Learning Beat; Embracing Embers; Walking Together

When new beginnings and fresh opportunities present themselves to us in our everyday lives, we can be reminded of the power of hope for growth. A return to familiar routines and comfortable rhythms can also instil in us a sense of grounded hope. Learning by doing, trial through trying, and miracles out of mistakes means our educational community can make space to encourage and cultivate hope-filled approaches to learning.

Knowledge exists and evolves within a myriad of multiple contexts. To engage and explore the possibilities of thought, and turn this knowledge into peaceful action through service is truly an awesome power to harness and hone. Outstanding contributions emerge from ordinary acts done with a blessing and wish for hope. Gaining the skills to turn knowledge into responsible power and meaningful action is one of the reasons we are motivated to learn here at St. Mary’s Academy.

Each person brings their own unique spark. Together, their light burns bright, to forge new pathways to achieve the SNJM mission of addressing the needs of each other and society today. This Newsletter contains some examples of how our students continue their learning journey at school. Enjoy perusing through these hopeful moments that seek to capture the day-to-day learning processes exercising young minds.

Read, relax, and rejoice with us, as we look for learning at St. Mary’s Academy.

Message from Senior Leadership Team

Mrs. Michelle Klus
Senior School Principal

Mrs. Carol-Ann Swayzie
Junior School Principal

Mr. Lorne Hess
Dean of Educational Studies

Here we are in November of 2022 and as we reflect on the Academy’s humble beginnings 153 years ago—we are truly grateful for the faith and vision of the Sisters. Much has changed in 153 years however, the Sisters vision of education in the faith remains unchanged. We are blessed to be a part of this community!

Truth and Reconciliation Week at SMA was recognized from September 26 to 30 which included the National Day for Truth and Reconciliation on Friday, September 30. Throughout the week students were engaged in many educational activities within the classroom, across all curricula which provided a greater awareness of Truth and Reconciliation. We are dedicated to infusing ongoing conversations and learning and have organized several speakers for students throughout the year. SMA acknowledges the harms and mistakes of the past, and we dedicate ourselves to move forward in partnership with Indigenous communities in a spirit of reconciliation and collaboration. We encourage all of the SMA community to honour the lost children and Survivors of residential institutions, their families and communities.

Tuesday October 11th marked the calendar change over to winter uniforms at SMA. Our students wear their uniforms with pride as it is considered a symbol of their commitment to our SMA community. As with many kinds of change, we need to work collaboratively to ensure the uniform is worn in a manner that upholds our uniform regulations.

Each year in October, Administration and faculty meet to discuss students who may be experiencing challenges academically, socially and/or behaviorally. If it is determined that an action plan is required for a student, our Student Support Team (consisting of Administration, Resource, Campus Ministry, Guidance and Academic Advisor) create an action plan to assist. This may include conversations with parents, students, Child Guidance Clinic professionals, or a referral to one of our school counselors (Ms. Sigurdson, Ms. Vivian, or Ms. Storey) or our resource specialist, Mrs. Dado, to help work through a defined challenge.

Progress Reports will go home with your daughter on November 18. Parent/Teacher/Student Conferences are scheduled for November 24 and 25. Information to schedule your conference online will be included in the Progress Report. The online conference Manager opens at 8:00 a.m. on November 19. These conferences provide an opportunity for you and your daughter to meet with teachers and I encourage you to attend. Your daughter’s education truly is a partnership between home and school.

A reminder to visit the homepage, events pages, and calendar page on SMA’s website on a regular basis, read the Bulletin in PowerSchool, as well as to please read the weekly Communique sent via email at the end of each week. These communications contain important information. Let’s keep Holding High The Torch!

Welcome to Faculty and Staff Who Joined the Academy in 2022

Mme. Bernadette Balagtas, French Teacher

Mr. Niclas Bembenek, Science Teacher

Ms. Leah Boughen ’12, Admissions and Community Outreach

Mr. Reiss Burtniak, Math Teacher

Mr. Carson Heinrichs, Maintenance

Ms. Kaylene Kessler, Advancement Manager

Ms. Shaylyn Maharaj-Poliah, ELA Teacher

Ms. Alexandra Malkiewicz ’14, Religion and Supply Teacher

Ms. Sydney Maurice ’15, ELA Teacher

Ms. Rachel Meiklejohn, Physical Education Teacher

Mrs. Patti McDougall, Physical Education Teacher

Ms. Hope Mwalugaja, Advancement Assistant & Database Administrator

Mr. Joel Sisk,
ELA Teacher

Mr. Cole Snyder,
Art Teacher

Ms. Holly Storey, Guidance Counsellor

Mr. Ryan Swayzie, Receptionist

Ms. Lara Thordarson, Human Ecology Teacher

Mr. Edward Villamar, IT Technician

Ms. Dana Vivian, Guidance Counsellor

Student Leadership Council

SMA’s Student Leadership Council is structured to recognize the importance of student clubs and groups in our school. The Student Leadership Council is made up of student executives who have been chosen to represent/co-chair our various clubs and groups, as follows:

Athletics Council

Arianna Fulcher ’23

Sophia Krak ’23


Marissa Magsino ’24

Vanessa Rama ’23

Human Rights Team

Gabrielle Denis ’23

Gael Maramot ’23

Mission & Charism

Cyan Gargol ’23

Serena Soc ’24


Elle Wood ’23

Sara Bergen ’23


Bhavika Sandhu ’23

Rebecca Viebrock ’23

Special Events

Enijola Akinyemi ’23

Roxy Porth ’24

The Spark Newspaper

Hannah Linsangan ’23

Arabella Quezon ’23


Abby Chau ’24

Kiara Vergara ’23

Mission and Charism Community

Mrs. Joanne Steeves (Weight ’90) —

Our theme for the 2022-2023 school year is “What do I believe?” Each person is filled with beliefs that have been instilled in us by our families, communities, and unique life experiences. These beliefs are often passed down for generations in the spirit of love, faith, and hope. This school year, students and staff are invited to look at what they believe and how they live out those beliefs in their lives, both at home and beyond. As we hear in Mark 9:23, “All things are possible for one who believes.”

The Mission and Charism Department is back in full routine this school year and many of our ongoing ministries have started up again. The following ministries allow students to share their gifts and talents with our community.

Breakfast Club: At Breakfast Club the motto is Faith, Friends, Food and Fun. Students from grades 7 to 12 are invited to come on their own or bring a friend, and a snack to share. The group plays games, does activities, prays, shares snacks, and talks about what is coming up for that month at SMA. Breakfast Club meets on the first Friday of each month from 7:50 AM to 8:30 AM in the Old Auditorium.

Morning Prayer: Morning Prayer began in October and takes place once a month in Holy Names Chapel at 8:10 AM. Our most recent Morning Prayer service was on November 1 in celebration of All Saints Day. All students are welcome.

Homeroom Mass: Each week a different homeroom will lead the ministries as we celebrate together with Eucharist or Morning Prayer. We honour this time together that allows us to truly embrace who we are as an SNJM school. Homeroom masses are scheduled during the school day. Parents and families are always welcome to join us in Holy Names Chapel (2nd floor of the Administration Building).

Club L.E.M.O.N. (Leaders Embarking on a Mission Over Noon): Club L.E.M.O.N is  starting this month.  This Club is led by grade 10 student leaders who meet monthly with grade 7 and 8 students to help build a sense of community and share faith. All grade 7 and 8 students are welcome to bring their lunch and share in the fun.

Service Fair: Our annual Service Fair took place on November 3. The Fair gave students an opportunity to talk to representatives from various organizations and learn about the many service learning opportunities that are available to them. We were fortunate to have the following organizations at our Service Fair: Artbeat Studio, Development and Peace, L'Arche Winnipeg, Mood Disorders Association, Pulford Community Living Services, Siloam Mission, St. Amant Centre, Swimmingly, Toba Centre for Children and Youth, and West Broadway Youth Outreach.

AMS@SMA (A Monthly Service at St. Mary’s Academy): is a monthly program that takes place after school at various organizations around the city. Our first monthly service took place at the Toba Centre for Children and Youth on October 20. We recognized and honoured the month of October as Child Abuse Awareness Month, toured the Toba Centre and created a banner for their new facility which will open in Assiniboine Park in April 2023. Toba Centre is Manitoba's only Child Advocacy Centre. They support and advocate for children and youth who have experienced abuse or witnessed violence. 

Each month we will gather to look at how we can be of service and advocate for various organizations around the city including; Villa Rosa, The Angel Squad for Misericordia Health Centre and Ronald McDonald House.

New Student Orientation

On September 7, 2022, it was our pleasure to welcome 117 new students to our community. New students began the orientation morning with a welcome in Alumnae Hall followed by meeting their teachers and classmates. SMA warmly embraces all of our new students and their families. 

Opening Mass

Our school community gathered for our first all-school Mass on September 9. Mass was presided over by Fr. Eric Zadji who presented us with a message of love and togetherness, and likened our community to a family. Referencing the gospel of Matthew 7:3, “Why do you look at the speck in your neighbour’s eye and pay no attention to the log in your own eye?”, Fr. Eric reminded us that families seek the good in each other, love rather than criticize each other, and help each other.

Keeping with tradition (and we love tradition at SMA), everyone was served ice cream after Mass.

Grade 12 Day of Reflection

On September 20, our grade 12 students spent the day together at Camp Assiniboia for SMA’s traditional retreat for graduating students. Led by our Mission and Charism Community, students had an opportunity to reflect, contemplate the year ahead, and prepare their hearts and minds for their futures. Parents and caregivers joined the retreat for the closing celebration and blessing.

Walk For Cancer

On September 20, our junior and senior students participated in separate Walks For Cancer. Junior students walked from SMA to Assiniboine Park and back to the school. Senior students met at St. Paul’s High School (SPHS) and together with SPHS students and students from Balmoral Hall, the group walked to Assiniboine Park and back to SPHS. Both our junior and senior groups participated in community building activities after their respective walks. For both walks, our students raised money for the CancerCare Manitoba Foundation.

Truth and Reconciliation Week

From September 26 to 30, SMA recognized and honoured Truth and Reconciliation Week. Throughout the week all students were engaged in educational activities within the classroom, across the curricula. Some of the learning that took place was our grade 9 students taking part in a presentation that detailed the history of death, disease and despair in Residential Schools. Our students and teachers also learned about the Métis experience, the significant impact of intergenerational trauma, and statements of apology. Grade 9 students and their teachers also walked to the former site of the Assiniboia Residential School at 615 Academy Road. The site visit included learning about the background and personal reflection time. In our Junior School, students incorporated Indigenous perspectives into the curricula as they learned about the Seven Sacred Teachings and had an opportunity to design their own orange t-shirts to honour the children.

On October 3, Brian Normand, a Metis elder presented to our grades 9 through 12 students. Elder Brian shared his lived experience at St. Charles Day Residential School with a focus on the dedicated healing journey. Elder Brian also spoke of his Métis culture and spirituality, and performed a smudge with student volunteers.

SMA is dedicated to infusing ongoing learning and conversations throughout the school year, both in the classroom and in broader group presentations.

We continue to work on our path of Truth & Reconciliation. If you would like to share ideas, please email us at

Grade 7 Bible Ritual

In October our grade 7 students each received a Catholic Youth Bible during their homeroom Bible Ritual. This ritual, taking place in Holy Names Chapel, is a special time of faith and community.

Mother Marie-Rose Week

From October 5 to 7, we celebrated Mother Marie-Rose Week with Mass, learning, and community time.

St. Mary’s Academy is one of a network of schools in North America under the direction of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary (SNJM), a teaching congregation founded in 1844 in Longueuil, Quebec, by Mother Marie-Rose Durocher. Mother Marie-Rose believed that education must be grounded in faith and centered in justice; that true learning happens in an environment where one’s potential is seen and nurtured; and that the Arts are important in education. She encouraged learning through self-expression. She took the time to dream. She believed that the future can become better than the present when it is embraced with courage and commitment. She believed that an entire society can be transformed if the minds and hearts of young women are guided and nurtured.

After six years as Superior, Mother Marie-Rose died on October 6, 1849, her 38th birthday. Her accomplishments during her short life led Pope John Paul II to beatify her on May 23, 1982, as a woman for all times.

During Mother Marie-Rose Week our students went on scavenger hunts both throughout the school to find roses with clues and on social media to “find” Mother Marie-Rose. We took time at lunch to gather in the Atrium, where budding Artists had an opportunity to create a portrait of Mother Marie-Rose, portrayed by Chloe Edie-Maxsom ‘24. On Thursday, October 6, we celebrated as a whole school community with Mass in Alumnae Hall, and students put their Mother Marie-Rose knowledge to the test with a trivia game at lunch.

Grade 9 Career Speakers

As part of our Career and Mentorship Program, grade 9 students participated in Grade 9 Career Speakers on October 13. This event seeks to spark students’ interest in thinking about a career, and introduce them to a few career options. Speakers included the following alumnae:

  • Theresa Vandeau ’98: Theresa is a lawyer who works as the Deputy District Registrar at Winnipeg Land Titles and Teranet Manitoba.
  • Meaghan Alto ’01: Meaghan is a family physician with a practice in the city of Winnipeg.
  • Amanda Burridge ’07: Amanda is a Certified Health Information Management (HIM) professional who works as the program coordinator of the HIM program at Red River College Polytechnic.

Grade 9 Welcome

On Friday, October 28, beginning in the afternoon, our grade 9 students participated in our annual Welcome Celebration. The Grade 9 Welcome provides the opportunity to enhance relationships among this diverse group of young women, and strengthen their identity as a student at SMA. Students participated in activities designed to bring them together and get better acquainted with each other. The Grade 9 Welcome is planned and hosted by the Leadership Team Clubs/Groups and Administration.

Academic Achievements from the 2021-2022 School Year

On September 16, 2022, we held our first school-wide assembly at which time SMA presented scholarships and awards. Congratulations to the following students for their exceptional achievements.

Christine Skublics Memorial Scholarships and Awards
The Christine Skublics Memorial Scholarships and Awards were established by the SMA Board of Directors in memory of Mrs. Skublics who was a teacher and then principal at SMA from 1977 until 1990. Recipients are students with the highest average in each of grades 9, 10 and 11. Congratulations to:

Grade 11
Scholarship for Highest Academic Standing: Jordyn Espenell ’23
Awards for High Academic Achievement: Vicky Nguyen ’23, and Haley Siegmund ’23

Grade 10
Scholarship for Highest Academic Standing:
Khushleen Dhaliwal ’24
Awards for High Academic Achievement: Sophie Halayko ’24, Alina Koskie ’24, and Meghan Lagadi ’24

Grade 9
Scholarship for Highest Academic Standing:
Chinanuokum Onyiuke ‘25
Awards for High Academic Achievement: Sabrina Batla ‘25 and Jiyoo Noh ’25

Bob Ritchie Scholarship
The Bob Ritchie Scholarship, established by the Ritchie Family, recognizes academic achievement and outstanding involvement in student life at SMA. The award winner must be on the honour roll, in grade 11 and returning to SMA for grade 12. Congratulations to recipient, Elle Wood ’23

Tesoro Family Servant Leader Award
Established this year, the Tesoro Family Servant Leader Award recognizes and fosters the formation and growth of SMA students in the areas of service, accountability, responsibility, and support of others. Recipients are students who are actively engaged in their faith and extended communities, instinctively lend a helping hand, and aspire to be role models for their classmates and fellow students. Congratulations to:
Grade 12
Anisha Khokhar ’22

Grade 11
Adra Barnet ‘23

Grade 10
Noor Sohi ‘24

Congratulations to all recipients for Holding High the Torch!

From the Drama Department

Ms. Laura Davey ’05 —

Our Grades 7, 9, 10, 11 & 12 students are working hard this fall on many different units and styles of theatre. So far, we have worked on monologues, tableaux, play studies, scene work, performance production, theatrical genres, adaptations and more! As an ensemble project, public drama productions take place throughout the year, to maximize rehearsal and stage time for all students, at all grade levels: Grade 9 students work on scenes from The Diary of Anne Frank, which will take place in January, Grade 10s will work on a murder mystery play for April and our senior Drama students will produce a full-length play entirely on their own in May. Times will be announced in the new year. Parents of students in Grades 9 & 10 are invited to their performances during the school day, and the Senior Drama class will have a public evening performance open to all. We are so excited about the dedication and commitment of our drama students to their learning and education.

Disney's Beauty and the Beast

In 2023, SMA’s dramatic arts performance, Beauty and the Beast, hits Alumnae Hall March 16 and 17 at 7:00 PM, and March 18 at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $20 each and will go on sale February 1. 

Tartan Technology and Innovation Centre

Allie Logan ’06, Tartan Technology and Innovation Centre Coordinator —
Edward Villamar, IT Technician —


The Tartan Technology & Innovation Centre (The Tech Centre) officially opened its doors on September 8th. Guided by Ms. Allie Logan ’06, Mr. Vincent Ocampo and Mr. Edward Villamar, students broaden their creative skills, form new relationships and challenge themselves to find ways to give back to their community.

Students are busy exploring everything available in the Tech Centre. Some learned how to use 3D printers, making items for personal use or to give as gifts. Other students discovered how to use the Cricut machine to design and create stickers for decoration. Meanwhile, everyone enjoys the Nintendo Switch, VR headsets, and PC’s as an outlet to unwind. The Gaming Club also uses the space every Friday, to encourage students to form friendships through playing tabletop or video games. 

For the extra curious, there are two different learning paths: Individual Exploration and S.M.A.R.T. Design Labs. Individual Exploration has students delve into any technology of their choosing, document their creative process and possibly present their final project during a showcase in April. S.M.A.R.T. Design Labs challenges students to create something that can assist the SMA community. Students can select from a variety of tasks on a Quest Board that they feel confident in completing. For example, a task could be to create an invitation for a local event or to design promotional stickers for a small business.

At Homecoming, a group of current students were eager to help show off the Tech Centre to our Alumnae. Arianna ’23 and Arabella Quezon ’23 encouraged visitors to play Just Dance. Lilian Rusak ’28 and Chloe Render ’28 handed out SMA stickers and explained how they were made with the Cricut machine. Visiting Alumnae were impressed, exclaiming “I wish I had this when I was in school!”

We look forward to seeing what these creators and innovators will make this year!

Debate Club

Mr. Rob McCaffrey —

This year, as things return to normal for all of the clubs at SMA, the Debate Club is happy to share many of the new and exciting things happening in our club. Over the last couple of years, our debaters have grown used to online tournaments, but this year we have returned to in-person tournaments in all types of debate and public speaking. We will be competing in Canadian parliamentary, British parliamentary, and cross examination debates. And for our junior debaters, the senior team will be happy to help judge in their competitions. Finally, and possibly most excitingly, SMA is hoping to host our very own in-person tournament, our first one in a while, called the Marian Cup. It will be a junior debate tournament, and the senior team will be assisting in organizing and judging the juniors. We look forward to an exciting year for our club which you can keep an eye on on Instagram.


Our Flames Golf Team captured a second consecutive Manitoba High School Athletics Association provincial championship at the Carman Golf Club on September 23. Huge congratulations to team members Elle Wood ’23, Addison Kartusch ’24, Madison Karpowicz ’25 and Emma Keryluk ’23, and coach, Mr. James Villa. Way to Hold High the Torch!

Cross Country

Congratulations to the Flames senior high Cross Country team for winning the school’s 12th provincial championship in the sport. The team ran very well, receiving a team score of 18 points (3 points off of a perfect score). On October 12, in very frigid conditions in Killarney, Manitoba, the team embraced the weather and kept their positive energy throughout the competition. All 14 runners contributed to the victory. A special congrats to our graduating champions; Adra Barnet, Gabi Denis, Arianna Fulcher and Elle Wood. Their positive attitude helped with all the training and made everyone perform and excel to their highest level. Thank you to Coach Rauno Ruus for putting in the time and all his efforts in helping us pursue excellence. Also, thank you to the parents for helping getting the student athletes to those early morning practices and to the conference meets at LaBarriere Park. The program would not have achieved any success without your support. We are already preparing for next year, if any students are interested in participating in Cross Country next season, please see Mr. Danyluk. Indoor Track and Field has started up again, any students interested are asked to please see Mr. Danyluk.

Department Spotlight: Student Services

Department Members

Mrs. Dana Sigurdson: Guidance Counsellor

Ms. Holly Storey: Guidance Counsellor

Ms. Dana Vivian: Guidance Counsellor

Mrs. Christine Dado: Resource Teacher

Ms. Adriane McElrea: Career and Academic Advisor

Mrs. Patti LeBlanc: Educational Assistant

Our Student Services Department operates from a team perspective including students, parents, teachers, school counsellor(s), resource teacher(s), career and academic advisor(s), Mission and Charism coordinator(s), educational assistant(s), and school administrators within the framework of the school’s mission statement and Catholic teachings. 

Members of the student services department assist students with academic, personal, social, and emotional development through school wide, grade level, small group, and individual interventions and support. 

The guidance and counselling department provides whole school, grade level, small group, and individual guidance education and counselling services including: 

  • Personal counselling by appointment or drop-in
  • Social Media and Online Safety Presentations
  • Substance Use Awareness Presentations
  • Career and Mentorship programs for students in senior school
  • Post-secondary education information

The Resource teacher helps students at the school have a successful academic experience. At the beginning of the year, the Resource teacher conducts a study skills evening for the community. Ongoing support is provided for all grade levels through small group and individual study skills sessions. Topics include: 

  • Organization and time management
  • Learning strategies
  • Preparing for tests, mid-year assessments and exams
  • Managing test anxiety
  • Healthy choices and balance
  • Identifying learning strengths and challenges

Peer Support Team

The Peer Support team consists of grades 10 to 12 students who have attended training. Peer Support Team members provide students with assistance, education, information, and support in the social and emotional challenges faced by students. The Team contributes to the well-being and healthy development of body, mind, and spirit, by involving our students in classroom presentations, school wide speaker presentations, and educational campaigns and events throughout the year.  

Peer Tutors

For the past several years, SMA has run a successful peer tutoring program. An older student is matched with a younger student who wants extra help. Peer tutors are paid by the parents of their clients. People who are interested in finding out more or arranging for a Peer Tutor may contact Mrs. Christine Dado at

International Day

The Parents’ Guild was delighted to host International Day on Sunday, October 23. Warm thanks are extended to everyone who attended. It was a joy to have our community come together and celebrate our diversity with faith, food, and fun.

Many volunteers came together in a spirit of kinship to put on Mass, Pavilions, Entertainment, Wine Basket and Jewelry/gift card Raffles, a 50/50 Draw, and stock the Corner Store with new merchandise. Hundreds of volunteers gave selflessly so that people could enjoy the cultural diversity of our community. Heartfelt appreciation is extended to everyone who helped in every way. Thank you!

A special thank you is extended to our remarkable Parents’ Guild who worked selflessly and tirelessly to make International Day a reality. Thank you to each member of the Guild who helped with an extra special thank you to Mara Le Clair, International Day Convenor, and each member of the International Day Committee. Thank you. Our community burns brighter and more beautiful because of each of you.

Upcoming Dates to Note

December Celebration & Tea

Sunday, December 4
Celebrating the Feast of the Immaculate Conception
Mass at 11:00 AM in Alumnae Hall | Following Mass light refreshments will be served
Gifts of non-perishable food items, new hats, mitts, and scarves or monetary gifts are accepted for Rossbrook House
All are welcome | Hosted by the SMA Alumnae Association

Open House

Tuesday, January 17, 2023, at 7:00 PM
Our Open House begins with short presentations in Alumnae Hall, followed by an opportunity for guests to tour our campus and speak with students, faculty, and staff. Everyone who is interested in finding out more about an Academy education is welcome to attend. Please share this event with people in your network. Should anyone have questions about our Open House or our new student admissions process, please contact Ms. Leah Boughen ’12 at or 204-478-6030.