Message from the President

Ms. Jennifer Tesoro '96

“Let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to our God who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

At St. Mary’s Academy, our students continue to shine their light. Such stories are captured as a few highlights of the abounding actions and experiences in which our students and teachers engage during every learning day. There are so many more activities and projects to showcase, which is a true testament to the wonderment of learning that transforms knowledge into action here at St. Mary’s Academy. I pray this newsletter brings you and your families and communities feelings of hope, inspiration, and confidence, to know our future is filled with promise in the stewardship of such bright minds, care-giving hands, and passionate hearts. 

Together, through their individual charism and talents, our students form a strong collective in their sincere and faith-filled efforts to make a positive difference in our world. They work to identify and recognise the needs of our society. They are learning to lead, crafting to create, and innovating to inspire.

“As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.” 1 Peter 4:10

This Spring, it brings us joy to share snapshots of our experiences with you, as we thank our Creator God for the cherished gift of learning with young people.

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

As we reach the end of our Easter season and celebrate Pentecost, we are reminded of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit; gifts that are meant to be shared for the benefit of others and to build community. How blessed we are to be a part of the SMA community and see the gifts of our students and our staff and then to witness those gifts shared with others.

It is hard to believe we are approaching the end of another school year. Our students are fully immersed in their courses, with final exams and projects on the horizon. As we watch our graduates shift their focus to their upcoming post-secondary paths, we are ready to greet the newest members of the SMA community at our Welcome to SMA event. Indeed, a full circle of our students’ journeys in action!

As we plan for the next school year, we are pleased to announce that we are introducing a Bring Your Own Device policy, beginning with our grade 7 and 8 students. Each year, we will be expanding the program through the senior grades, allowing us to enhance the learning and teaching environment in more innovative ways while incorporating digital technology with intention and guidance.

We appreciate your ongoing support and involvement in your daughter’s education and your commitment to the SMA community. How fortunate we all are to walk with one another.

Bring Your Own Device

In our technologically advanced world, integrating technology into the classroom is vital for students to develop digital literacy skills and adapt to the ever-changing digital landscape. Recognizing this importance, SMA is implementing a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy starting September 2023 for grades 7 and 8, with future integration across all grade levels. This policy empowers students to use their own laptops or tablets which will enhance their learning experience and promote interactive and collaborative learning. By embracing BYOD, we aim to foster a more dynamic and engaging educational environment, equipping students with the necessary skills to thrive in the digital age.

Kendra Lê, English Language Arts and Social Studies teacher, emphasizes the significance of BYOD, stating, “Having students bring in their own devices will allow them to interact with, and navigate, different Learning Management Systems such as Microsoft Teams and OneDrive daily. This will build the student’s comfort level with technology by learning to store and access documents in the cloud. In addition, it will promote greater participation in the classroom with the ability for anonymous polling and the sharing of documents. The learning will also become student-driven with more opportunities to collaborate. Students can create and design projects using web-based sites such as Minecraft, Twine, and ThingLink and other sites like Edpuzzle, Actively Learn, and Nearpod. This will greatly enhance the classroom experience and scaffold learning for students.”

Nicole McGlenen, Science and Social Studies teacher concurs, “Integrating technology within the classroom will enhance the student’s ability to work creatively and collaboratively in engaging and immersive learning environments. Technology in our classrooms allows for hands on cross curricular learning activities while teaching students safe technology use.”

Two grade 7 students, Chloe Render and Vivenne Siwak, who will be immersed in BYOD in their grade 8 year, express their positive views on this advancement. Chloe states, “I really prefer online work than paper copy because it helps me stay more focused and organized. Also, I think it will really help save the number of trees we are wasting.” Vivenne adds, “I like doing online work more than paper work because its very efficient, you can take the work anywhere and you can do it anywhere, it’s easier to keep track of everything, and it makes it easier to review and study.”

No software needs to be purchased as access to the full suite of Microsoft Office 365 apps will be provided by the school using the students' school Microsoft Office 365 account.

In September, teachers will communicate guidelines and policies to grade 7 and 8 students regarding the use of devices in the classroom to ensure they are being used for educational purposes. SMA will provide training to students to ensure that devices are used effectively to enhance the learning experience. SMA’s Information Technology department will be available to provide advice or assistance on any technology issue related to BYOD onboarding, such as Wi-Fi connectivity and Office 365 accounts. However, the IT department will not be responsible for troubleshooting or repairing hardware issues.

SMA is thrilled to embrace BYOD. Integrating technology into the classroom opens endless possibilities for engaging and collaborative learning experiences. With students using their own devices, we are empowering them to enhance their digital skills and thrive in the digital age. We are eager to embark on this digitally infused educational journey with our students.

Junior Extended Service Experience

Mrs. Joanne Steeves ’90 and Ms. Taylor Martin ’14 —

SMA’s Mission and Charism team is excited to finally be able to host our Junior Extended Service Experience (JESE). This program was originally scheduled to take place in June of 2020, and was cancelled due to the pandemic. The inaugural JESE experience will take place from June 20 to 23, 2023. JESE is an extended local justice immersion and education experience. The experience is based out of SMA with adult leaders and senior high students accompanying small groups to various service sites. We have 27 grades 7 and 8 students participating. Students participate at service sites during the day and have most meals and sleep at SMA. Service sites include St. Amant, Artbeat Studio, Convalescent Home, Rossbrook House and Riverview Health Centre. We are so excited to serve our local community with these junior students.

Asian Heritage Month: Celebrating Asian Cultures and Empowering Students

May was Asian Heritage Month, and it was a month of vibrant celebration. A dedicated group of Asian students came together to form a committee with the aim of educating and honoring their diverse heritage throughout the entire month. Their efforts were met with enthusiasm and participation from the community.

The committee organized a series of engaging activities that aimed to shed light on various aspects of Asian culture and promote understanding. Activities included a Kahoot focused on representation, interactive activities to teach about colourism in the beauty industry, screening of short films, a talent show where Asian students showcased their excellence in the arts, a spicy noodle challenge where teachers competed to test their spice tolerance, and a buffet with a variety of Asian meals.

Recognizing the importance of providing an open and inclusive space for Asian students, the committee hosted Talking Space events. These intimate gatherings centered around specific topics that directly resonated with the experiences of Asian students. The conversations provided a unique opportunity for students to share their personal journeys, connect with others, and foster a sense of belonging within the SMA community.

An essential objective of Asian Heritage Month was to foster cross-cultural understanding and dispel misconceptions. The committee educated non-Asian students about the distinctions between healthy and toxic representation and appreciation versus appropriation of Asian cultures.

Reflecting on the month-long celebration, the committee expressed their satisfaction and pride in the impact they made. The activities and educational initiatives proved to be nothing short of empowering, enabling students to embrace their heritage, connect with others, and foster a stronger sense of cultural unity within the school community.

Grade 11 Science Student Winning Awards on Local and National Stage

Grade 11 student Marissa Magsino competed in the Manitoba Schools Science Symposium on April 22, 2023, presenting her research project which she has been passionately adding more complex levels for the past four years. This year’s focus is on the manipulation of Tenebrio molitor (mealworms) using varying concentrations of chemical compounds to maximize the biodegradation of polystyrene. Her findings revealed that specific levels of toxic compounds resulted in an increased styrofoam consumption rate by mealworms, due to their instinctive behaviour for survival and reproduction, as they can sense the toxic chemicals in their environment and identify it as a threat. 

Marissa's exceptional work was recognized with six awards, including a Gold Medal award in the Senior Level category, as well as special awards from Mid-Canada AOAC (Association of Official Analytical Collaboration), Engineer and Geoscientists of Manitoba, Wise Kid-Netic Energy, and Sanofi Biogenius. Moreover, Marissa was honoured with the Grand Award for Best Overall Project in the Senior level category, a remarkable achievement.

As a Grand Award winner, Marissa represented Manitoba in person at the Canada-Wide Science Fair from May 13 to 20, 2023 in Edmonton, Alberta. Marissa was awarded a Silver Medal in the Senior Level and a Special Award, the Sanofi Biogenius Canada Award (senior level) which came with a cash prize.

Marissa emphasizes her appreciation, stating, “This was an amazing opportunity to be able to learn from so many other passionate young scientists. Once again, my sincere and deep gratitude to Dr. Levin from the University of Manitoba and Mrs. Falconer for their immense support and guidance over the past six months with my research.”

The Canada-Wide Science Fair is the largest science fair in our nation, and Marissa's participation is a testament to her exceptional abilities and dedication to scientific inquiry.

Additionally, this year Marissa gained a seat on the provincial Youth Advisory Council (YAC), a government subcommittee focussing on the Made-in-Manitoba Climate and Green Plan. Marissa’s successful application into this council of 11 members, ages 16 to 28, from seven communities across the province was acknowledged in a formal letter from the Honorable Minister Kevin Klein which outlined Marissa’s one year term to “play the essential role of providing unique and valuable youth perspectives on environmental and climate issues.” The YAC with Minister Klein is committed to working with various stakeholders and community leaders to “work together to ensure the continued health of our natural environment for generations to come.”

Bison Regional Science Fair

On April 25, 2023, three of our students and STEM Club members participated in the Bison Regional Science Fair. Grade 8 student Anna Das won gold in the 8th grade Biology category for her project on the impact of mold on food. Grade 10 student Jiyoo Noh won silver for her project on collecting space junk and first place for a Technology project. Finally, grade 10 student Eleni Ginakes won silver for her project on the impacts of concrete on soil. 

Grade 11 and Grade 2 Classes Collaborate

Early in May we had an amazing collaboration between Mr. Villa's grade 11 Physics class and Mrs. Ouimet’s grade 2 Science class from St. Ignatius School. The grade 2 students are studying motion and created vehicles out of recycled materials, while Mr. Villa's class has been studying a variety of topics about motion. The students experimented by sending the vehicles down ramps covered with different materials to see the effects of friction on motion. The older and younger students alike had a blast learning.

Concours d'art oratoire

A contingent of our students who study the French language participated in the Concours d'art oratoire, held at the Université de Saint-Boniface on May 6, 2023. The Concours d'art oratoire is Canada's largest annual French public-speaking competition. This event provides a valuable experience which builds useful life skills at many levels and it complements Manitoba curricula.

First Prize
Sophia Perrotti: French Communication and Culture, Grades 7/8

Jiyoo Noh: Late Immersion, Grades 9/10

Gabrielle Denis: French Communication & Culture (Extended/Enriched/Advanced), Grades 11/12

Abigail Chau: Late Immersion, Grades 11/12

Second Prize
Annik Allard: Français, Grades 7/8

Chinanuokum Onyiuke: French Communication and Culture, Grades 9/10

Third Prize
Hillary Agbodan: Français, Grades 9/10

Divisional winners were Emma De Luna and Emma Druwé Szklarczuk, and Gabrielle Denis also won the Franco-Manitobain Society prize.

Teachers guiding and inspiring these students are Mme Chantelle Deslauriers, Mlle Bernadette Balagtas, and Mme Marie Desaulniers.


From the Drama Department

Ms. Laura Davey ’05 —

This has been a busy spring at SMA! Our Grade 7 students finished up scenes from Anne of Green Gables and are working on individual speeches and microphone use. Also, we were blessed to have an alumna guest presenter, Rhea Rodych-Rasidescu ’16 presenting to our Grade 7 students about puppetry. Our Grade 9 students are hard at work prepping scenes from The Diary of Anne Frank for their presentation to Grades 7 to 9 students and families of performers on June 1st. Our Grade 10s successfully performed their murder mystery spoof UnMurdered! by Edith Weiss on April 20, to the delight and roar of the audience and have been working on their last unit, Musical Theatre. And finally, our Grade 11/12 students thrilled audiences with their final production, The One-Act Play That Goes Wrong by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields (presented with special permission from Dramatists Play Service). This is a story of a group of amateur theatre makers putting on a murder mystery when everything going awry in their performance. Our students have been working so hard all year learning about all aspects of theatre – from set & costume design, directing, and prop creation, to business, marketing and social media management. Thank you for your support of our program this year!

Rhea Rodych-Rasidescu ’16, alumna guest presenter

Grade 10 students performing “UnMurdered!” by Edith Weiss

Grade 11 & 12 students performing "The One-Act Play That Goes Wrong" by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields

Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

Ms. Laura Davey ’05 —

This year, over 140 students were involved in the creation of the first school-wide drama production at SMA since the pandemic. These students, along with faculty, staff, parents, alumnae and volunteers, presented the show in March to four excited audiences who were ready to come home to SMA and experience live theatre in Alumnae Hall again. We had guests from all over Canada attend, including alumnae and friends from SMA over the decades. Our students worked so hard, some individually putting in over 100 hours of rehearsal and planning time, to bring this story to life.  And did they ever succeed! Audiences laughed, cried and clapped along to the antics of the castle creatures, villagers and villain Gaston, as Belle and the Beast fell in love and realized what beauty truly means. Congratulations to all who were involved in the production from the painters and builders to the bakers and ushers and the tech crew, actors, costumers, stage management, PR, hair and makeup, stage crew and musicians for your hard work, professionalism, creativity and spirit. It was an honour to work alongside each and every one of you! We look forward to welcoming audiences back to SMA for another school-wide production in the fall of 2024.

Spring Concert

On May 1, 2023, Con Fuoco held their Spring Concert, the first since 2019. Their performance of heartfelt and energetic pieces such as “I am in Need of Music” by David L. Brunner, “Gently” by Brian Tate, and “Java Jive” by Milton Drake was truly outstanding. Close to 50 audience members thoroughly enjoyed the beautiful music under the direction of Ms. Anastasia Geras, Choir Director. A silver collection provided support to the Rossbrook House Music Program.


Mr. Cole Snyder —

Our Art students have been working hard on projects in a variety of mediums. Students have explored acrylic, watercolour, ink, photography, collage, digital art, printmaking, pastel and more. They’ve made zines, designed stickers (with help from the Tech Lab), painted landscapes, explored perspective, parodied famous art, and made stop-motion videos. Many students tried out the pottery wheel for the first time too. 

Grade 9 to 12 students had fun making their own ceramic reliquaries, where they were challenged to make their own version of a relic and container to house it. This ‘relic’ had to be an item with either personal, historical, or cultural value and its container had to have a connection to the relic too. Pictured are a few examples of the creative pieces they came up with.


Marie Graham '25  

Miley Carino '26

Bella Pelagio '23

Debate Club

Mr. Rob McCaffrey and Ms. Taylor Martin ’14  —

As we wrap up the 2022/2023 school year, the SMA Senior and Junior Debate Clubs are proud to have finished an impressive year of debating. 

In April, we hosted our first debate tournament, The St. Mary's Academy Junior Invitational Impromptu Debate Tournament. This tournament was the first since the pandemic and thanks to our coaches and volunteers, it went extremely well. Our junior and senior teams performed excellently at their provincial debate tournaments and both a junior and senior team qualified to represent SMA at their respective national tournaments in May. At the Senior Douglas Campbell Public Speaking Tournament, both SMA speakers placed in the top two spots in their categories.

The SMA debate courses are also coming to a close, and the Intermediate and Advanced students have had a great year of learning and advancing in many new styles of debating and public speaking.

Thanks to our coaches, captains, and executive teams, this year could not have been better for the debate club, and we are looking forward to the next year of debating in 2023/2024.


Tartan Technology and Innovation Centre

Ms. Allie Logan ’06 —

It was an incredible first year for the Tartan Technology and Innovation Centre. This new space is sparking imagination and collaboration. Two such stories are highlighted below.

Grade 10 student Jiyoo Noh came to the Tech Centre to inquire about using the 3D printers to build models for her science fair project. She was focused on finding alternative ways of removing space junk from earth’s orbit, so she came up with a solution that utilizes a docking station connected to multiple satellites using electromagnetics. Jiyoo created a proof-of-concept using the 3D printers located in the Tech Centre to print a model of her solution. One challenge she ran into was figuring out the dimensions of her prototype, but with some assistance from Mr. Villamar, Jiyoo was able to calculate and adjust the size of the prototype to effectively demonstrate her solution. Jiyoo’s hard work and innovative thinking paid off when she took home a silver medal at the Bison Regional Science Fair in April!

Ms. Friess turned the Tech Centre into a virtual playground for her Grade 10 Social Studies class. Students used the Meta Quest 2 virtual reality (VR) headsets and explored one of four apps that would give each student a unique experience in different environments. The students learned the basics of VR using physics-based tasks and games, simulated swimming in the open ocean alongside marine wildlife, wandered through different countries they dream of visiting some day, and also tried their hand at being a wildlife photographer for National Geographic.

On behalf of Mr. Villamar, Mr. Ocampo and myself, I extend a heartfelt thank you to the students, staff and parents for making our first year a success! Your patience, input and smiles have helped us navigate this first year together. We look forward to welcoming people in the Tech Centre this September!

Celebrating the Class of 2023

On May 26, 2023, SMA was delighted to host Mass and Brunch in celebration of the Class of 2023 and their families. Father Mark Tarrant presided over a beautiful Mass, and afterward, guests enjoyed a lovely brunch at the Viscount Gort hotel. To top it off, the Class of 2023 was inducted into the SMA Alumnae Association, and Gabrielle Denis was named Miss Congeniality.

Celebrations on the horizon for the Class of 2023 include Graduation Dinner and Dance at the Convention Centre on June 16, 2023, and Convocation takes place on June 28, 2023.

Loran Teachers Building Leaders Award

left to right: Mrs. Dana Sigurdson, Bethany Kolisniak ’19, Mrs. Carol-Ann Swayzie

In 2019, Bethany Kolisniak ’19 was a grade 12 student who consistently demonstrated remarkable dedication to Human Rights, resulting in her prestigious recognition as a Loran Scholar. Each year, the Loran Scholars Foundation carefully selects the top 0.7% of over 5,000 exceptional young individuals across Canada to receive the Loran Scholarship, a distinction bestowed upon them due to their exemplary character, commitment to community service, and potential for leadership. As Loran Scholars, these accomplished individuals are awarded a four-year scholarship, complete with invaluable mentorship and participation in a summer internship program.

As part of their Loran Scholar experience, each recipient is given the opportunity to acknowledge educators who played an instrumental role in their personal growth, academic development, and overall success. Among the remarkable educators at SMA, Bethany chose to honour Mrs. Carol-Ann Swayzie, Junior School Principal, and Mrs. Dana Sigurdson, Guidance Counsellor. On May 25, 2023, Bethany visited SMA to present the Loran Teachers Building Leaders Awards to these esteemed individuals. During her poignant speech, Bethany emphasized, "Words fail to capture the profound impact that Mrs. Swayzie and Mrs. Sigurdson have had on my life. They have been invaluable mentors, consistently providing unwavering support and encouraging me to embrace meaningful risks, a core principle espoused by the Loran Scholars Foundation."

Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies at UBC Okanagan, Bethany aspires to attend law school in the future, driven by her commitment to effect positive change.

The Loran Teachers Building Leaders Award, initiated in 2015, is presented by the Loran Scholars Foundation, which offers the most substantial and comprehensive four-year undergraduate scholarship in the country. With an estimated value of $100,000, this award is granted to promising young Canadians based on their outstanding character, dedicated service, and potential for leadership. The Loran Teachers Building Leaders Award is co-sponsored by the McCall MacBain Foundation.


Congratulations to the Flames Rugby team for capturing the city championship on May 27! Good luck to the Flames on June 2nd and 3rd as compete in the Provincial Championships.

Tuition Payments

For families who chose Plan C for 2023-2024 tuition payments, please remember that your first monthly payment will be withdrawn from your account on or after July 1, 2023.

For families who chose Plan A or Plan B, your next payment will be withdrawn on or after September 1, 2023.

Any families wishing to change their 2023-2024 payment plan or method of payment are asked to contact Mrs. Cheryl Gilleshammer in the Accounting Office by June 15, 2023. or 204-478-6042.

Marian Awards Gala

St. Mary’s Academy Foundation is pleased to host the Marian Awards Gala on October 28, 2023 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Please join us to honour the life and legacy of Constanca (Connie) Magalhaes. Connie’s connection with SMA began in 1985 when her eldest daughter enrolled in grade 7. All five daughters completed their education at SMA, and two of Connie's granddaughters are currently attending the school. Connie returned home to God on November 15, 2021, leaving a legacy of love, family, faith, and service. We are honored to posthumously award Connie the Marian Award, which will be accepted by her daughters at the Marian Awards Gala. Read a full bio at

Funds raised from the Gala go to enhance innovative teaching and learning, and support our sustainability as a forward-thinking school for young women. Individual tickets are $200 each and After Party tickets are $50. Find out more details and purchase tickets at Also, a variety of sponsorship opportunities are available. See the Sponsorship Package at Anyone with questions may reach out to Kaylene Kessler a or 204-478-6031.