students in desks

ACADEMICS: Empowered by Knowledge


An excellent Catholic school is guided and driven by a clearly communicated mission that embraces a Catholic identity rooted in Gospel values, centered on the Eucharist, and committed to faith formation, academic excellence and service.

At St. Mary's High School, we believe that scholarship and faith belong together - the whole person, seeking ultimate Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Our Catholic faith informs everything we do as we seek to educate the whole student. Our college-preparatory curriculum prepares students for academic success.

The St. Mary's High School curriculum joins together the National Standards and Benchmarks for Effective Catholic Elementary and Secondary Schools (NSBECS) with rigorous content-based learning objectives to provide an excellent academic program within a faith-filled environment.

The St. Mary's curriculum is:

  • Aligned with the National Standards and Benchmarks for Catholic Schools (NSBECS)

  • Infused with Church Teaching

  • Focused on Developing 21st Century Skills

  • Differentiated and Individualized

  • Continuously Assessed and Improved

The benchmarks were developed to articulate nationally defined characteristics and performance goals. The NSBECS acknowledge Catholic identity and culture as vital to the mission of Catholic education. For more information, please visit their website HERE.

Small class sizes allow St. Mary's teachers to know each student on an individual level. We have an average size of 14 students per class with a ratio of one faculty member for every 11 students. Currently, 75 percent of the faculty holds a master's degree or higher. 

In making a commitment to academic excellence, St. Mary’s continues to strive to offer an exceptional college preparatory experience combining high expectations, rigor, and student engagement in a values-based Catholic environment. 


St. Mary's High School requires a minimum of 28 units of SMHS credit for graduation. These credits are explained below and include 20 core credits in theology, English, math, science, and social studies, 1 cumulative credit in health and PE, 1 credit in world language, 0.5 credit in fine arts, and 2 credits of community service. The remaining 3.5 credits may be selected based on student choice and availability from our list of elective courses. Students may also take additional core classes to fulfill their 28 SMHS credits. If a student is interested in additional courses of study not offered at SMHS, they may enroll in dual credit courses through the UCCS CU Succeed program, or another SMHS-approved institution, for enrichment credits beyond the required 28 units.

  • 4 credits of Theology OR 1 credit for each year spent at St. Mary's High School

  • 4 credits of English

  • 4 credits of Mathematics (must include Geometry and 2nd year of Algebra; max 1 credit from PLTW allowed to count for a math credit)

  • 4 credits of Science (must include Biology and Chemistry; max 1 credit from PLTW allowed to count as a Science credit)

  • 4 credits of Social Studies for Class of 2026 and later (must include 1 year of World History; (2 years recommended) 1 year of American History (or AP US History); and 1 year of American Government (or AP US Government & Politics); (max 1 credit from Humanities allowed to count as a Social Studies credit)

  • 3 credits of Social Studies for Class of 2024 and 2025 (must include 1 year of World History & Geography; 1 year of American History (or AP US History); and 1 year of American Government (or AP US Government & Politics)

  • 1 cumulative credit of Health (0.5) and Physical Education (0.5)

  • 1 credit of World Language (1 year is required; 2-4 years are recommended)

  • 0.5 credit of Fine Arts (Art, Music, Theater)

  • Additional elective credits (student choice - can include additional core options)

  • 2 credits Community Service (0.5 each year) OR 0.5 credit for each year spent at St. Mary's High School

Freshmen & Sophomores: Must take a minimum of 6.5 SMHS credits each year toward the 28.0 graduation credits.

Juniors & Seniors:  Must take a minimum of 6.0 SMHS credits (not to include TA) each year toward the 28.0 graduation credits.

Dropping/Adding Courses: Students may request to drop a class and add another class during the first five (5) days of each semester. The course change form must be completed and signed prior to that deadline. The student is responsible for all of the work that was previously assigned in the new course. Dropping a course after the deadline will result in a Withdraw/Fail on the student transcript. Students requesting to add a course will be placed on a first come, first served basis as classroom space allows.

St. Mary’s High School requires a minimum of 28.0 units of SMHS credit for graduation for all students. A one-semester course equals 0.5 credit.

Students are allowed only one study hall per semester, as credits permit.

Seniors only are eligible to be a Teacher Assistant (TA). This replaces the Study Hall for that semester. Seniors must be taking 6 courses in addition to being a TA. Only one TA position is allowed per semester (0.5 credit/per semester). Seniors must have a cumulative grade point average of 3.0 or higher to be eligible to be a TA.

AP Courses: All students taking an AP class are required to take the AP exam in May and complete the SMHS's culminating activity for each AP course.

Dual enrollment courses taken through an outside agency (UCCS CU Succeed or other approved institution) are allowed after the completion or scheduled completion of the 28.0 SMHS credits required for graduation. Please see the AP/Dual Enrollment page on our website for more information.


Each student (grades 9 –12) can earn the Principal’s Honor Roll award if he/she earns a weighted semester GPA of 3.7 to 3.8499. Students will receive a certificate from the principal and acknowledgement at our semester Academic Awards Assembly.

Each student who achieves a weighted GPA of 3.85 or higher for the semester will receive an Academic Letter award. The purpose of the Academic letter is to recognize students who have excelled academically while attending St. Mary's High School. Any SMHS student who is enrolled in at least six courses of study (three of which must be core academic classes) and earning a 3.85 grade point for that semester is eligible. The grade point average is determined by dividing the total points earned by the total number of credits. Students will receive a SMHS Academic Letter for the first time of 3.85 or higher in a semester, and they will receive a certificate for each time thereafter.

Upon graduation, students will be recognized for their academic achievements using set criteria. Using their cumulative weighted GPAs, students may receive the following honors:

SUMMA CUM LAUDE GPA (Highest Honors) 4.50 and above


CUM LAUDE GPA 3.85-4.19 


Staffed by Teachers and Assisted by National Honor Society Students

Math Mentor Center
To assist students, free math tutoring will be available during Zero Hour. Peer tutoring will be offered through the Math Department by members of the National Honor Society.

For more information, please contact the Math Department Chair, Mr. Paul Hartman (

Writing Mentor Center
Free access to the Writing Center will be available during Zero Hour. The Writing Center will provide instruction, resources, and support for all students to improve as writers. Peer consultants conduct sessions to help their fellow students improve as writers, becoming more competent and, as a result, more confident.

For more information, please contact the English Department Chair, Mrs. Mary Anne Kavanaugh (



Transitioning into college-level courses early on can help you adjust to a more rigorous level of study.

Please note there are additional fees for all college-level courses.

  • AP Courses: Cost of the exam (paid to AP College Board; financial assistance available through AP College Board)

  • Dual/Concurrent Enrollment: Cost of the course (paid to college)

AP Courses

AP (advanced placement) is a program of classes developed by the College Board to give high school students an introduction to college-level classes and also gain college credit before even graduating high school. These courses are more difficult than the usual high school class. Many colleges grant credit, advanced placement, or both for qualifying AP Exam scores.

St. Mary’s High School is a Catholic, college preparatory school; challenging our students with rigorous, college-level academics is a natural part of our curriculum. Investing in our curriculum, AP teachers are trained and certified by the AP College Board to provide our AP students with the tools, resources, and skills necessary for achieving success at the college level. You can find in-depth information about the program and its benefits at the College Board website, including videos of students sharing how AP courses have impacted their college opportunities and choices. 

Beginning 2023-2024, all students taking an AP class must take the AP exam for that course. As the AP College Board exam is a standardized score, taking the AP exam has two main purposes: 1) provides student and school confirmation of level of achievement as indicated by performance on the exam; and 2) qualifies student for possible course credit, a prerequisite waiver, and or scholarship at chosen college.





AP Language & Composition

AP Calculus AB/BC

AP Biology

AP U.S. Government & Politics

AP Literature & Composition

AP Statistics *test only

AP Chemistry

AP U.S. History

AP Computer Science Principles *alternating years

AP Physics

AP European History

Concurrent & Dual Enrollment

Concurrent & Dual enrollment courses are college courses that students can take during high school that count both for high school and college credit. They are typically taken by students who are looking for a challenge, a competitive advantage in enrollment, and a head start on their college coursework. 

St. Mary’s High School has partnered with UCCS - CU Succeed for the purpose of offering local concurrent and dual enrollment options for our students. Students pursuing credits somewhere other than UCCS - CU Succeed, must have the institution approved by SMHS administration. 

Concurrent enrollment for credit is available with permission from counseling and administration for those students who have surpassed our course availability and met, or are scheduled to meet, the required 28.0 credits at SMHS to graduate. Juniors seeking to enroll in concurrent enrollment courses must have a cumulative GPA of 3.4 at the conclusion of their sophomore year. Seniors seeking to enroll in concurrent enrollment courses must have a cumulative GPA of 3.4 at the conclusion of their junior year. SMHS may grant up to 0.5 high school credits per semester course on a 5.0 scale. These credits are in addition to the 28.0 required credits for graduation and not in place of. Please note, SMHS can not guarantee that a student’s schedule will accommodate off-campus, in-person courses. Students will be assigned a period during the day to work on their courses.

UCCS - CU Succeed

To participate in the concurrent enrollment program through UCCS - CU Succeed, students must meet the requirements in the UCCS - CU Succeed course catalog and complete and submit the student recommendation form. A list of current course offerings (course catalog) and all necessary materials can be found at this link Cost is determined by the university and is the responsibility of the student and his or her family. Not sure if you are ready to enroll in a CU Succeed Online course?  Take a short 5-minute quiz HERE to see if you are ready!

UCCS - CU Succeed MathOnline course offerings and registration information can be found at the link below. Students must submit a student agreement packet for these courses. Please note, students interested in taking Calculus I at UCCS as concurrent enrollment must have completed AP Calculus at St. Mary's High School first. To register, go to

College credit is available for dual enrollment through our Project Lead The Way (PLTW) engineering program taught at St. Mary’s High School.

Please contact Mr. Eric Baxter in the Counseling office ( ) regarding the process for enrolling in concurrent and dual enrollment courses.