Our History

The history of Oak Ridge and the history of St. Mary Parish and School are two stories intertwined.  When the US government situated its major wartime atomic project here in the early 1940s, Oak Ridge gained the name “The Secret City, ” and hundreds of workers and scientist flocked to the area to staff the city’s several large nuclear plants (Visit the City of Oak Ridge at http://www.oakridgetn.gov/).  Parish members who established the school came from diverse backgrounds, cultures, traditions, and locations. They came in a time of turmoil, seriousness, and great uncertainty for the future of their work. Yet, each came with faith and trust, filled with dreams and hopes for their children and for future generations.

With the growth in population came the need for a Catholic parish–and soon after, a Catholic school– to serve the needs of the growing Catholic population.  The parish and school have shared a vital role in the development and direction of the community. In 1949 and 1950 the beautiful parcel of land on which the paris hand school now sit was purchased, and on September 10, 1950 St. Mary’s School opened its doors to 200 students.  Since those first days, the school has been staffed by the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia from Nashville, a tradition that continues to this day (Visit the Sisters of St. Cecilia at www.nashvilledominican.org).

Initially, the school consisted of grades one to six. Grades seven and eight were added in its second year, Kindergarten began in the 1983-84 academic year, and the pre-Kindergarten program started in the fall of 1985.  The school reached its present completement of grades with the addition of a pre-school, three-year-old program in 2017.

In 1999, St. Mary’s school added a primary science lab and complete primary science curriculum for grades pre-K through fifth—the only one of its kind in the area and still one of the few in the entire state. A total physical renovation of the school, which included a new gymnasium, was completed in September of 2000.

In 2010, St. Mary’s School was declared a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the U.S. Department of Education, placing it in the top 10% of schools in the nation academically.