St. Mary’s Robotics Team Rolls On!

Mateo Gorrondona, Ryan Rearden & Miko Zolnierczuk prepare for competition

Mateo Gorrondona, Ryan Rearden & Miko Zolnierczuk prepare for competition

St. Mary’s Lego Crusaders competed with twenty-seven other Lego teams on Saturday, December 3, 2016 to qualify to advance to the East Tennessee Championship.  The annual Lego® Challenge requires participants to identify and research a real-world problem, develop and implement a solution, and communicate their results to a panel of judges.   Additionally, the teams are required to design, build, and program a robot using LEGO MINDSTORMS® to compete on a table-top playing field.  The teams are judged based on their problem/solution, robot design, adherence to the Lego® Core Values, and performance on the challenge field.
The theme for this year’s Lego® Challenge was Animal Allies.  Teams were required to identify a problem that occurs when people and animals interact.  The St. Mary’s Lego Crusaders created a website (AnimalFAQsNow) to answer questions and present information about close-encounters with three threatened species of reptiles found in East Tennessee.   

Mr. Gorrondona, Ryan Rearden, Miko Zolnierczuk & Mr. Zolnierczuk receive the 3rd Place Award for Robot Design

The team received third place in the Robot Design competition and finished 14th overall in the table-top playing field competition.  The Crusaders advanced to the East Tennessee Championship to be held at Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, Tennessee on February 11, 2017.  The St. Mary’s team members are Mateo Gorrondona, Ryan Rearden, Miko Zolnierczuk, and Ethan Hall.  The team is coached by Mr. Gorrondona with Mr. Zolnierczuk serving as a mentor and Mrs. Miller as the faculty sponsor.  Way to go Lego Crusaders!
Ethan Hall working to program the robot for competition

Ethan Hall working to program the robot for competition


St. Mary’s Competitive Chess Team Continues to Succeed!

Secret City Tournament: Luke Cheadle 1st place, Elliot Barnes 2nd place, Genevieve Robinson 1st place, and Miko Zolnierczuk 4th place

Secret City Tournament: Luke Cheadle, 1st place; Elliot Barnes, 2nd place; Genevieve Robinson, 1st place; and Miko Zolnierczuk, 4th place

St. Mary’s School competed in the Secret City Chess Tournament on Saturday, November 5th at Oak Ridge High School. The tournament hosted 42 teams comprised of 76 students. Both unrated and rated levels included teams from grades K-3, 4-6 and 7-12. Genevieve Robinson, Elliot Barnes and Miko Zolnierczuk competed in the unrated 7-12 division and brought home a 1st place team victory for the second year in a row! Individually, Genevieve Robinson won 1st place, Elliot Barnes earned 2nd place and Miko Zolnierczuk finished 4th competing against 7th-12th graders in their division. Luke Cheadle competed in the unrated 4-6 and won 1st place!
Winter Scholastic Open: Luke Cheadle- 1st place

Winter Scholastic Open: Luke Cheadle- 1st place

St. Mary’s Chess club members continued to demonstrate their skill when they competed in the Winter Scholastic Open in Lenoir City on December 3, 2016. Elliot Barnes and Genevieve Robinson competed in the rated 7-12 division. Luke Cheadle competed in the unrated 4-6 level and placed 1st place overall!
St. Mary’s Students showcased their problem solving, visualization and critical thinking skills in these tournaments. Congratulations to our St. Mary’s Chess Club! Thank you, Coach Teri Wiest, for teaching and refining their skills!

St. Mary’s Student Wins Local VFW Essay Contest

Sessayt. Mary’s School students had the option of participating in the Veterans of Foreign Wars Essay Competition. Conducted nationwide, the Patriot’s Pen is a VFW-sponsored youth essay competition that gives students an opportunity to write essays expressing their views on an annual patriotic theme. This year’s Patriot’s Pen essay asked students to describe “The America I Believe In….” Students were asked to think hard about the America they believe in and, in 300 – 400 words, articulate what makes our nation unique and great. We are so impressed with the sentiments shared by our students and proudly announce that Genevieve Robinson’s essay won first place. In her essay, Genevieve wrote, “We have a country in which our differences are celebrated instead of discouraged. Our different talents can be utilized to build a better, stronger nation.” Commander Mickey Vickery, U.S. Army Infantry visited Mrs. Sasser’s 7th grade class to present the certificate along with a $100.00 check. Winners from the local competitions are submitted to the district and potentially the national level. Good Luck, Genevieve!

St. Mary’s Student to Sing in National Honor Choir

anna-and-cvAnna Kasemir, an 8th grader at St. Mary’s School, Oak Ridge has been selected to sing in the 2017 American Choral Directors Association National Middle School/Junior High Mixed Honor Choir on March 8th-11th in Minneapolis, MN. The ACDA is the premiere national choral organization, so singers come from all over the country to participate. She will have the opportunity to rehearse with master conductors and perform choral music at the very highest levels with other fine musicians. The MS/JH honor choir will be directed by Lynnel Joy Jenkins. Ms. Jenkins is the Artistic Director of the Princeton Girlchoir and choral teacher at the Timberlane Middle School of the Hopewell Valley Regional School District in Pennington, New Jersey. Ms. Jenkins’ varied conducting and teaching experience ranges from the elementary to collegiate level. She has served as Assistant Professor of Music Education at the Westminster Choir College of Rider University and Conductor of the Resident Training Choir at the American Boychoir School in Princeton, New Jersey. Mrs. Carol Villaverde, music teacher at SMS, shared her thoughts, “I have been blessed to sing with Anna in music classes since she was in 2nd grade. After her experience last year in the ACDA Southern Division Treble Honor Choir, Anna took the initiative to audition for the National Honor Choir this year. Over 4,200 singers auditioned to sing in the honor choirs this year, and Anna was selected to participate. I am proud of her accomplishment, but what I am most grateful for is that I get to work with my favorite musicians, the children at St. Mary’s School, every day.” Congratulations to Anna! We know she will be a wonderful musical ambassador of St. Mary’s School, the Diocese of Knoxville, and the state of Tennessee.

St. Mary’s Lady Crusaders Earn Their Fourth Consecutive Volleyball Season and Tournament Championship Titles

Volleyball ChampsThe St. Mary’s School girls varsity volleyball team recently competed in the Knoxville Independent School League (KISL) small-school tournament and beat Apostolic Christian Academy to win the championship at the Knoxville Christian School’s gym, in a winner-take-all match.  This is the school’s fourth consecutive season and tournament championship.
Individual Awards were received by St. Mary’s students – Paige Halcrow won MVP & All-Season, Kelli Ann Corbett won All-Season and All-Tournament, and Caroline Elliott won All-Tournament.
St. Mary’s won the regular season with a 9-1 record, under the leadership of all new coaches.  Head Coach, Angie Goodwyn along with Assistant Coaches, Kendall Doogan and Dennis Urban joined together to guide and inspire this group of Lady Crusaders.  The two top-seeded teams in the tournament advanced to the finals and would not disappoint in the title match.  St. Mary’s and Apostolic showed off their fundamental volleyball skills in a loud and intense best-of-three-sets match.  To get there, St. Mary’s defeated Webb School in the quarterfinals and Knoxville Christian School in the semifinals.
Apostolic raced out to a 1-set lead, winning that first set by a wide margin, 25-15.  St. Mary’s girls refused to give in, and squeaked out a physically-draining 25-23 second set win.  During that second set, it was extremely tight; Apostolic looked like they had the second set in hand, but St. Mary’s upped its intensity level, and reeled off the last four points to win the set.  The third set would prove to be the difference, as St. Mary’s outlasted Apostolic to win the third set 15-10.
“The girls worked very hard this season, my number one goal was to make sure they could all consistently serve and pass well, knowing that if the game was close our girls pull out a win. I couldn’t be happier winning my first season and tournament as head coach,” said Angie Goodwyn.
Assistant Coach, Kendall Doogan commented, “During the championship game all of their hard work and determination came together for a heart-stopping match against ACA.  I am so proud of the girls.  They stayed positive and focused on their goals.  They were gracious winners.  I am wholeheartedly looking forward to next season!”

St. Mary’s School is now a One-to-One Technology School

Bishop in 1st (2)Through the help of the St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation, St. Mary School in Oak Ridge is now the first diocesan school to offer “one-to-one” technology. The school used a grant of $29,200 to install wireless infrastructure and purchase dozens of Chromebooks to fulfill the goal of providing a Chromebook for every student in grades 1-8.  The St. Mary’s Legacy Foundation also awarded a second grant of $11,765 to replace the outdated and unrepairable Public Address system in the school.
On May 4, Bishop Richard F. Stika, Sister Mary Marta Abbott, RSM, diocesan Superintendent of Schools, and Mrs. Terry Frank, Mayor of Anderson County, were among several guests who attended the celebration.  The event began with a tour of the school to see how students use the Chromebooks in the classroom, from spelling games in first grade to experiments in the middle school science lab. With one-to-one technology, students stay more engaged and can work at a faster pace, and teachers can develop lesson plans for each student’s individual needs.  Teachers are able to give timely feedback on work students submit electronically through Google Classroom.  Teachers and students alike are excited to use this technology to improve student achievement.


Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank, Bishop Richard Stika, and Sister Marie Blanchette, Principal

Bishop Richard Stika, Sister Marie Blanchette, O.P., and Mayor Terry Frank shared brief remarks about St. Mary’s School.  Mayor Terry Frank concluded the celebration praising the school, “St Mary’s is indeed a very special place.  When I think about education here, I think of the word DELIBERATE.  . . .  St. Mary’s does not have to excel, but they are deliberate in their mission to work each and every day to go above and beyond.  As parents, my husband Lee and I chose St. Mary’s School because of the focus on what is most important—Christ.  We wanted for our children to build their foundation in a God-centered environment, and we got that and much more.  I cannot brag enough about the quality of St. Mary’s academics, and that quality is built upon the commitment of the Sisters and the entire staff—teachers and support staff, and also the contributions of parents.”

A Banner year for the Music Program at St. Mary’s School! Students Recognized for their Talents by Selection in Multiple Honor Choirs

music 1We are pleased to announce that St. Mary’s School students Elizabeth Brands, Sophie Sherlock, and Gabriella Wilkerson were selected to participate in the 2016 TN Treble Honor Choir.  The singers sang under the direction of Dr. Derrick Fox, assistant professor of choral music education and choral conducting in the Ithaca College School of Music.  The Tennessee Music Educators Association commissioned a piece to be performed at the conference opening concert and ceremonies.  The piece entitled “Honeybees” was composed by Andrea Ramsey. Dr. Ramsey attended the conference and rehearsed with the choir as well as attended the choir’s premier performance of her composition.
The Tennessee Treble Honor Choir is an auditioned choir made up of 130 – 150 of the best 5th and 6th grade students from schools throughout the state of Tennessee.  Each student submitted a solo audition recording of her or him singing “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” in the keys of F and A Flat.  A committee of music educators from across the state adjudicated the auditions listening for pitch accuracy, tone quality, diction, ability to use chest and head registers, and phrasing.  The Treble Choir performed at the Tennessee Music Education Association Professional Development Conference held April 13-14 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort in Nashville.
St. Mary’s Students also participated in the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Southern Division Honor Choir in Chattanooga March 2
Marigrace Tidwell (8th grade) was 1 of 8 students chosen to sing in the Junior High/Middle School Honor Choir from the state of TN and THE ONLY singer from East Tennessee.  The JHMS Choir was comprised of 140 singers.  Marigrace sang under Dr. Judy Bowers, a master teacher who truly understands MS/JH kids!  She is Professor of Choral Music Education at Florida State University.   Marigrace also had the opportunity to meet the composer David Brunner as he visited their Friday rehearsal.  He listened to them perform his piece “Cantate Domino”, participated in a question and answer session with the ensemble, and hand signed each singer’s “Cantate Domino” octavo!
Anna Kasemir (7th grade) was 1 of 18 students chosen to sing in the Treble Honor Choir from TN and 1 of 2 from East TN.  The Treble Honor Choir was comprised of 134 singers.   Anna Kasemir sang under Tom Shelton, a composer-conductor, and sang, “Alleluia,” a piece composed by Mr. Shelton for the ACDA Southern Division Convention  Tom Shelton is an Assistant Professor of Sacred Music at Westminster Choir College where he focuses on children’s and youth music.
St Mary’s School participated in the East Tennessee Vocal Association Honor Choir Event held on November 20-21 in Chattanooga, TN.  This year’s All-East Junior High/Middle School Honor Choir was made up of over 275 advanced 7th & 8th grade vocal students from 29 schools throughout East Tennessee.
music 3Students learned and memorized their voice part on five pieces of music prior to attending the honors chorus. This year’s conductor was Deborah Dunne Sousa, Director of Music at the Episcopal School of Knoxville and Lecturer in Music Education at the University of Tennessee, where she teaches courses in elementary and middle school vocal music methods, supervises field experience and oversees student teachers and interns in elementary and middle school vocal music education.  Congratulations to our 7th and 8th grade students.  Left to Right: Mrs. Carol Villaverde- SMS Music Teacher, McKenna Garibay, Sydney Mesmer, Marigrace Tidwell, Paige Halcrow,  Molly Deinhart, Ethan Sherlock, Joshua Harris, Ian Kilevori, & Anna Kasemir (Not Pictured).

Another Great Year at Regional Science Fair!

The annual St. Mary’s School middle school science fair was held on February 18, 2016.  Projects were divided into two categories, biological and physical sciences.  Awards were determined by an expert panel of judges representing local civic organizations, industry, 2016 SASEF ALLand educational entities.  Fourteen St. Mary’s students received awards making them eligible to compete at the regional Southern Appalachian Science & Engineering Fair (SASEF) at the University of Tennessee on April 5 – 7, 2016.
The SASEF is sponsored by the University of Tennessee and numerous local companies and agencies and draws students from 23 counties in East Tennessee.  The goal of the fair is to promote teaching the scientific method in science, engineering and math.  Over the past 18 years, thirteen St. Mary’s students have been named Grand Champion or Reserve Champion at SASEF.
Thirteen of the St. Mary’s Science Fair winners participated in this year’s SASEF.   St. Mary’s is proud to announce that our students received the following overall awards, certificates of excellence, special awards and honorable mentions:
 Overall Awards:

  • 3rd place– Amelia Van Berkel, “Water, Water Everywhere, but not a Single Drop to Drink”
  • 3rd place– Catelyn Krings, “All the Buzz”
  • 4th place– Anna Kasemir, “World Wide Whisper”
  • 5th place– Ryan Rearden, “”Do You Hear What I Hear?”

Certificates of Excellence: Jacqueline Audet , “Is That Cat Fat?”;  Amelia Van Berkel, “Water, Water Everywhere, but not a Single Drop to Drink”;  Anna Kasemir, “World Wide Whisper”; Catelyn Krings, “All the Buzz”; Sydney Mesmer, “Earth Lovin’ Oven”;  Ryan Rearden, “Do You Hear What I Hear?”; Ashlyn Riikola, “A Stomach’s Worst Enemy”;  Sarah Tackett, “Pearly Whites”
Special Awards:  Amelia Van Berkel, “Water, Water Everywhere, but not a Single Drop to Drink”- Women in GeoSciences, NOAA Taking the Pulse of the Planet, NOAA Local Chapter award;  Anna Kasemir, “World Wide Whisper”- Naval Science Award, Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Award; and, Jacqueline Audet , “Is That Cat Fat?”- SASEF Committee Award
Honorable Mentions:  Ryan Audet, “Speed Versus Mass”; Joseph Duhamel, “And the Eye Color Is?”; Mateo Gorrondona, “Can You Keep It a Little Warmer in Here”; Paige Halcrow
, “Bacteria Counts”

Winners Named in SMS Science Fair

Congratulations to our students in grades 6-8 who recently participated in the 2016 St. Mary’s Science Fair on February 18th.  Fifteen of those students received awards for their projects. The winners from each category of Physical and Biological science will attend the Southern Appalachian Science & Engineering Fair (SASEF) at the University of Tennessee in April. We are so proud of the efforts of all of our young scientists!

Physical Science Fair winners (4)

Physical Science Fair Winners

Physical Sciences: 1st Sydney Mesmer, “Earth Lovin’ Oven”; 2nd Amelia Van Berkel, “Water, Water Everywhere, but not a Single Drop to Drink”; 3rd Sarah Tackett, “Pearly Whites”;  4th Ryan Rearden, “Do you hear what I hear?”; 5th Mateo Gorrondona,  “You Keep It a Little Warmer in Here” Honorable Mention:  Anna Kasemir, “World Wide Whisper”; Ryan Audet, “Ball Bearing and Magnets”
Biological Sciences: 1st Catelyn Krings, “All the Buzz”; 2nd Elizabeth Waltman, “Denature or Die: The Importance of Protein Denaturation for OAS sufferers”;  3rd Joseph Duhamel, “And the Eye Color Is?” ; 4th Ashlyn Riikola, “A Stomach’s Worst Enemy”;  5th Jacqueline Audet, “Is that cat fat?”;   Honorable Mention: Elliot Barnes, “Hot or Cold: Left or Right”; Paige Halcrow, “Bacteria Counts”; Emmett Brown, “Acid Rain Hurts”
Biological Science Fair winners (1)

Biological Science Fair Winners

St. Mary’s Students Named to the All-East Junior High/Middle School Honor Choir

Honor Choir

SMS Music Teacher, Mrs. Carol Villaverde, McKenna Garibay, Sydney Mesmer, Marigrace Tidwell, Paige Halcrow, Molly Deinhart, Ethan Sherlock, Joshua Harris, Ian Kilevori, Not pictured: Anna Kasemir

St Mary’s School recently participated in the East Tennessee Vocal Association Honor Choir Event held on November 20th-21st in Chattanooga, TN. This year’s All-East Junior High/Middle School Honor Choir was made up of over 275 advanced 7th & 8th grade vocal students from 29 schools throughout East Tennessee. Other honor choirs at the event included 9th Grade Honor Choir, Women’s High School Honor Choir, Men’s High School Honor Choir, & the Mixed High School Honor Choir.

Students learned and memorized their voice part on five pieces of music prior to attending honors chorus. This year’s conductor was Deborah Dunne Sousa, Director of Music at the Episcopal School of Knoxville and Lecturer in Music Education at the University of Tennessee, where she teaches courses in elementary and middle school vocal music methods, supervises field experience and oversees student teachers and interns in elementary and middle school vocal music education. Congratulations to our 7th and 8th grade students for such an accomplishment!
St. Mary’s School is located in Oak Ridge, about 15 minutes outside of Knoxville. A National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, the school is known for its excellent math, technology & science programs, as well as small class sizes, individualized instruction, athletic programs & after-school care. For more information about the school, staff, and student body, please visit