Ties & Traditions
A Legacy of Sisterhood at SMA
St. Mary’s Academy was founded in 1889; however, ties were not part of the uniform until 1925. Since then, each class has marked their time at SMA with a colorful tie, unique and special to their class. The first class to wear ties, the class of 1925, wore a green tie as part of the uniform. The class of 1926 chose to wear an orange band on their sweater sleeves. The class of 1927 chose to wear red ties. The class of 1928 chose to wear gold ties tipped in purple; this was the only class who wore "purple ties." The classes of 1929 through 1938 wore ties of green, orange, red, and yellow--not gold. But starting in 1939 the sequence of blue, red, gold, and green was officially adopted and has remained in place ever since. The tie is an important tradition at St. Mary’s Academy and a central part of a SMA student’s individual identity as a part of her tie color and her group identity as a SMA Belle. More than a colorful piece of fabric, the tie is a significant piece of cultural continuity that connects the SMA legacies of the past to the vibrant young women of today.
The tie serves as a marker of sisterhood at SMA, in addition to a variety of events that take place throughout the year that provide Belles with the opportunity to bond with their classmates and SMA sisters of all grades.
- Tie Earning Process: Freshmen do not begin their time at SMA with a tie--they must earn it. The freshman class collectively creates a class identity for their tie color and presents it to Administration, Faculty, Staff, the Senior class, and Freshman families in attendance. To do this, they select a class mascot, patron Saint, and motto that best represents who they want to be as their class tie color. The class also selects a popular song with a positive and uplifting message and then rewrites it to chronicle their journey at SMA, memorizes it, and performs it at the presentation. Lastly, the Freshman class must memorize and perform the SMA Alma Mater, whose lyrics date back to the 1930s and our time at the old Slauson and Crenshaw campus. A polished and graceful presentation will earn the Freshman class their tie, which they are surprised with at a later date unknown to them.
- Big Sister - Little Sister Events: During Freshman orientation, 9th graders fill out a survey indicating their personal interests. These surveys are given to the Senior Class Student Leadership Council officers who pair Freshmen with Senior Big Sisters. The Seniors host a “Mystery Week” where Seniors leave anonymous clues on their Freshman Little Sisters’ lockers, sharing their own interests with their Little Sister and giving clues about who to look out for on Reveal Day, the culminating event of the week where Freshmen find their Big Sister on the Senior Lawn and enjoy a picnic and welcome party with the Seniors. Throughout the year, Seniors and Freshmen take turns in planning Big Sister - Little Sister events around holidays like Christmas or Valentine’s Day.
- Sophomore Showcase: The Sophomore Class is responsible for hosting a showcase that involves the talents and contributions of every member of the Sophomore Class. This showcase is often a combination of talent show and play, involving a theme, script, performers, stage crew, and hosts. The Sophomore Class collectively decides on a theme, goes through audition processes, and decides how the production will go. The entire school and students’ families are invited to the showcase, which takes place during the school day at the start of Second Semester.
- Graduation Arch-Bearers: Another tradition dating back to the Slauson and Crenshaw campus is the presence of members of the Sophomore Class at the Senior graduation ceremony. Sophomores create arches covered in the flowers of the color of the graduating senior class. The Sophomores proudly hold these arches high as Seniors walk through them during their graduation processions.
- Junior Ring Liturgy: The Junior Ring Liturgy is a beautiful tradition at SMA, marking a Belle’s transition from young student to upperclasswoman. This transition is celebrated in the Fall with an evening Mass of thanksgiving for Juniors and their families. During the liturgy, we bless the Juniors’ class ring, or any significant piece of jewelry with sentimental value, that serves as the physical marker of their transition into upperclasswomen. This is an incredibly meaningful events for the Junior class and their families as we gather together to celebrate their growth as Belles and thank God for the many blessings bestowed up the SMA community.
- Senior Tie Returning Ceremony: In May, we host the Senior tie Returning ceremony. This event begins with a Seniors going on a celebratory walk through the halls as the rest of the student body cheers them on. In the gym, representatives from the other classes present the Senior class with gifts, such as poems or trinkets, that uniquely honor their bond and time at SMA. Selected faculty, staff, and alumni give brief messages of congratulations to the Senior class. Members of the SMA Development and Alumni Department give Seniors their first SMA Mug and copy of the Echo to welcome them into the official Alumni community. Lastly, each is Senior called up to symbolically “return” their tie to SMA, in preparation to leave SMA and embark on the next part of their educational journey. For the remainder of the school year the Seniors may choose to wear their tie or not as part of their uniform. The Senior Tie Returning Ceremony is a beautiful celebration of the legacy and bonds of sisterhood at SMA.
A Vibrant Student Life on Campus
Throughout the school year, Student Leadership Council hosts a variety of whole-school events where Belles can take advantage of the unique opportunities an all-girls’ school provides to have fun on campus by showing class spirit, school spirit, and camaraderie. Some of these events include:
- Music Mondays at lunch
- Quarterly spirit rallies
- Spirit contests at athletic events
- Bulletin Board decorating contests
- Assemblies celebrating cultural heritage months and a variety of special events
- Halloween celebration
- Door decorating contests for various holidays
- Fun dress-up days, like Twin Day or Pajama Day
- Spirit weeks for Catholic Schools Week and St. Joseph Week
- Belles & Beaux Winter Formal Dance
- Summer Countdown Celebration