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Marian Middle School Wraps Students In Support All The Way Through College

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Provided by Marian Middle School
Marian Middle School serves 71 students from fifth through eighth grade.

The Tower Grove South neighborhood is home to St. Louis’ only all-girls Catholic middle school. School administrators describe it as a “school beyond walls” because its students are equipped with resources that help them, and their families, overcome societal and financial obstacles.

Marian Middle School opened its doors to serve girls from lower-income backgrounds in 2000. After starting with a class of 14 fifth and sixth graders, the school now serves 71 students from fifth through eighth grade.

On Tuesday’s St. Louis on the Air, school President Mary Elizabth Grimes talked with host Sarah Fenske about what Marian provides its students and how it's evolved over the past 21 years.

Grimes explained that the students who attend the school come in up to three grade levels behind their peers. She added that many move on to high school with test scores at or above the national average.

“And it's not that we necessarily have any magic potion or secret wand. It's just that in the educational environments they've been in, their potential has not been tapped,” Grimes said.

Marian also works to provide parents with the necessary resources for stable at-home learning environments.

“For example, one year ago when COVID-19 hit, we knew that there would be food insecurities for our families as a result of the pandemic. And we worked ahead of time to develop a remote learning plan to assess what the technology needs were for our families,” Grimes said.

“We went to the grocery store and stocked up and put loads of food into the back of station wagons so that our girls left just before spring break with technology and food. And we continued that process throughout the summer.”

Grimes explained that addressing disadvantageous social determinants is important because it helps lift families out of a cycle of poverty. Doing so through education, she said, further helps students aspire to larger goals in life.

“Systemic change requires transformative attitudes. And so that's what we are putting into the toolbox of our students. And our parents are seeing that as well,” Grimes said.

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is hosted by Sarah Fenske and produced by Alex Heuer, Emily Woodbury, Evie Hemphill and Lara Hamdan. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr.

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Lara is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air" at St. Louis Public Radio.

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