McAuley to Become The Maine Girls’ Academy on July 1, 2016

Dear Community,

Last April we let you know that the school would not be allowed to keep the name Catherine McAuley High School or McAuley. Since that time we have completed a naming process with the help of the entire community.

Faculty, alumnae, students and community members submitted over 400 name suggestions that were reviewed by a committee representing each constituency group, including students and marketing professionals. We are particularly thankful for the students who participated in the online survey and on the naming committee.

After reviewing the work of this committee, the Board of Trustees unanimously chose The Maine Girls’ Academy as the new name for the school. This name reflects not only a momentous new chapter in our school’s history, but the unparalleled value of all-girls’ education in Maine and the rest of the world.

When the naming committee reviewed the many nominations for a new name, they found quite a few suggesting that Principal Emerita Sister Edward Mary Kelleher, who retired in 2010 after thirty years, be honored. Sister Edward Mary, however, was not interested in such recognition, and explained, “I feel the new name should reflect the school’s future, not its past. The Maine Girls’ Academy is a very good selection that reflects the devotion the school has always had to helping girls find and fulfill their potential.”

Another piece of news to share: in 2015 the readership of Down East Magazine voted us Maine’s Best Private School. Once again, we are receiving this honor! Thank you for voting for us and for helping us be the school that inspires others to vote for us. We look forward to winning this honor for a third time in 2017 – this time with the name – The Maine Girls’ Academy.

We want to extend a special thanks to the Class of 2016 who have donated $3000 to help with the website redesign over the summer. Already, we have received several leadership gifts and pledges for The Maine Girls’ Academy. How often in our lifetimes will we be part of a groundbreaking opportunity such as this? I hope you will join me as we welcome and celebrate our “new” school with your enthusiasm, time and donations.

I once worked for a Head of School who always said, “Remember who you are.” During this time, perhaps our motto can be “Remember why you are.” We are here for the girls – the Maine Girls – the ones who will become the confident thinkers, compassionate leaders and purposeful change makers of our world. Thank you for journeying with us.


Kathryn Woodson Barr
Head of School

To view the official press release, please click here.

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Quarter 3 Honor Roll Announced

Congratulations to those McAuley students who achieved honor roll status for Quarter 3 (2015-2016)! View the list here.

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McAuley to Begin Name Change Process

For the past few months, the Board of Trustees and administration of Catherine McAuley High School have shared important information with our school community, particularly surrounding details of our future transition to an independent school model. Throughout this time, your tremendous support has been key in helping to pave the way to a promising new school.

This letter is to inform you of another important change that will occur prior to our July 1, 2016 independence: the adoption of a new school name.

The school is named for Catherine McAuley who established the Sisters of Mercy in December 1831. Because the Catherine McAuley name is so closely aligned and connected with the religious order, the Sisters of Mercy Northeast Community, based in Cumberland, Rhode Island, informed the school that neither “Catherine McAuley” nor “McAuley” would be available for the school’s use once their sponsorship of the school ends on June 30, 2016. Therefore, “Catherine McAuley” and “McAuley” cannot be viable options for the school moving forward.

The McAuley name has stood for educational excellence and a nurturing environment for nearly fifty years, and we recognize that many in our community will feel disappointed or upset. We all certainly wanted to be able to continue to use the name, but that is not possible, and we respect the decision of the Sisters of Mercy.

You may recall that McAuley’s origin was the result of a similar name change forty-six years ago when Cathedral High School and St. Joseph’s Academy merged to form this new school on Stevens Avenue. McAuley, Cathedral and St. Joseph’s Academy have always been much more than simply names.  

We are choosing to be excited about finding a new name and believe it will propel us toward the exciting future that awaits our school and students – all while upholding the same values that have so meaningfully shaped us over the years. We ask you to join us in enthusiastically embracing this process.

Please know that we will continue to celebrate the school we love with special events and traditions – like the McAuley Tea, our annual Day of Service, the Kris Kringle celebration, Mercy Day and so much more. And the plaid skirt will continue to be emblematic of the traits that define our students as strong, confident, courageous leaders. There is great power in the plaid…and in our school family.

This is a pivotal time for McAuley, and one where we’re shining brighter than ever before. In December, McAuley and the University of New England announced a new partnership that will give McAuley graduates the opportunity for priority admission to UNE, earning a UNE bachelor’s degree in three years, as well as future study abroad and campus usage opportunities. Through our ongoing collaboration with Saint Joseph’s College of Maine, we offer similar fast-track opportunities for students and professional development opportunities for faculty. We are committed to updating our academic strategic plan and will launch enhanced programming in girls’ leadership development, global citizenship and an innovative E-STEAM curriculum (integrating traditional Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics with Ethics and the Arts). Friends and funders of McAuley applaud these new initiatives and have made several leadership gifts for organizational capacity building, for science lab updates and for girls’ leadership development.

No matter its name, this school remains the only school in Maine designed especially for young women. We need your support to fully realize these plans and to carry this remarkable school – and its remarkable young women – into the future.

Now is the time we turn to you for your voice and vision as we continue to shape the new school.

Over the coming weeks we will launch a formal renaming process, seeking suggestions from present students and parents, alumnae, faculty, staff, the Board of Trustees, donors and local Sisters of Mercy. You will also be invited to participate in a series of community meetings to discuss the school’s plans for the future. A schedule of local activities is attached here. We also invite you to share your email through our website portal, follow us on social media and join the “Plaid Professionals” Facebook page as an alumna so you can most easily stay up-to-date and involved. Those with emails will receive an electronic survey in early May soliciting name suggestions and input. Your partnership and participation are needed and greatly appreciated.

McAuley is so much more than a name; it is our community – this amazing, tightly-knit family – that will always and forever remain the very heart and soul of this institution. Our commitment to our students, staff, families, alumnae and friends remains constant – and stronger than ever – in the midst of this great change. But ultimately it is our unity, coupled with the enduring sisterhood of our McAuley girls, that will sustain us for years and years to come.

Here’s to strength, courage and generosity – the traits emblazoned in our school seal – as we begin this new chapter.

To access our list of Frequently Asked Questions, please click here.

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Register for the 10th Annual Run for Hope!

On Saturday, May 14, 2016, Catherine McAuley will be hosting the tenth annual James & Maxine Pouravelis Scholarship Fund Race/Run. The fund was established in December 2006 in memory of two devoted and vibrant members of the Catherine McAuley community. Jim and Maxine lived each day with an unending and unwavering spirit of hope and optimism.  Although they embodied this hope through their generous contributions to countless communities, they had a special affection for the McAuley community that nurtured their two daughters and provided them with a superb educational and spiritual foundation.

In life, Jim and Maxine cheered loudly, danced often, and loved immensely. They passed away within two months of each other in the summer of 2006. Even in sickness, with a powerful faith and steadfast love of family and friends, they remained sure and firm in their hope. The James and Maxine Pouravelis Memorial Scholarship will provide financial assistance to young women seeking an education at Catherine McAuley High School, an education Jim and Maxine saw as essential to the intellectual, athletic, and spiritual development of young women. Through the hope that is nurtured by a McAuley education, this scholarship will continue to keep their hope in new beginnings alive.

To date, 36 deserving students have been awarded a total of $129,000 in support of their McAuley education.    

Click here for race details and to register!                                                                 

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Semester 1 Honor Roll

Congratulations to those students who earned honor roll status for Semester 1!

Quarter 1
Quarter 2

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UNE and McAuley Enter Exciting Partnership!

On January 15, 2016, the University of New England (UNE) and Catherine McAuley High School signed an agreement between the two institutions that will allow Catherine McAuley students who complete a rigorous academic program and who matriculate at UNE to earn up to 30 college transfer credits, potentially enabling the students to enter the university with sophomore standing.

The agreement, signed by UNE President Danielle Ripich, Ph.D., and Catherine McAuley’s Head of School Kathryn Woodson Barr, will give successful graduates of McAuley’s Advanced Placement (AP) Program the opportunity to receive course credit in UNE’s College of Arts and Sciences if accepted to the university, provided that they demonstrate mastery of advanced placement work. Successful candidates will also be given priority consideration for admission and merit scholarships at UNE.

President Danielle Ripich said, “This agreement between UNE and Catherine McAuley is a partnership in creating a new pathway for high performing McAuley students to satisfy some or all of the first-year requirements at the university. It presents an opportunity for them to complete their college education in just 75 percent of the time it usually takes and with just 75 percent of the expense.”

Students admitted to UNE through this agreement may major in any program offered by the College of Arts and Sciences, including subjects in the humanities, arts, social sciences, education, business, natural sciences and others.

Catherine McAuley’s Head of School Kathryn Woodson Barr commented, “McAuley is thrilled to be entering into this partnership with UNE — one that will propel our young women forward into the world of higher education and global citizenship. Our collaboration will place tremendous educational opportunities at students’ fingertips.”

UNE currently has similar agreements with Thornton Academy and Biddeford High School. Catherine McAuley also has an ongoing partnership with Saint Joseph’s College of Maine.       




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McAuley Voted Best Private School in Maine!

McAuley is #1! Catherine McAuley High School was recently voted the Best Private School in Maine in “Down East” Magazine’s annual poll of reader and editor favorites.

The annual “Best of Maine” readers’ awards provide “Down East” readers the opportunity to recognize their favorite Maine people, places and things around the state. Based solely on popular vote, the readers’ choice winners represent the best of Maine as identified by those who know Maine the best: the state’s residents and repeat visitors. Equally invested in the state’s culture, editors choose their own favorites to receive recognition each year.

Kathleen Fleury, “Down East” editor-in-chief, spoke of the selection process, saying, “Our readers love Maine for many different reasons, and the Readers’ Choice awards encourage them to show their support for the people and places that make the state so great. The selection process is one that everyone puts a lot of time and thought into – so it’s a true honor to be selected.”  

“Based on popular vote, we are thrilled that others recognize what we have always believed – that McAuley, the state’s only all-girls high school, is #1, shared Head of School Kathryn Woodson Barr.  “Here’s to the students, faculty, staff, alumnae and McAuley community who truly are the BEST!”

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Register for McAuley’s Softball/Baseball Clinic!

Catherine McAuley High School is excited to present an evening of baseball/softball hitting and pitching for coaches and parents on January 30, 2016 from 4-7 PM.

Featuring McAuley parent Ken Joyce from the San Francisco Giants, along with Bowdoin College pitching coach, Jason Jensen, and Sarah Jamo, head softball coach from USM, the event will feature:

4:00-5:00pm: Ken Joyce – Swing Like a Pro in the McAuley Auditorium
5:00-5:30pm: Dinner in the McAuley Mall provided by Amato’s
5:30-6:30pm: Jason Jensen – Baseball Pitching Mechanics in the McAuley Auditorium
5:30-6:30pm: Sarah Jamo – Softball Pitching Mechanics in the McAuley Gym
6:30-7:00pm: Question and Answer Session in the McAuley Auditorium

Pre-register by mail by January 23rd for $30 or pay $35 at the door.

All proceeds benefit the tuition assistance program at Catherine McAuley High School.

Questions? Contact Candy Anderson-Ek at (207) 797-3802 x2022 or

For additional event information, and to access the registration form, please click here.

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McAuley’s Winter Open House – Register Here!

Catherine McAuley High School, Maine’s only all-girl high school, will be hosting its annual Winter Open House for prospective students and their families on Wednesday, January 13, 2016 at 6pm (snow date: January 21, 2016). Young women of all faiths are invited to our campus at 631 Stevens Avenue, Portland, for a program that will feature student, parent and alumnae panels, guided tours, information on tuition assistance and the opportunity to speak with students, faculty and coaches. 

Register here to attend our Winter Open House.  

Students (8th graders) are also encouraged to register here for our final High School Placement Test on Saturday, January 23, 2016 at 8:30am.

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Calling All Class of 2015 Graduates!

On Friday, January 8th, from 12:40-2:20pm, graduates from the Class of 2015 are invited back for “College Conversations” with the current senior class. This fun annual activity gives our “almost graduated girls” a chance to ask all those burning questions and get the REAL scoop from current college freshmen.
Interested alums should contact or for more information. We hope you can join us!
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