McAuley to Begin Name Change Process

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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.