Santa Margarita Catholic High School was recently recognized by Newsweek as one of the top high schools in the nation for excellence in STEM education. SMCHS is the highest ranked co-ed, Catholic high school in Southern California to achieve the designation and among the top 3 percent of schools nationally.
The list of schools was published on Newsweek’s website on Nov. 8 in recognition of National STEM Day. Newsweek partnered with STEM.org to evaluate the nation’s high schools using both qualitative and quantitative data from 2015-2019 to compile a list of institutions in the United States offering students a quality experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics while preparing students for life after graduation. According to Newsweek, the list highlights schools “that offer skilled teachers who keep up with developments in these fields and who create dynamic learning environments to engage their students.”
“Your students are natural STEM students,” said Nancy Cooper, Newsweek’s Global Editor in Chief in the announcement. “We need to make sure their innate drive, curiosity and creativity aren’t lost along the way. And the best STEM schools are helping to ensure that America’s future in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is in good hands.”
SMCHS offers 59 science and math courses including a wide range of electives.
From building robots that compete internationally to fluidly exchanging ideas and information in shared digital workspaces – Santa Margarita Catholic High School’s experiential, student-centered approach to learning promotes a culture of innovation and propels students to succeed in college and beyond.
With academic programs designed to meet the needs of varied learners, classes are spent mastering material through group exercises, projects and engaging discussions. Santa Margarita’s STREAM program combines science, technology, religion, engineering, arts and mathematics to bridge a better understanding of curriculum across disciplines. Through hands-on assignments, critical thinking skills are strengthened. Students have designed artificial limbs and engineered safety equipment among other projects.
The school has consistently been recognized as a global leader in educational technology. For six consecutive years, SMCHS has been named a Microsoft Showcase School for successfully integrating tablet PC and cloud technology to deliver a more personalized, immersive education preparing students for success in college and the workplace. SMCHS joins an elite community of approximately 300 schools worldwide recognized for their innovation in teaching, learning and assessment. Santa Margarita is one of just 41 Microsoft Showcase Schools in the nation to earn this designation. In the past six years, SM has hosted over 20 campus visits welcoming schools and districts from across Southern California who want to learn more about how Santa Margarita is utilizing technology to create immersive, inclusive experiences that inspire lifelong learning and stimulate the development of essential life skills so students are empowered to achieve more.
Innovation extends beyond the classroom with numerous opportunities for students to gain “real-world” skills. Whether it be learning from professionals in medicine through the pre-med club, exploring computer programming through the coding club, broadcasting a sports game live on Eagle TV 2.0 or utilizing theater as a means for self-discovery and societal transformation, God-given talents are developed in a nurturing environment.
The school’s award-winning robotics team functions like a startup with students learning CAD modeling, welding, marketing and project management. Students design, build and program competition-ready robots. In 2018, the team took top honors in Orange County, earning a spot at the world championships where they reached the quarterfinals. As an official chapter of the national GoBabyGo! Program, students also use their skills to improve the lives of children with limited mobility. Through Santa Margarita’s robotics program, students are mentored by industry professionals.