Magnificat High School, founded and sponsored by the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, opened in 1955 in the former Wooster School in Rocky River with a freshman class of 63 students and three Sisters of the Humility of Mary. One hundred nine sisters have served in educational ministry at Magnificat partnering from the beginning with dedicated lay personnel in continuity with practices of partnership begun from their founding in Dommartin, France, in 1854. Since its beginning, Magnificat has grown to become the largest Catholic, private girls’ school in Ohio, comprised of a student population of over 770 young women representing five counties of the Cleveland diocese and a religious and lay faculty of more than 75 members.
The hallmark of education at Magnificat has always been its reputation for excellence and caring. In the late 1960s, the school adopted a mosaic schedule to address the variety of learning rhythms of both students and teachers. In the early 1970s, reflecting the nature of the student body, Magnificat committed to a fully accredited college-preparatory curriculum, receiving the official State Department of Education designation in 1985. Annually, at least 98 percent of graduates matriculate directly to a four-year college or university. In 1973, Magnificat established the Genesis program, the first of its kind, involving seniors in a two-week community service and career exploration under a mentor in the broader community.
In 1985, the school was honored as an “Exemplary Private School,” one of the original 26 non-public schools nationwide so named by the U.S. Department of Education. That same year, the administration embarked upon the school’s first capital campaign, which resulted in a new wing located at the east end of the building housing the Theology and Science Departments. The project also included classroom and office renovations in the main building and an athletic field for softball, soccer, and track and field. Two years later, the Activities Center (Gym) and outdoor tennis courts, both located at the eastern end of the property, were completed.
In 1986, the school was incorporated and a Board of Directors established to assure responsibility for the strategic direction of the corporation and to ensure a philosophy, mission and identity consistent with that of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary. The Code of Regulations thus guarantees the forwarding of the institution in an enduring and recognized way.
Magnificat’s leadership has been open to growth and change and has led Magnificat to its present stature in the community and nationally. Faculty, parents and students live the Mission of Magnificat in educating young women holistically to learn, lead, and serve in the spirit of Mary’s Magnificat. Faculty and staff work together with parents to create the kind of caring environment that fosters spiritual growth and intellectual development.
Nineteen hundred ninety-seven marked the transition to a President-Principal administrative model, facilitating more comprehensive planning for the future while maintaining a strong academic program. Beginning July 1, 2010, Magnificat High School announced a innovative leadership structure with the appointment of two deans, Dean of Faculty and Academics and Dean of Student Life and Formation, holding mutual, comprehensive responsibility for the day-to-day aspects of the school, its students, faculty and programs. The President has overall responsibility for the school community, its Mission, strategic direction, Board, constituent relationships and advancement. Along with the President and Deans, the Leadership Team is comprised of Vice Presidents of Mission, Advancement, and Finance and Administration.
The Humility of Mary heritage has fostered devotion to Mary as a strong woman and faithful disciple throughout her life, speaking joyfully as well as prophetically in the school prayer, the canticle of the Magnificat. This heritage has also promoted involvement in justice and service supported by the H.M. Community Endowment both for summer immersion experiences as well as tuition assistance and other supporting grants. Magnificat’s emphasis on the holistic development of students has led to the enhancement of the Campus Ministry program in complementary dimensions of service, liturgy/prayer, retreats, and peace and justice as well as co-curricular and athletic programs.
Fostering the holistic development of students is an array of 40 co-curricular options which evolve in response to student interest.
With the passage of Title IX in 1972 and increased availability of college scholarships for scholar-athletes, Magnificat began to mount competitive teams, which today number 12 sports, most including freshman, JV and varsity levels, and have achieved State Championships in a range of athletic events.
In 1995, the first Named Endowed Scholarship (NES) was established leading to 154 more by 2013. A range of merit and need-based scholarships complement the NES, including Alumnae, Marian, Academic and Lourdes Academy. Today, tuition assistance awarded to students exceeds $1.6 million annually.
Education beyond the classroom has encompassed field trips to theaters, museums, universities, science and nature centers, as well as student cultural exchanges begun in 1999, with visits to schools in Barcelona (1999), Brussels (2004-10) and Grenoble (2012), and most recently, travel to China (2013). In 2000, summer immersion experiences were inaugurated and have included immersion retreats in El Salvador, Ecuador, Immokalee (Florida), Appalachia and Cleveland.
In 2010, The Rosemary Saas Center for Women of Faith in Leadership was established at Magnificat. It supports initiatives in leadership development, including local and internationally noted speakers, scholarships, alumnae connections—in person and skyped—and the Link Crew upperclass to freshman mentoring program.
The Freshman Family Welcome Conferences for incoming students became customary in 2009. The Family Mass Program was inaugurated in 2011 to celebrate the gifts of each class and the call to live Mary’s Magnificat in the world. Pendants are distributed by class: Learn; Serve; Lead; Symbol of Mary with Magnificat Anima Mea Dominum (My soul magnifies the Lord).
In 2012, the Theology Department implemented the new Diocesan Theology Curriculum based on the Doctrinal Framework of the USCCB complemented with traditional units on Mary and the Magnificat, identity, history, heritage and Gospel justice.
The school-wide recycling program, initiated by students in 2008, was the origin of the comprehensive sustainability approach that has given rise to composting, planting of a prairie, use of sustainable materials in construction, and awareness and advocacy fostering care for God’s creation. In October 2012, Magnificat High School, one of four schools in the nation, was designated a Fair Trade School by Fair Trade USA.
In March 2013, the Board of Directors approved a resolution naming the Surround Learning Center as the Humility of Mary Center, the Cafeteria as Marian Commons, and the Chapel as Lourdes Chapel in honor of the history and heritage of the Sisters of the Humility of Mary, their sponsorship and enduring contributions to Magnificat High School since its founding.
Learning continues in the summer through summer reading, with the first all school read in the summer of 2011, and through internships at NASA, the Cleveland Clinic, the United Nations and an array of summer programs in forensics science, biology, pharmacy, engineering, leadership, theater, dance and global issues. Evolving partnerships have included a collaboration with Great Lakes Science Center in 2012 and 2013. In 2013, the Genesis program was re-conceptualized as a project-based, personally envisioned interdisciplinary experience conducted across junior and senior year. The revised Genesis experience will culminate in an authentic product and/or innovative presentation.
Magnificat’s college-preparatory program meets the needs, interests and abilities of all students attending from over 100 elementary schools. It was developed from foundational principles related to global perspectives, women’s ways of knowing, leading and being holy and successful transitions to college. The curriculum engages students in the essential skills of communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity, while encouraging personal as well as global awareness. The program is augmented with Advanced Placement courses offered in a range of subjects in art, English, math, languages, science and social studies, and garners millions of dollars in college scholarship opportunities.
In more than half a century, Magnificat has graduated over 10,600 young women who are making significant contributions both in family and professional lives, locally, nationally and internationally. Alumnae connect in annual reunions and varied programs from retreats and career presentations to Rosemary’s Conversations, linking the generations.
Magnificat High School holds full accreditation May 2011 through 2017, from the Ohio Catholic Schools Accrediting Association and participates in the regular cycle of joint accreditation as a member of the AdvancED (formerly North Central Association) Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement.