Catholic Standard El Pregonero
Classifieds Buy Photos

After Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart celebrates its centennial Mass, seniors reflect on school’s impact

At an April 30, 2023 Mass celebrating the centennial of Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, Catherine Ronan Karrels – Stone Ridge’s Head of School and a member of its class of 1986 – gives Communion to student Olivia Vaughan, a member of Stone Ridge’s class of 2023. (Photo courtesy of Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart by Katya Balaban)

In 1923, the United States was in the throes of Prohibition. President Calvin Coolidge took office following the death of President Warren Harding. The original Yankee Stadium opened its doors in the Bronx. Just three years prior, the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote was ratified. In downtown Washington, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart was established at 1719 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W.

Now, the school founded by the Society of the Sacred Heart is located in Bethesda, Maryland, after moving to that campus in 1947. Stone Ridge, an all-girls college prep school for grades 1-12, has a coed early childhood program. This school year, Stone Ridge is celebrating its centennial as an accomplished institution with a robust academic curriculum and many extracurricular activities. It touts notable alumnae, including journalists Cokie Roberts and Maria Shriver.

Jesuit Father James Van Dyke, the president of Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, celebrated Stone Ridge’s Centennial Liturgy on April 30. 

Sister Suzanne Cooke, the provincial for the Society of the Sacred Heart in the United States and Canada, speaks at the end of the April 30 Mass celebrating the centennial of Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda. (Photo courtesy of Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart by Katya Balaban)

Stone Ridge seniors Olivia Vaughan, Erin Shannon and Kayla Murphy reflected on their time at Stone Ridge following the Mass.

“It has become a home over the past four years, especially after we got back from COVID. I tried to spend as much time as I could on campus, and I feel like that really impacted how I feel about the school,” Vaughan said. She began at the school in ninth grade.

Shannon will be attending William & Mary in Virginia, while Murphy will be enrolled in Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. Vaughan will attend the University of Maryland at College Park.

“This is my 14th year, I’ve grown up here. I’m sad to leave, but I also feel like I’ve outgrown it in a good way. I’ve gotten everything I needed from here, they’ve prepared me for the next four,” Shannon said. 

Murphy, who joined in ninth grade as well, said the school has provided her with more than education.

“I’ve seen a lot more of an influence and emphasis on community here, which has really been nice because the faculty and staff are so invested in their students. It’s just been really great to get to know everyone in my grade for once. I know everybody’s names, and I feel comfortable enough just walking up to everyone that I know. I’ve definitely been able to come out of my shell in these past four years, and I’m really grateful to Stone Ridge for that,” Murphy said.

Connie Shaffer Mitchell is the director of marketing and communications at Georgetown Prep. Mitchell’s family has a history with Stone Ridge, as she graduated from the school in 1992, one daughter of hers graduated in 2021, and currently she has a daughter enrolled with the class of 2024 there. Shaffer Mitchell served as the director of marketing and communications at Stone Ridge from 2010 to 2021. She currently works under the same title at Georgetown Preparatory School. 

According to Shaffer Mitchell, the Sacred Heart education at Stone Ridge is a large component in what makes the school stand out. 

“[Sacred Heart has] created so many wonderful women leaders who have made such a difference, both here in Washington, D.C., but also beyond in our world. [The school] is a tribute to the Sacred Heart education and how they've educated women to be so purposeful, to really dig deep, but to think broadly and to be open-hearted, Shaffer Mitchell said.

Shaffer Mitchell has seen the school grow over the years – literally.

“The school has grown remarkably in terms of its physical plan over the years…it’s just phenomenal how it’s grown and yet it still brings women back from decades and decades,” Shaffer Mitchell said. 

Shaffer Mitchell continued discussing the evolution of Stone Ridge’s campus. 

“The campus has just grown so beautifully in terms of the grounds, the way they’ve been manicured and taken care of is just phenomenal. Stone Ridge has grown in terms of its athletic facilities, the turf fields, the Madeleine Sophie Barat Pavilion has really created a wonderful environment for the community to not just cheer on our fabulous athletics, but also to just bring people back for other events. It enhances the field day experience here. It enhances all the different traditions that the girls have,” Shaffer Mitchell said. 

The Mass was followed by goûter, which means “to taste” and comes from the French tradition of a snack between lunch and dinner, where attendees gathered to eat and discuss the future of Stone Ridge. 

Anne Foley, a member of the class of 1973 at Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda, serves as a lector at the school’s April 30 Mass celebrating its centennial. (Photo courtesy of Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart by Katya Balaban)