Upper School

Welcome to the St. Margaret’s Upper School—a vibrant, inclusive school community dedicated to healthy student learning and growth, nurturing their important high school years and preparing them for adulthood. We are a school with a clear mission to educate the hearts and minds of young people for lives of learning, leadership and service. We are committed to knowing and loving each of our students as we guide them to discover passions, explore new pathways, establish healthy habits, and develop relationships that will nurture them throughout their Upper School experience and beyond. We are proud of our reputation as a school that combines a supportive, dynamic environment with high expectations, and we celebrate our students’ extraordinary growth and accomplishments.

Students arrive to the Upper School in the early years of adolescence, on the heels of grade 8, and leave as college freshmen, well prepared for the next step in their educational journey. During this transformation, we provide rich opportunities for the development of values, passions, and skills that lead to meaningful and successful lives. Curiosity, work ethic, resilience, empathy, creativity and kindness are skills and character traits we endeavor to grow and develop in these important formative years, because who our students are as people is as important as their academic success.

The intimate size of the Upper School and enviable faculty-student ratio allows for authentic and meaningful relationships to flourish between students and teachers. We offer a vigorous, relevant and innovative curriculum taught by expert faculty, of whom nearly 90 percent hold an advanced degree in their field. We offer a full range of honors and Advanced Placement courses to challenge and stretch our students in areas that are of interest to them, from humanities to STEAM courses. Courses such as software engineering, macroeconomics, multivariable calculus, wealth, poverty and ethics, and post AP Spanish allow students to individualize their program and pursue depth in areas of interest.

Co-curricular opportunities are central to the St. Margaret’s experience. We offer 24 varsity sports including football, cross country, basketball, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, volleyball, baseball and equestrian. Most of our teams have a “no-cut” policy, and the teams are able to accommodate a wide range of ability levels while still being highly competitive and successful. Multiple athletics fields and gymnasiums serve as welcome host to many Tartan sports competition that draw parents, guests and much of the student body together—led by a highly-spirited student cheering section, fondly named “The Kitchen,” outfitted with an assortment of food-related costumes.

Our arts faculty, each a professional artist, support a broad and exceptional arts programs in theater, concert band, orchestra, choir, dance and visual arts. Each year our young artists demonstrate unbridled creativity, dedication, and excellence through productions, concerts, exhibits and competitions, which are shared with our entire community. The opportunity to study and perform in the 45,000-square-foot Performing Arts Center supports our award-winning program.

A glimpse into our everyday experience might include students and faculty sharing lunch in the Tartan Courtyard, a collaborative leadership meeting such as Peer Counselors, ASB or our Tartan Inclusivity and Diversity group where students and faculty meet to develop and execute programs that support our community. That same day, students may meet as an entire Upper School community for Convocation, also known as “Convo,” to hear students and faculty share important information, inspire others through a personal story and celebrate each other’s accomplishments. They may also meet in an Advisory group which consists of 10 peers and a trusted faculty member who remain together throughout the four years of Upper School. In this space, they may discuss topics relevant to school and life beyond school or they may play a game and share a snack together.

Our focus on service is engrained in our school community. Our recently revamped service learning program endeavors to create meaningful relationships, contributions and last impact. Students work in advisory groups on special days built into the schedule to partner with local non-profit organizations that they choose, and build an ongoing relationship to support and serve their unique organizational needs. Students complete their service requirement during the school day.

On Innovation Block days, students engage in mini-courses providing practical, relevant, real-world learning experiences outside the curriculum that nurture life skills, personal growth and well-being. The innovative, experiential offerings provide rich opportunities for students to delve into topics and activities that are of interest in health and wellness, life skills and passion projects.

There is much to share about the St. Margaret’s Upper School and we look forward to conversations with you about how our “everyday” Tartan experience might be a right fit for you and your family. We are guided by our Honor Statement that elevates our community where our best is expected, nurtured and celebrated every day. Our community is distinguished by visible and compelling mutual respect, joy and vitality, and one I cherish being a part of as an educator and parent.
Dr. Jeneen Graham
Principal, Upper School

Honor Statement

Conducting oneself honorably is essential to living a meaningful and successful life. Honorable conduct is a gift that one gives to enhance the entire community. I choose to tell the truth, do my own work, treat others decently and fairly, and take responsibility for my actions. Integrity, goodness, and truthfulness are ideals I strive to live up to each day. By living honorably I respect myself and serve others.

Upper School News

List of 3 news stories.

An independent preschool through grade 12 college-preparatory day school in Orange County, California
St. Margaret's Episcopal School does not discriminate on the basis of gender, race, color, religion, sexual orientation or national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational, admission, financial aid, hiring and athletic policies or in other school-administered programs.
St. Margaret’s Episcopal School
31641 La Novia Avenue
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
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