Saint Catherine Academy has been serving in Belize's education sector for the past one hundred and forty years. The all-girl catholic institution was established in Belize on January twentieth, 1883, when a group of missionaries from the Sisters of Mercy Convent travelled from New Orleans to provide quality education in Belize. S.C.A. has remained committed to that tradition throughout its existence, as it continues to evolve to meet the demands of the changing times. But, its founding philosophy has remained; this is that a sound Christian education is the greatest service to be offered to youths. News Five's Paul Lopez filed the following report.

Paul Lopez, Reporting

St. Catherine Academy is celebrating one hundred and forty years as one of the most prestigious educational institutions in Belize. Throughout its years of existence, this high school has produced world class women leaders in various fields. Take for example, Michelle Arana, Belize's first woman Acting Chief Justice who now serves as a Justice of the Court of Appeal.� There is also Marleni Cuellar, a former S.C.A. student and current C.E.O. of Great Belize Productions Limited, or Tracey Taegar-Panton, a member of parliament. Today, these distinguished alumni addressed an auditorium full of students during a panel discussion, in celebration of the school's anniversary.

Tracey Taegar Panton, Area Representative, Albert Division

"I wish to personally express my deepest gratitude to the Sisters of Mercy whose selfless undertaking to travel from the shores of Dallas to the shores of Belize in 1883 and to invest their collective effort in providing meaningful academic opportunities for young girls. This act of selflessness has forever changed the trajectory of our Belizean society in a way few other singular undertakings have ever had since."

Marleni Cuellar, C.E.O., Great Belize Production Limited

"I want to get some energy going so let me hear you class of 2023, class of 2024, class of 2025, alright 26 let me hear you. Oh, give me chills. Today, I can seek specialized service from mental health services, physical health services, legal services, marketing services, financial services, IT services, I could go on and on, including entrepreneurs from throughout the country, and I am only giving you examples from my graduating class. I dare you to ask your teachers or throw out a profession where there has not been an S.C.A. graduate who has played a pivotal role who has established themselves in that industry or sector. I dare you."

Justice Michelle Arana spoke from the podium in the presence of her mother Agnes Arana, a former teacher at S.C.A. She recalled encounters with her mother in the classroom while attending S.C.A.

Michelle Arana, Justice of the Court of Appeal

"I remember my own mother Mrs. Agnes Arana, very strict disciplinarian. She is sitting right there. Everybody who went through her class knows it. I made the mistake of calling her mommy in class. That was not considered cute by her. I am Mrs. Arana to you when we are in school. The next one I remember about her teaching me is geography. My map was a bit messy and my good friend and class-mate, Millie Quan, her map was drawn to perfection with key and all kind of thing. As I reached home that day I heard, Michelle Agnes Arana. All of know when your full name you are in trouble. What kind of map is this, look like you draw it with your foot. Suffice to say, that was the last time I personally handed any hasty looking last minute work to her. Lessons learnt, pay attention to details and always put your best forward."

There is a saying at SCA, 'once a Mercy girl, always a Mercy girl'. Sister Margret Salisbury, a former math teacher at the academy, came to Belize in 1992 and began working at the Guadalupe Mercy Center. Three years later she became a Math teacher at SCA. Today, she remains involved.

Margret Salisbury, Sister of Mercy

"I thought for, I forget how many years I thought math and I loved it. I loved the girls and Ms. Tillett asked me if I would be the Dean of Discipline and at first I said no, but then I said I would get in touch with all of the girls not just my math class, so I said yes. I make it a point.� I work at the Guadalupe Center on Tuesdays. So, I make it a point to stop and speak to all the girls on my way in. I am a teacher and have always been a teacher and would never want to be anything else. But, teaching to me is more than just standing in front of a class and teaching mathematics. I am teaching people. They are persons and so I like to know how they best learn and all of this."

Salome Tillett, the Principal at the Saint Catherine Academy, says after a hundred and forty years, S.C.A. remains committed to empower the next generation of women beyond traditional roles, a vision that was first established by Catherine McCauley the founder of the Sisters of Mercy.

Salome Tillett, Principal, S.C.A.

"It starts with understanding the foundation of mercy, the vision of Catherine McCauley all those years ago, that women needed an education. They needed to learn more than just to sew and clean house. She wanted them to know, to re4ad, write, to be able to take care of themselves. This is the legacy we walk in and today it is the same thing, but it is a different time. We do it in a different way, but we are about empowering the young women who come to us."

Channel 5

Celebrating 140 Years of Mercy in Belize!