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St. Ann's Academy Students in tams and coats, 1962
St. Ann's Academy Students in tams and coats, 1962

The school motto of St. Ann's Academy was SIC ITUR AD ASTRA, which translates to "Such is the way to the stars". Over and over again, the former students and teachers from the Academy spoke of the high expectations of the pupils there, and how this confidence in their abilities led them to achievements. A teacher commented, "We knew what the girls were capable of and demanded it." Sylvia Hofstetter-Scott, during her years as a student, felt that "There was integrity for who we are as persons ... We were not in a mould."

St. Ann's Academy Student Register 1858 - 1923
St. Ann’s Academy Student Register 1858 - 1923

The Sisters saw the girls as individuals, and the decisions about their recreation, academic studies and personal growth reflected this approach to teaching. There was discipline - the strap was given out and punishments were meted for serious offences - but the mutual respect between the Sisters and their students created an environment that many of the girls appreciated, meaning that punishment was not required at all. Not including the students who came for art and music lessons alone, close to 35,700 students registered for studies at St. Ann's over its 115 years of operation.

The first few pages of the Student Register contain names of students from California, Calcutta, Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia and everywhere in between. Over the next century, girls would come from as close as a block up the street to as far away as Latin America. Orphans, who had nowhere else to go, were regularly taken in by the Sisters. Parents were often eager for all their children to attend the Academy, and boys were admitted as day students for Primary Grades. There was always a mixture of ethnic backgrounds, but, in spite of the French Canadian heritage of many of the Sisters, English became the language of instruction after the first few years.