Frequently Asked Questions
We know you will have many questions as you prepare to start your academic year with us. Here you will find useful information that will answer many of your questions and a list of the staff and teachers you can contact if you have more detailed questions.
When should I arrive?
New students for the fall of 2013:
The dormitory opens on Thursday, August 15, 2013. Please arrive on August 15th or 16th. The first day of classes is August 26, 2013. We have many important and useful orientation activities planned for you from August 19th-24th.
Please notify the school with your flight information, so we can pick you up.
For returning students:
You should plan to arrive between August 19 and 22nd. Your locker assignment will be given and your student photo will be taken on Friday, August 23, 2013, so you must arrive by Friday morning.
Please notify the school about your arrival flight information, so we can arrange to pick you up.
School starts: August 26, 2013
Graduation: June 6, 2014
Last day of class: June 11, 2014
Holidays and Breaks
: 11/28/2013 -12/1/2013 (Thursday to Sunday)Martin Luther King Day:
The Christmas Break is 12/23/2013 - 1/3/2014. School resumes on January 6, 2014. The dormitory will be closed during these two weeks.
The Spring Break is 3/24/2013-4/4/2014. The last day of school is March 21, 2014. School begins on April 7, 2014. The dormitory will be open during these two weeks.
*Important Notice About Breaks
Students must be present in their classes during the weeks before and after the Christmas and Spring breaks. Students may not leave early or return late. If students return late or leave early and miss class work, they cannot receive a grade for the missed work.
As soon as you obtain your student visa and book your airline tickets, please email Mr. Dan Griffiths (firstname.lastname@example.org) with your flight information and itinerary. Make sure that your final destination is Medford, Oregon USA (Rogue Valley International - Medford Airport). We will be on hand to welcome you, transport you to the dormitory, settle you in, make sure you have what you need, and give you a detailed packet of information about the August 19th-24th orientation program and everything you need to get ready for the school year.
What will my life be like in southern Oregon?
You will be living in Cedar Hall on the campus of nearby Southern Oregon University. This dormitory is used only for St. Mary's International Boarding Program. It features common areas with televisions, foosball and ping-pong tables, kitchen and laundry facilities. All rooms have high-speed, broadband Internet.
The dormitory is fully supervised with both St. Mary's and SOU staff members.
Transportation to St. Mary's is by bus and departs at 7:30am for the start of school and returns to the dorm at 4:15pm. Additional transportation is provided for students who have sports practices and games.
What is the weather like?
Southern Oregon is a semi-arid region with approximately 19" precipitation annually. It has a mild, four-season climate. It is a region of very low humidity, clear skies, cool evenings, and hot summer days.
We are at an altitude of 1800 feet above sea level in a valley surrounded by mountains as tall as 9,000 feet. It is hot and dry from June through October, with a rainy season from mid-November through February. It rarely snows on the valley floor, but there is skiing and snowboarding within a forty-minute drive on Mt. Ashland. Early spring flowers begin to bloom in February, and the pear trees blossom in early April.
Click on the link below for detailed climate information.
What should I bring with me? Clothing? School supplies? Can I ship things in advance?
Once you have your visa and your travel plans are set, you can send some personal belongings. We are happy to store any items that you want to ship ahead of time. Send them to St. Mary's School, 816 Black Oak Drive, Medford, Oregon USA 97504.
Please note that DHL does not have a Medford office. DHL sub-contracts with UPS once packages arrive in the USA and this transfer sometimes delays shipments to Medford. It is recommended that you use UPS or FedEx directly.
It will be warm when you arrive and stay that way through October. Light summer clothing which meets the requirements of the St. Mary's School Dress Code will be sufficient for the first few months.
By the end of October, you will want to have a warm jacket. A waterproof jacket, sweaters, and other warmer clothing are good for the winter. It does not snow in the valley, so heavy snow boots are not necessary unless you decide to participate in the ski and snowboard.
St. Mary's School has high-speed, secure, wireless Internet for students, so please bring your laptop if you have one. St. Mary's IT staff will provide you with passwords and tech support when you arrive. You can buy school supplies such as paper, notebooks, protractors, pens and pencils here once you arrive.
*Important Note: Please bring an electronic translator dictionary with you. Cellular phones cannot be used as dictionaries during classes at St. Mary's School.
During orientation, each international student will have the opportunity to open a bank account at a local bank. In order to open bank accounts, students are advised to bring cash or travelers checks. You might want to have money wired from the bank in China to a local account in the U.S. There is no balance required to open a bank account at a US Bank. Parents will be able to wire money to their student's bank accounts throughout the school year (as needed) for spending money.
It is strongly advised that each international student travel with a Visa credit card to be used for incidentals throughout the year.
How do we pay tuition charges?
A wire transfer of funds is required. This is the safest and most secure method.
Payments must be made in full by August 1, 2013 for returning students.
New students are asked to pay their tuition by July 1, 2013.
For additional wiring instructions, please contact Ms Ronda Sheffield at email@example.com.
Are there any additional fees?
Yes. Books, optional trips, and optional participation on athletic teams have associated costs not covered by tuition.
Each student needs to purchase textbooks after receiving a schedule. The official on-line bookstore for St. Mary's is ClassBook.com. To access the site, please follow these easy steps:
1- Go to http://www.classbook.com/
2- Click on Order Books
3- Zip code is 97504
4- Click on St. Mary's
5- Enter your first name and last name and click add
6- Under division, on the top left corner of the screen, select Upper school.
7-Select the Dept/ grade drop down and choose your subject.
8- Select your level: Freshman, Sophomore, Junior, or Senior
Note: you will need all the books that are listed for each of your classes.
9- Add your selections to the cart and pay with a credit card.
10- Please ship the books to St. Mary's School, 816 Black Oak Drive Medford, Oregon 97504 and we will store them for you until your arrival.
Please be sure to order using the student's name so that the name appears on the box.
Important: Please purchase and ship your books no later than July 31, 2013.
Optional trips require additional fees. Examples of these trips are the World Religions Trip to San Francisco, Choir and Instrumental Music tours, Outdoor Club weekends and camping trips.
Fees are charged on a per sport basis. Here is the schedule of fees for each sport.
Additionally, for some sports, such as golf, tennis, and ski and snowboarding, students must provide or rent their own equipment.
Our Athletic Director, Mr. James Joy firstname.lastname@example.org, can answer questions specific to each sport.
How do I access my billing statement?
St. Mary's School has a secure on-line system called My BackPack that allows youto see your financial summary, billing statements, and account balances at any time.
Mybackpack also allows parents access to their student's grades, assignments and allows parents to email teachers. Upon enrollment, we will provide students and parents with login and password information for accessing this system.
Who is the person to contact with financial questions?
Ronda Sheffield, Director of International Admissions, can answer all of your financial questions.
When do I get my schedule of classes?
Students will receive their schedule by July15th. Students may make minimal changes to their schedule during orientation after meeting with Mr. Meyer, Head of the Upper School, and Ms Sheffield.
What about learning English (ESL)?
Students are required to take an English language proficiency test during the August orientation. Students will be assigned to appropriate ESL classes based on their English proficiency levels.
Our mission is to support each student's efforts to develop their English skills and provide instruction to ensure success at St. Mary's School. Contact Ms Ronda Sheffield (email@example.com) with any questions about our ESL classes.
When will I take the SAT test?
Seniors should plan to take the SAT at St. Mary's School on the first available test date in October of their Senior year. Students register at www.Collegeboard.com and choose St. Mary's as the test site. Transportation will be provided from the dormitory to St.Mary's School only on this date.
Juniors at St. Mary's School should plan to take the SAT in the spring of their Junior year. St. Mary's School will provide transportation from the dormitory to the St. Mary's test site on only one test date each spring. Students should check with the St. Mary's staff to learn about this testing date.
*Students who would like to take the SAT should register for the test at least two months in advance to make sure they can attend on these test dates.
**Students who do not register in time or who want to take a test on a different date are expected to provide their own transportation to the testing site on the test day.
When will I take the TOEFL test?
As an integral part of our academic and college advising, international junior and senior students at St. Mary’s School are required to take the TOEFL. These tests are mandatory and are an essential part of the college application process. All American colleges require the TOEFL for admission.
Students must take the TOEFL once in the spring of their junior year and once in the fall of their senior year.
Students take the TOEFL at the St. Mary’s School Testing Center located on the St. Mary’s campus. Students will be billed for the cost of the test twice: once in the spring of their junior year and once in the fall of their senior year.
Fall Administrations 2013
All seniors will take the TOEFL on either September 28, 2013 or October 26, 2013.
Registration will take place at St. Mary’s School. Please ask Ms Sheffield for help with this.
The 2013 cost for each TOEFL is $180.
Spring Administration 2014
The spring administration date for juniors will be April 20, 2014 and April 27, 2014.
For additional information about TOEFL testing, please contact Ms Sheffield at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What about academic advising?
Ms. Sheffield is the academic advisor for international students. Additionally, Mr. Meyer, Head of the Upper School, is always available for academic consultation.
What about college counseling?
This begins immediately during orientation and continues intensively throughout the student's years at St. Mary's. Upon arrival you will meet our college counselor who will help you plan and set goals to help you achieve college placement.
What extracurricular activities are available?
St. Mary's offers a wide range of optional extracurricular activities such as the Outdoor Club, Mock Trial, Brain Bowl, math team, musical groups (both vocal and instrumental), a major all-school theatrical performance in the spring, community service opportunities, and a number of special interest clubs.
During orientation, students will learn in detail about each of these. Additionally, special programs and events designed to help the international students get to know the local students and staff and to make friends more quickly and become comfortable in the community will be required. Weekend activities will include Outdoor Club trips, school dances, and attendance at school sporting events among others. A monthly calendar of events will be given to the students.
What will the August New Student Orientation cover?
* Dormitory and Campus orientation
* English language placement testing
* American classroom expectations and culture
* Summer Reading and ESL classes
* Obtaining cell phones
* Obtaining bank accounts
* Meeting the St. Mary's staff
* Meeting St. Mary's students
* Getting to know Ashland (the city where the dormitory is located)
* Getting to know Medford (the city where St. Mary's is located)
* F-1 visas: explaining responsibilities
* Survey of students' interests
* School supplies
* A field trip activity
Can I participate in sports?
Yes! All incoming 9th graders are eligible to compete for St. Mary's School in interscholastic athletics for all four years of high school or until they turn 19 years old. In other words, no students older than 18 years of age can compete.
Please note: Interscholastic sports teams and competitions in Oregon are governed by a state agency, the Oregon Student Activities Association (OSAA), which has some precise rules. Students entering St. Mary's, or any school in Oregon, in grades 10,11, or 12 are required to:
A) wait one full academic year before becoming eligible to play,
B) have St. Mary's file a waiver request allowing the student to forgo this waiting period.
In general, such requests are usually approved. St. Mary's is currently working with the OSAA to grant an automatic waiver to all students of the St.Mary's International Boarding Program.
We will post the outcome of those negotiations on our website.
How do I fulfill the community service requirement?
Community service is an important part of attending St. Mary's School. During this service, students learn important lessons about service to others and belonging to a community. Seniors are required to reflect on their Community Service in a senior writing research project.
St. Mary’s requires each Upper school student to perform a minimum of 25 hours of service per year to the school, parish, or community agencies in need of help. International students may do half of their community service requirements back home; however we strongly encourage students to do the community service here during the year. If a student does half of the required hours at home, they must submit a certified letter, translated in English stating what they have done and where.
To qualify for community service, a student may check a possible assignment for appropriateness with Mr. Michael Wing, Community Service Organizer, at St. Mary's School. (email@example.com)
Although students may volunteer as many hours over the required 25 as they want, at least half of the total required hours must be performed in service outside the school. If a student volunteers over 25 hours in one year, he or she may apply the excess hours to the next year. Each student must have met the minimum requirement for the previous year to re-enroll.