St. Mary's Ryken Breaks Ground on Student Activities Center


St. Mary's Ryken (SMR), a Catholic co-ed college preparatory school in Leonardtown, Maryland, broke ground on Thursday, May 4, for the new Donnie Williams Center, which will provide 48,000 square feet of modern, spacious facilities for many types of school, community and sporting events. The center will include a gymnasium, locker rooms, training facilities, concessions, gathering spaces, stage, outdoor patio and common area for students. Located on the upper campus, this facility also will become the new location for graduations, all-school Masses and assemblies.

"The SMR community spoke, and we listened! It is clear that this new multipurpose space will create a center that our students, faculty and staff will be proud of," said SMR President and CEO Mary Joy Hurlburt. "It will enable our entire school to gather to celebrate our most important events. The new gymnasium will provide improved athletic facilities to compete in the prestigious Washington Catholic Athletic Conference, and allow us to welcome the community to host their events."

"It is an honor today to share with our community that the new facility will be named the Donnie Williams Center!" Hurlburt said at the ground-breaking.

To view architectural renderings of the new center, please visit

A member of the Ryken High School (RHS) Class of 1971, Williams held close all of his life the values he learned from the Xaverian Brothers. "Mr. Williams let the values shape the person he would become as he grew through adolescence into a young man during his transformative years at RHS," Hurlburt said.

Williams was president of his class sophomore and junior years and vice president of student government his senior year. He was active in many clubs and activities and is remembered as the catcher on the winning varsity baseball team. He was truly a Knight! After graduation Williams attended Salisbury University, and became a very successful developer, entrepreneur and mentor to individuals who were starting out in new business ventures or real estate. He loved helping people succeed, and he loved to serve others. Williams, who passed away in May 2012, established the Donnie Williams Foundation so that children would have the opportunities in life that he did not have growing up – places to come together, in formal and informal settings, to participate in activities after school.

"The Donnie Williams Center will open in the fall of 2018, and it will be a tremendous source of pride for our students," said Jimmy Burke, SMR's Capital Campaign co-chair.

As an additional phase of this project, the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) facilities in Paschal Hall will be enhanced. They will reopen in the winter of 2018. Modeled after university-level STEM labs, the SMR Innovation Lab will include a classroom, and build and collaboration spaces that will be available to all SMR students. "The repurposing of Paschal Hall intrinsically sets a dynamic marriage in place between the Scholars Program Project Lead the Way (PLTW) curriculum with STEM labs," said Hurlburt. "Called by our mission and our Xaverian values, the commitment of both of these projects is a testament to serving our students and our greater community."

"The new Innovation Lab will provide a dedicated, exciting environment where our students can engage in authentic design and construction to complement PLTW," said Elizabeth Schuck, Science Department chair. "Students who choose to participate in this program will have a unique opportunity to develop their critical-thinking skills while envisioning solutions that in the past were limited by their imaginations. This lab space will be where student-generated plans and ideas will be transformed into physical products and original inventions."

For more information about the SMR Scholars Program visit Highlights of the new Innovation Lab learning zones, including classroom, build and collaboration spaces, can be viewed on the SMR website at The Innovation Lab will open in the winter of 2018.

"SMR's commitment to preparing our students with the skills that today's universities and employers expect requires that we continue to foster an environment that inspires collaboration, critical thinking, creativity and problem solving," said SMR Principal Rick Wood.

"This event today is a celebration of the vision, the aspirations and the strategic planning for these two extraordinary projects that will provide the continued commitment to providing space and the resources for a 21st century educational experience for our students," said Hurlburt.

Opportunities to name various spaces within the Donnie Williams Center are still available. For additional information and to make an online gift, please visit, or contact the Advancement Office (301-373-4182/

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