History and Future
The Story of Saint Michael
The story of Saint Michael the Archangel High School dates back to the mid-1990s, years before our doors first opened to students, when SMHS cofounder Hugh Brown questioned the principal of his young daughter’s Catholic elementary school as to what Catholic high school opportunities existed upon her graduation from eighth grade. Distressed by the answer that the only options were to 1) homeschool, 2) commute to Northern Virginia, or 3) move, the effort to establish a Catholic high school in Fredericksburg began to unfold—spearheaded by Brown, his wife Ann, and cofounder Ed Dihlmann.
The founders’ initial efforts included numerous meetings with religious orders and the local diocese to consider opening a Catholic high school in Fredericksburg; however, when these efforts bore no fruit, the founders reconvened, placed their faith in the Holy Spirit, and decided to do it on their own. With their backgrounds in the business community, they convened a small group of parents and concerned business people to discuss the need and vision for a Catholic high school in the immediate area, and after receiving encouraging responses to the initial vision from the greater community, in 2002, the Catholic Business Network of Central Virginia (CBNCV), a nonprofit organization formed in 2001 by Brown and Dihlmann to bring local businesses together to witness to the good news of Jesus Christ in their businesses and support local Catholic education, created a group called the “Catholic High School Subcommittee” to further explore the possibility of making this vision a reality. Through tireless efforts, relentless determination, and unwavering faith, in June 2004, the founding board established and incorporated Saint Michael the Archangel High School, Inc., a nonprofit Catholic high school as defined by Section 501©(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
Between 2004 and 2006, substantial work was completed on creating policy and infrastructure for the school, raising funds, and establishing a “Culture of Life” curriculum that would embrace the tenets of the Catholic Church with regard to the culture of life so as to battle headlong the pervasive culture of death in popular society. In September 2006, SMHS welcomed its first 12 students at the school’s temporary campus on the lower level of an office building. On faith and prayer, we began.
After two years of student body growth, the Brown & Dihlmann families agreed in 2008 that it was time to take SMHS to the next level, acquiring a permanent, 19-acre campus featuring a state-of-the-art 37,500 square-foot facility, housing numerous classrooms, two spacious gymnasiums, a 25-yard indoor pool, and numerous opportunities for expansion as the size and needs of the student body develop.
In the spring of 2010, after only three and a half years and far ahead of the average curve, Saint Michael the Archangel High School received accreditation from SACS CASI—a leading accrediting body for schools worldwide. In spring of 2019, after many years of effort and prayer, the school received official recognition as an independent Catholic school under the umbrella of the Diocese of Arlington from Bishop Michael Burbidge.
Today, SMHS continues to make its mark on the greater Fredericksburg community, providing a classic, college-preparatory, Catholic education to young men and women in grades nine through twelve. We invoke the intercession of our namesake and patron, Saint Michael the Archangel, who was chosen for his example of courage and commitment to the Lord in the face of great evil and difficulty, to continue to guide us as we teach our students to apply the teachings of their Catholic faith and defend the culture of life, as we believe it is through him that the high school has flourished.
The school has remained open during the pandemic and served its students, staff and its mission smartly, thoughtfully, and with great care. The fall of 2020 saw Saint Michael successfully complete a refinance its mortgage for the long term viability of the school. A Capital Campaign effort entitled “Hope for the Future” completed its lengthy study period in March of 2021. The Campaign in partnership with major supporters will enable the school to retire all of its debts and develop its 25 acre campus with a new academic wing, expanded science and technology facilities, an indoor field house practice facility, outdoor fields, and our own chapel. A formal announcement, letter from our Bishop, and launch of our long awaited Capital Campaign began in April 2022.