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How Two Schools Became a Community

How Two Schools Became a Community
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Just as students might find it difficult to imagine their parents as high schoolers, today’s BSM community may struggle to comprehend the days when St. Margaret’s Academy and Benilde High School were separate and joined together to create Benilde-St. Margaret’s.

Pictured in 1907, these three buildings served as the home for St. Margaret's Academy. 

The year was 1974 and both Benilde High School and St. Margaret’s Academy had their respective histories, traditions, and uncertainties for the future. Yet, thanks to a spirit of collaboration and willingness to come together as one community, the legacy of both schools can be seen in today’s Benilde-St. Margaret’s school and its 50 years of student achievements. The Red Knight spirit is alive and well today in our community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, and friends who carry forward a spirit of excellence.

Mary Joranger Neraasen ’76, BSM’s accounting specialist, spent her first two years of high school at St. Margaret’s Academy and made the transition after the merger with Benilde High School. When reflecting on her experience, Neraasen ‘76 shared, “I loved having a wonderful group of friends in high school and that my dad was a teacher, too. I thought I wouldn't like that but it turned out to be a great experience. I now enjoy working here because of the great sense of community.”


Just as the Sisters of St. Joseph, the Benedictine monks, and the Christian Brothers cared for students at St. Margaret’s and Benilde through the decades, today’s BSM faculty and staff care immensely for current students in grades 7-12. “I’m very grateful to be in the class of 2024,” said Lauren Hillins ‘24. “Being a Red Knight means being part of a welcoming community where you feel important and valued every day.” Blessed by the orders and their unique charisms, the shared history of our schools is firmly rooted in the Lasallian tradition of academic excellence.

Erin Deeney Offerdahl '97 and Mary Fran O'Keefe now work together as colleagues.

Walking down the halls of BSM today, you are likely to understand the phrase, “Once a Red Knight, always a Red Knight,” by seeing alums as teachers and staff, members of the administration, and visiting as parents and grandparents. There’s an appreciation for what BSM aspires to provide for students.

“If you told the high school version of me that I would one day be in charge of the school's technology program, I would have laughed,” said director of technology and digital learning, Erin Deeney Offerdahl ‘97. “Being able to help those that taught me has been very rewarding.”

It’s the idea that giving back is something anyone can do, and as Red Knights, it’s inherent in the experience whether you are a student, faculty or staff, or an alum. The posters hung in classrooms inspire and encourage engagement. Whether in photos from years past, scribbled into yearbooks, and posted across social media, it’s an open invitation which has seen BSM welcome back many alumni as educators, administrators, and presidents.

And even those BSM alums who venture into the world, never to return to its halls, there’s still a connection to Benilde- St. Margaret’s, because the school made such a lasting impression on them and who they are in life. Each Red Knight is someone who makes a difference in the lives of others. It may not always be seen or known, but Red Knights care, and that unites us as a community.

As the BSM community celebrates this anniversary year, there will be opportunities to gather in person and virtually, remembering those who have inspired and led the school, and create new moments for future generations to celebrate.

Under the direction of Brother Mark Sullivan, the Christian Brothers constructed Benilde High School in 1956.

French teacher Amy Jo Reinhart Hyde ‘89 has witnessed first-hand the evolution of programs and facilities as a student, alum, parent, and teacher, yet she also recognizes how BSM has stayed faithful to its core mission. “The building has expanded and people have come and gone. But at the end of the day, BSM will always be a place where people find a home,” she said, noting, “The core values of faith, love, and caring for one another are forever part of the BSM community.”

Future generations will likely find it difficult to imagine what life was like at BSM in 2023, yet today’s community of Red Knights are passionate about being a community of care, honoring the legacies of St. Margaret’s Academy and Benilde High School in the classroom, on the field, on stage, and in life, ensuring the legacy will continue for years to come.

Visit the 50th Anniversary page and mark your calendar to join the BSM community for events throughout the 2023-2024 school year celebrating our golden anniversary beginning with a kick-off community event on Wednesday, August 23, 2023.

  • 50thAnniversary
  • Benilde High School
  • Celebration
  • History
  • St Margaret's Academy
  • Who We Are

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About Benilde-St. Margaret's School
Benilde-St. Margaret's (BSM) is a Catholic, co-educational private prep school for grades 7–12 located in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, that draws its over one thousand students from throughout the Twin Cities Metro Area. It is located in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

The mission of BSM is to educate, empower, and inspire learners within a Catholic community to lead lives of faith, achieve academic excellence, and contribute meaningfully to a global society.

Please contact the BSM Marketing and Communications team

BSM Office of  Communications

David Lucs, Director
(Media, News Releases) 

Ife Adebola, Specialist
(Social Media, Knightly News, Photography/Video) 

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