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The History of Our Parish School

In 1847, a parish school was conducted on lower State Street by five Sisters from the order of the Daughters of Charity.  The pupils numbered fifty.  This school was short-lived and the Daughters of Charity soon left the school to establish and conduct St. Joseph’s Hospital on East Second Street (now Broadway) in Alton.

On August 29, 1859, property south of Ss. Peter and Paul Church extending back 444 feet to a stone quarry was purchased as a location for the Bishop’s residence and a school.  The school for boys began at once.  It contained two classrooms and four small living rooms for the Brothers of the Holy Cross (Notre Dame, Indiana) who came the following year to teach.  The Brothers of the Holy Cross continued to conduct this school for boys from 1860 to the summer of 1888 when, at their request, they ceased their labors in Alton.

Meanwhile, the Ursuline Sisters from St. Louis arrived in Alton in March, 1859.  At once they opened an Academy and Boarding School and the Parish School for girls at 506 State Street.  It is known as the Mansion House and still stands today.  Their parish school continued until 1862, when they moved to their new residence on Fourth Street where they conducted both a “pay school” and a “free school” for girls.

Then in September 1888, the Ursulines came to Ss. Peter and Paul School and made it a free school for all boys and girls of Alton who wished to attend.  A high school, better known as the Cathedral High School, was also begun and continued until 1927 when the last class transferred to the new Marquette High School.

On March 3, 1907, the parishioners decided to build a new school.  On October 8, 1908, the cornerstore of the present structure was laid, and on September 9, 1909, classes began in the new building.  In 1929-30, the present building which houses the gym and cafeteria was completed.

In 1947, a kindergarten was opened.  In 1954, two large basement rooms were converted into two classrooms, a kindergarten and second grade room.  Later, one basement room was converted into a library with a teachers’ lounge at the end of it.  Two of basement rooms are now pre-kindergarten rooms.  A computer lab now occupies one of the other rooms, and the kindergarten room is on the first floor.

In 1973, Ss. Peter and Paul School and St. Patrick’s School were consolidated, and for the next five years were known as Consolidated Catholic School.  The four lower grades attended St. Patrick’s and the four upper grades attended Ss. Peter and Paul.

In 1978, with the permission of the Bishop, the consolidation of the two school ceased, and each parish again had its own school.  At this time, the pastor, Fr. Peter J. Donahoe, completely renovated Ss. Peter and Paul School.  Ceilings were lowered, new heating and wiring systems were installed, as well as new fire alarms, smoke detectors, and emergency lights.

The 1978-79 school year began with a lay principal and seven teachers.  One hundred and fifty-one students enrolled.  This was a new beginning for the seventy year old building.

In the fall of 1979, the Ursulines assumed the principalship of the school once again.  The school was administered by the Ursulines until the fall of 1985 when a lay principal assumed the administration.  The lay principal, with eight full-time lay teachers, one part-time lay teacher and one Ursuline sister comprised the school staff.

In July, 1990, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate assumed the responsibility of Ss. Peter and Paul Parish.  The school, under the direction of Fr. Roger Schoenhofen, OMI, was also governed by the Education Council, which was comprised of the pastor, principal and representatives of the parish and school parents.

A full-time pre-kindergarten program was added in the fall of 2012 with an enrollment of 18 students.

Ss. Peter and Paul faculty is comprised of a full-time principal, 8 full-time teachers, one part-time teacher, one part-time teacher’s aide, one part-time computer teacher, physical ed and music teacher, and two volunteer librarians.  The staff also includes a secretary and facilities manager.

Msgr. Kenneth C. Steffen was appointed Parochial Administrator in July of 2013.  Under this leadership, the parish has shown in size and revenue.