Lower and Middle School History

Santa Catalina Lower and Middle School 1951 graduatesSanta Catalina Lower School held its first eighth-grade graduation on June 4, 1951. During the early years, some of the Lower School girls boarded, living in the Hacienda with the Upper School resident students. Classes were held in the Hacienda until 1953 when the first Lower School classrooms were built.

Under the direction of the first three principals — Sister Robert, Sister Lorraine, and Sister Stella — students were guided through a rigorous academic curriculum as well as deportment, posture, and courtesy. Catholic catechism, weekly Mass, and community service were firmly established. For recreation, the entire student body was divided between two teams: the Apache and the Sioux.

Santa Catalina Lower and Middle School students

Sister Charles taught elementary grades from 1957 to 1968. In 1970, she returned to Santa Catalina as Sister Ellen and became Lower School principal. Under her guidance, grades 6 to 8 were reconfigured as Middle School. During this time, more lay teachers joined the faculty, and parent volunteers brought expertise to supplement traditional courses.

In the late 1960s, Sister Jean noticed that there were many more young children on the Monterey Peninsula than there were places for them in local preschools. So, in 1970, she set out to add Preschool and Kindergarten to Santa Catalina's Lower School. Having taught in coeducational parochial schools, Sister Jean was also confident that the Lower School would benefit from the presence of boys. Hence, the school welcomed its first coeducational class to Preschool in 1971, and the first coed eighth-grade class graduated in 1982.

Santa Catalina Lower and Middle School Grade 8 graduates

In 1976, the first lay principal joined the Lower and Middle Schools, and lay leadership has remained in place ever since. Today, Christy Pollacci is head of the Lower and Middle School.

The development of academic, artistic, and athletic skills within a close-knit, Christian community has remained the hallmark of the Lower and Middle Schools for more than 60 years. In the 1990s, the curriculum expanded to include a more comprehensive study of art, computer technology, and science. The Apache and the Sioux of old evolved into interscholastic middle school teams for both boys and girls.

In 1998, the Lower and Middle Schools formalized the structure of their character education program. In 2009, the program was named Compass, which is based on the core values of our mission: Excellence, Spirituality, Responsibility, and Service. These four words are the directional points on our compass. The needle stands for Veritas, meaning truth, our school motto. In guiding young people toward intellectual growth and moral and spiritual awareness.