OUR LADY OF FATIMA CATHOLIC SCHOOL
1948 - 2020
In 1948 Msgr. Michael J. Benedict had the great idea to create a new Catholic Church Parish and School and named them after Mary, the Mother of Jesus. He chose Our Lady of Fatima as the name of the Parish because it was in the town of Fatima, in the country of Portugal, where Mary appeared to three young children, telling them to be messengers of God’s news. Msgr. Benedict set out to build his church and on October 16, 1949, bids were received for Our Lady of Fatima School designed by Harold J. Lagroue, Jr. The contract was let to the general contracting firm of Romero and Theall for $212,000. On the feast of the most Holy Rosary, October 7, 1951, Bishop Jeanmard dedicated the new parish facilities. The eight-room school building was designed to provide the maximum efficiency and space as dictated by professional school planners. The auditorium-gymnasium-church provided comfortable accommodations for nine hundred worshippers. There was also a cafeteria, lounge, library and rectory. The rectory was in the twin towers.
When the school opened in 1950, 123 children attended nursery school through fourth grade, taught by four Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament and two lay teachers. Sister Sacred Heart Ott, M.H.S., served as the first principal of Fatima School for many years. One of her successors was Sister Alexander Deanna Fouin, M.H.S., native Fatima parishioner, elected in 1977 as Major Superior of the Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament.
As Fatima School grew, annexes were added. The first annex housed six classrooms, serving grades one through seven and cost $72,000; the second annex had eight classrooms, serving grades one through seven and cost $83,000. In 1957 a third annex was added to the school plant at a cost of $151,000 and home economics and typing were added to the high school curriculum.
The move into the new church allowed the use of the gymnasium for active scheduling of sports events. The athletic program has not only provided physical fitness for all students but also spawned dedicated athletes with the skills and motivation to win. These athletes have built school spirit and pride.
In 1980, with student enrollment approaching 1000, eight new classrooms were designed and constructed by J.L. Andrus at a cost of $210,000. Fatima Parish dedicated almost $500,000 to the renovation of the existing plant and in the summer of 1981 the school was air conditioned at a cost of $230,000.
Classes for the mild mentally handicapped and learning disabled were added to the curriculum during 1982-83. At the same time the Fatima High School department consolidated with Cathedral-Carmel High School to form St. Thomas More High School. The move allowed Fatima to begin expanding to four sections of grades K-8 to meet the growing demands for quality Catholic education.
In 1986 and again in 1990 Fatima School earned the “Excellence in Education Award” from the U. S. Department of Education. Of the 10,000 plus elementary schools in the nation, Fatima was one of only 272 to be given this honor. Fatima was the only Catholic school in the nation to receive this honor for the second time.
In January, 1988, construction began on a facility to replace the existing temporary buildings. The 3,600 square foot building was constructed behind the existing second grade wing and scheduled for occupancy for the 1988-89 school year. The thirty year old temporary buildings were removed from the campus during the summer of 1988. The cost of the project was $223,000.
In 1990, Mr. And Mrs. John E. Chance donated $2 Million in memory of their son, John E. Chance, II. The gift was used to help fund the greatest, most extensive remodeling project in the history of the school. The project began in 1996 with the building of a brand new gymnasium in the area of the campus known as the backfield. Phase II included the renovation of the old gymnasium into the Cafetorium (cafeteria/auditorium), new kitchen and administrative offices. Following the completion of this phase, a new building entry including a beautiful rotunda and a more playful juvenile facade on the exterior of the building was added. Three new Pre-K classrooms were completed. The final phase of the project was to convert the old cafeteria into the new state of the art library, add an elementary computer lab, a junior high computer lab, and new teacher’s lounge. In 1999, the final phases of the project were completed. It included converting the second floor (the old library) into the Development Office Suites, renovating all playgrounds, and adding new play and seating areas for students. The total cost for the project was $4.5 Million, the remainder being funded by a joint effort of the School, Foundation, and Parents’ Club.
In 1995, Pre-Kindergarten for student’s age four was added to the curriculum. In the summer of 1999, 3 three additional classrooms were built in preparation for the year 2001, when class sizes were reduced from 32 students in a class, and sections were increased from 3 to the following: Pre-Kindergarten (three sections of 17 students) - Eighth grade (4 sections of 24 students) and the Department for Exceptional Children (one section of 10 mild mentally handicapped students). In 1995, enrollment was nearly 900 students.
By 1998, the asphalt playgrounds were covered with rubberized safe surfacing, and all of the old wooden play structures were replaced with new equipment that meets all safety standards. In 2001, the backfield was dedicated to Coach Phil Stoma and named Stoma Field. We also added a new fitness course and track. As part of our campus beautification initiative, we added small memorial gardens, statues, trees and benches throughout the campus. In 2003, the old band house was renovated and turned into the new elementary science lab. The lab was operational with a science lab instructor in 2004. In 2004-2005, we continued to aggressively pursue technology in our classrooms. Goals have been met for increasing the number of computers per classroom. Adding two mobile computer lab units, Promethean boards in all science labs, and equipping each teacher with laptops continue to be our focus.
From 2006-2008, the church and school added Knight Hall to its facility. Through the generous donation of the Eddy Knight Family the school and church share a beautiful hall which includes an atrium, conference room, state of the art auditorium, terrace, meeting hall, full kitchen, coffee bar and chapel. Also, included in this addition was a covered walkway, which is ideal for those rainy days and for keeping the children safe. Over 1000 bricks were sold to grandparents, parents, parishioners, and alumni to line the pathway. In 2008, “The Bishop Provost’s Pathway to Christ” was dedicated to Bishop Glen Provost for his years of service to the school and church. Also in 2008, the Our Lady of Fatima School Foundation had a phenomenal year in its Blue and Gold Campaign and raised over $175,000 for the technology program. With these funds, the school was able to replace outdated computers and put 84 new computers in the classrooms and computer lab and added the latest educational technology, three Interactive Whiteboards. The Fatima Channel was also introduced in 2008, due to a generous donation from the Stuller Family Foundation. Thus, all classrooms were networked with cable TV and the Media Center to broadcast via the “Fatima Channel.”
In 2009-2010 school year Fatima proudly opened its 4th Pre-K class. Three junior high classrooms are outfitted with a MAC mobile laptop unit. In March of 2010 the school celebrated 65 years of Fatima school with a year filled with events to bring back alumni and involve the community.
After a large effort on behalf of the 2011 Blue and Gold campaign, every classroom was outfitted with an Interactive Whiteboard and both computer labs were updated with the most current MAC computers.
A major upgrade in the OLF website took place in 2012- 2013, which helped the parents stay better informed and have access to documents, calendars and important school information. With the link to Renweb, parents were able to check grades, homework and schedules quickly and efficiently. In January of 2013 the school celebrated 30 years of the Department of Exceptional children. Also, ipad centers were incorporated into the classroom. In the fall of 2013, the beautiful statue of Mary was put back in the center/front of school and a St. Anne statue was placed to the right of the school in honor of all Fatima grandparents.
In 2014, an effort to support the vast amount of technology on campus was put in place with an infrastructure rebuild which included new servers, wireless control systems and new wireless access points in 4th-8th grade. Safety on campus became a priority and cameras and two visitor check-in kiosks were installed. Also, the receptionist area was moved into the back, center of the rotunda. The Booster Club, along with Athletic department, raised funds to install a wooden floor in the gym. Several new elective classes were added includinging Fitness for Life, Robotics and Campus Ministry.
In the summer of 2015, all Pre-K through 4th grade classrooms were outfitted with additional iPads and MacBooks. Shade sails were installed on the Pre-K-K and 1st and 2nd grade playgrounds. Also, acoustical soundboards were placed in Chance Hall.
In 2015-2016 the school celebrated 65 years of Our Lady of Fatima Catholic School. It culminated with a large alumni reunion and gym floor dedication. The Mothers’ Day Out Program changed to a Pre-K 3 program for the 2016-2017 school year with 2 sections of 12 students with two full time teachers and part time certified aids. The application process for all grades except Pre-K 3 were available on line beginning in November of 2015. During the Academic Enrichment week, “Miracle Machine, Study of the Human Body, the students and faculty made decorative stepping stones and a rosary garden was added to the back field in May of 2016. In the summer of 2016, the school and church resurfaced the parking lot and added landscaping, proper drainage and lighting. More covered walkways were added also.
In 2018-2019 school year, our one-to-one MacBook Air program began, and we started the process of becoming an Apple Distinguished School, with 100% of our faculty becoming Apple Teacher Certified. In 2019-2020, we add a third PreK3 class and continue technology upgrades with Apple TVs or interactive white boards in all classrooms.
The school has continued on its path to grow, change, and advance in order to keep the facility up-to-date and current in all aspects and to provide the best possible education to students both now and in the future.