OUR LADY OF FATIMA HISTORY: 1948 - 2021
In 1948 Msgr. Michael J. Benedict had the great idea to create a new Catholic Church parish and school and name 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, which was designed by Harold J. Lagroue, Jr. The contract was given to the general contracting firm of Romero and Theall for $212,000. On the feast of the Most Holy Rosary, October 7, 1951, Bishop Jules 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 worshipers. 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 Our Lady of Fatima School for many years. One of her successors was Sister Alexander Deanna Fouin, M.H.S. a native Fatima parishioner elected in 1977 as Major Superior of the Sisters of the Most Holy Sacrament.
As Our Lady of Fatima School grew, annexes were added. The first annex housed six classrooms, serving grades one through seven at a cost of $72,000; the second annex had eight classrooms, serving grades one through seven at a cost of $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 later move into a new church allowed the use of the gymnasium for active scheduling of sporting events. The athletic program not only provided physical fitness for all students but also spawned dedicated athletes with the skills and motivation to win. These athletes built school spirit and pride.
In 1980, with student enrollment approaching 1,000, eight new classrooms were designed and constructed by J.L. Andrus at a cost of $210,000. Our Lady of 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 Our Lady of Fatima High School consolidated with Cathedral-Carmel High School to form St. Thomas More High School.
The move allowed Our Lady of 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, Our Lady of 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, Our Lady of Fatima was one of only 272 to be given this honor. Our Lady of Fatima was the only Catholic school in the nation to receive this honor for the second time.
In January of 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 was ready 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 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), the new kitchen, and the new 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 also completed. The final phase of the project was to convert the old cafeteria into the new, state of the art library, to add an elementary computer lab and a junior high computer lab, and to add a 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, which was, in part, funded by a joint effort of the school, the Foundation, and the Parents’ Club.
In 1995, Pre-K4 was added to the curriculum. In the summer of 1999, three additional classrooms were built in preparation for the 2000 school year in order to reduce class sizes from 32 students per class to 24 students per class in grades kindergarten through eighth and 17 students per class in pre-kindergarten. Sections of all grade levels were increased from three to four and the Department for Exceptional Children included one section of 10 mild mentally handicapped students. In 1995, enrollment was at 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 met all safety standards. In 2001, the backfield was dedicated to Coach Phil Stoma and named Stoma Field. In addition, a new fitness course and track were added. As part of the campus beautification initiative, small memorial gardens, statues, trees, and benches were added throughout the campus. In 2003, the old band house was renovated and turned into the new elementary science lab. The lab became operational with a science lab instructor in 2004. In 2004-2005, a push to aggressively pursue technology in the classrooms began. Two mobile computer lab units, Promethean boards in all science labs, and laptop computers for all teachers were the 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 adoration chapel. Also included in this addition was a covered walkway to keep students, faculty, and visitors safe and dry on rainy days. 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. During this same year, 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 labs and add the latest educational technology, including interactive whiteboards, throughout the school.
The Fatima Channel was also introduced in 2008 thanks to a generous donation from the Stuller Family Foundation. Thus, all classrooms were networked to broadcasts via the Fatima Channel.
For the 2009-2010 school year, Fatima proudly opened its 4th Pre-K4 class and had an enrollment of 916 students. For the 2016-2017 school year, Fatima created another addition to the curriculum, adding two Pre-K3 classes, each serving 12 students. In the 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 added a third PreK3 class and continued technology upgrades with Apple TVs or interactive whiteboards in all classrooms. In 2020, iPads and MacBooks were added and our goal of one-to-one Apple technology was achieved. In addition to maintaining Apple Distinguished School status, our technology infrastructure, safety protocols, and programs are updated annually. After years of planning and with the support of many, Fatima Parish and School dedicated our new parking lot in 2023!
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.