The St. Frances Cabrini Academy Story
In September 1935 St. Wenceslaus built their parish school, which featured 10 rooms with an adjoining convent to accommodate 10 sisters. By 1948 the school was occupied by 525 students, 9 sisters and 2 lay teachers. Due to overcrowding the school added on classrooms and a complete cafeteria, by the end of 1954.
During the sixties, people began moving to the suburbs and the number of parishioners and school aged children started to decline. St. Francis de Sales and St. Wenceslaus experienced a decline in student enrollment and teaching sisters. The School Sisters of Notre Dame generously made the commitment to staff a consolidated school with teaching sisters. So in 1972 parishioners from four parishes voted to consolidate, not just for survival but with the goal to provide an inclusive quality education.
St. Wenceslaus School closed its doors in 1972 and re-opened as Notre Dame Elementary West. Notre Dame West served grades six to eight from four parishes – St. Agatha, St. Agnes, St. Francis De Sales and St. Wenceslaus. For the first four years, grades first to fifth were located in St. Francis De Sales School building which was named Notre Dame East. In 1972 the School Board of Notre Dame Elementary decided they should have parent involvement and so the first Parent-Teacher Organization was created. It wasn’t until the 1973-1974 school year that Notre Dame had a Kindergarten class. During this school year enrollment declined farther and it was no longer efficient to operate two school buildings. By 1974 it was decided to further consolidate the schools into Notre Dame Elementary to be located in Notre Dame West/St. Wenceslaus’ school building.
In 1981 the percentage of non-Catholics and Catholic children outside of the consolidation increased. This signified that Notre Dame Elementary was not only important to the parishes but to the surrounding South St. Louis city. It became apparent that the school had become a viable choice for non-Catholic and Catholic alike. The realization that Notre Dame was an important educational institution in South City drove the school to enhance their goals and focus on inclusive quality education. It was in the 1982-1983 school year that Notre Dame purchased its first computer. In 1986 Sts. Peter and Paul and St. Vincent de Paul parish joined Notre Dame Elementary – with this addition six parishes now made up the School. During the 1990 – 1991 school year Notre Dame Elementary improved on their quality education goal by adding a computer lab and a school chapel.
St. Pius V was the last Catholic Parish School to consolidate in June 2003, ending 98 years of Catholic education provided by the parish. With the permission of Archbishop Justin Rigali, St. Pius V Grade School consolidated with Notre Dame Elementary to form St. Frances Cabrini Academy.
In the 2015 – 2016 school year St. Frances Cabrini Academy installed air conditioning and Smartboards in every classroom due to the generosity of benefactors. Serving grades Kindergarten through Eighth, St. Frances Cabrini Academy is recognized now as a diverse Catholic grade school, which provides an inclusive quality education to all.