This is the history of St. Mary High, Cape Catholic High, Notre Dame High, and Notre Dame Regional High School.
Boys & Girls Academies
Before the founding of St. Mary High School, the Catholic youth of this area studied at the historic college of St. Vincent for boys and the Loretta Academy for girls. St. Vincent’s College was conducted by the Vincentian Fathers, and the Loretta Academy conducted by the Sisters of Loretta.
St. Mary High School
The building, which housed St. Mary High School was the first permanent location of St. Francis Hospital until 1914. In the spring of 1925, Very Reverend Eberhardt Pruente, V.F. purchased this buliding at Sprigg and William Streets for $21,000 and renovated it for use as St. Mary High School. On September 1, 1925, the school opened enrolling 7th, 8th grades, and first year high. Sister Mary Francis was the first teacher.
In 1928 the school was accredited by the State of Missouri. The first class graduated June 9, 1929 with eight students. In 1931, the school nearly closed due to the depression, but Mother Jolendis gave the Sisters permission to teach in the school “gratis”. The school progressed through the 30’s and 40’s in spite of times of war.
Cape Girardeau Catholic High School to Notre Dame High School
This building served as St. Mary High School for twenty-nine years before its capacity could not accomodate the enlarging student body. In 1948, Rev. Theon Schoen, then pastor of St. Mary, began plans for a new and larger high school. Land was purchased between Caruthers and Clark Avenue from the Wulfers family for a new Catholic High School. A ground breaking ceremony was held on June 21, 1953 for a new building that would accommodate between 350 to 400 students. The new Cape Girardeau Catholic High School opened on September 13, 1954 with an enrollment of 211 students. The school changed it’s name to Notre Dame High School in 1960. In 1962 Notre Dame received accreditation from the North Central Association of Secondary Schools and Colleges.
Notre Dame Established as a Regional High School
In 1995 it was determined that the building was no longer serving the needs of the school community and a capital campaign began to construct a new high school off Route K. The new campus opened in August, 1998 on land donated by the James and Wanda Drury Family Trust. The school was built to accommodate 600 students. The school was renamed Notre Dame Regional High School in conjunction with the school’s broad enrollment. Today Notre Dame Regional High School is the largest private high school between St. Louis and Memphis. It has grown to an enrollment of over 500 students.
Notre Dame Regional High School wouldn’t be where it is today without the dedicated School Sisters of Notre Dame and the Franciscan Brothers of Brooklyn.