Notre Dame is a Catholic all girls college preparatory high school with a 78 year tradition of providing excellent education for young women. Notre Dame means “Our Lady” in French. The high school is adjoined to the Motherhouse for the School Sisters of Notre Dame which is home to over 80 sisters.
Notre Dame High School lives by its mission statement: Responding to the mission of Jesus and the charism of the School Sisters of Notre Dame, the Catholic community of Notre Dame High School empowers its students to become confident, compassionate Christian women leaders. Notre Dame High School provides a strong college preparatory program to young women through an environment of differentiated instruction. The common vision of Notre Dame High School is to educate students toward the integration of lifelong learning, faith and service.
Notre Dame High School’s roots reach back to 1897 when the School Sisters of Notre Dame founded Sancta Maria in Ripa High School, a school for young women who were interested in entering the School Sisters of Notre Dame and had not completed their high school education. In 1925, Sancta Maria received its first accreditation from the North Central Association through the University of Missouri as a four-year high school.
In 1934, in response to parental requests for a high school for young women in South St. Louis, Sancta Maria became Notre Dame High School, open to both day students and aspirants. The first class numbered 30 young women. Classes were held in the Motherhouse of the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
In 1953, the gym and a meeting room were built, followed in 1955 by an L-shaped high school building still in use today. Classes were moved out of the Motherhouse into the new high school. The beginnings of Fall Festival can be found with the Penny Party of the 1950’s. Each of the four classes, plus a candidate from the aspirants (young women interested in becoming an SSND) collected pennies to have their candidate crowned the Penny Queen.
In the late 50’s and early 60’s, the school served a student body of more than 500 young women. The 1960’s brought many changes to the curriculum, including advanced college credit courses, a full-time guidance department, the inauguration of modular scheduling, and more extensive elective courses.
In 1971, Notre Dame’s faculty and administration recognized the need to change from a traditional teacher-centered approach to education to a more student-centered instructional system. Differentiated Instruction began, offering students an individualized approach to education with a current 1:13 teacher-to-student ratio.
With the closing of Notre Dame College in 1977, the high school acquired the use of a second building. Romana Hall was named after S. Romana Hechenberger, SSND who served as principal from 1950-1967. The building houses the school’s science, fine arts and counseling departments.
In January, 1996, a new corporation called Notre Dame Ministry Corporation was formed. Notre Dame High School is now a part of that corporation. In 1999, Notre Dame High School under Administrator S. Georgiann Wildhaber built a new road into the SSND Ripa Complex providing Notre Dame with a safer and more attractive approach to the school.
Today, 100% of Notre Dame High School’s students pursue higher education. Our 7200+ alumnae live and work in 46 states and 8 countries and comprise 30% of our faculty and staff. And, in a time when schools have few religious on their faculty and staff, one in seven of our members is a School Sister of Notre Dame.