Site 4: School

En Español


Saint Ann Catholic School’s history spans over 70 years.  Once the church was complete, the young parish turned to the spiritual and educational needs of its children and launched a “School Fund Campaign.”  Construction began in early 1951 on the first school building and a convent and was finished in time for the opening of school that Fall.

Construction of first school building 1951, seen from main parking lot.  Note first rectory, white house at right.

Sisters of Loretto and school family in front of third school building under construction, 1954.

Four Sisters of Loretto arrived to staff our school in late August.  Grade 1 through 4 opened September 4, 1951 with 289 students.  Kindergarten class, taught by the school’s only lay teacher, was held in Joachim Hall (see History Walk Site 9).

First Grade Class, Opening Day September 4, 1951.

Children board bus for home, early 1950s.

The school’s cornerstone was laid and blessed on September 23, 1951.

First Graduating Class in caps and gowns 1956.

Each year, an additional grade was added, and more sisters arrived to teach. The building was filled to capacity by 1953. A second “middle school” building and a playground were added. The third “junior high” building was completed in 1955, bringing the total number of classrooms to sixteen, with two classes for each grade one through eight.  By the end of the 1950s, there were over 1000 students in our school. School buses provided transportation for those who lived beyond walking distance. The first eighth grade class of 61 students graduated in 1956.

Boy and Girl Scout troops began and CYO sports teams like basketball and track were formed almost as soon as the school opened and have continued ever since, enthusiastically supported by parent leaders, coaches and families.

Girl Scouts Marian Awards Ceremony 1960.

Girl and Brownie Scouts 1999.

Teams for additional sports have been organized by parents and supported by local organizations and businesses, including soccer, baseball, and tennis.

Girls CYO Basketball team 1977.

Saint Ann Boys Baseball Team sponsored by Arlington Optimists, 1978.

Grade 4 Girls Civitan Soccer team 1999.

In 1964, the Sisters of Loretto were called back to Kentucky, and eleven Sisters of Notre Dame from Chardon, Ohio, arrived to take their place.

In 1971, Saint Ann was among the first group of elementary schools to be accredited by the Commonwealth of Virginia.

In the 1970s, the school added lay teachers and a library was added to the main building. The school library previously had been in Joachim Hall. School uniforms were also introduced in the mid ‘70s.

The school continued to adapt to the changing times during the 1980s, adding more lay teachers, extended day services, a preschool, and the Seton Center for student resources. Foreign language classes were introduced. Curriculum was enhanced in science and technology, aided by the purchase of five top-of-the-line computers with funds raised by PTO candy sales!

A new playground for the primary grades was donated by the PTO and built by volunteers donating over 1000 hours in 1985. Running out of classroom space, the school added 3 trailers for Art, Computer, and language classes, and these remained into the mid-90s.

Saint Ann seventh and eighth grade students participated in Shakespeare Festivals at the Folger Theatre in D.C.  School parents led the way in training other diocesan schools to attend as well. Ultimately this program became the Diocesan Shakespeare Festival which continues today.

In 1992, Mr. Austin Poole became the first lay principal. Sisters of Notre Dame continued to teach into the early 2000s, and our last sister, Sr. Mary Doreen Strahler, returned to Ohio in 2002.

In 2011, our school was recognized as a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the United States Department of Education.

Advent Wreath lighting during Covid pandemic, Primary Building 2021.

In March 2020, the school quickly responded to the Covid-19 pandemic by moving to an appropriate distance-learning model for all grade levels including preschool. Students returned for in-person instruction that fall for the 2020-‘21 school year with a variety of modifications to keep students, teachers, and staff healthy. New families have been attracted by our model, and enrollment remains healthy.

School Sock Hop 1999.

There is a strong relationship between our school and parish, and the school auditorium/gym has always served as a function hall for both. Masses were celebrated here during the two years of new church construction. Additional Masses at Christmas and Easter are also held here. Many fundraising galas, receptions, school dances, sock hops, Bingo nights, variety shows, Irish nights, art and science fairs, fun festivals, bazaars, graduation ceremonies, and other happy school and parish events have taken place here.

Altar servers for Christmas Eve Mass in school auditorium 2015.

Parish 70th Anniversary reception, July 2017.

Throughout the years, Saint Ann School has adapted to many changes and continues to thrive. Our school has a strong academic program and remains steadfast in providing a quality Christ-centered education and creating a strong community of faith.

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