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School History

St. Clare's Church, Great Kills, Staten Island, was originally a Mission of St. Patrick's Church, Richmondtown, during 1918-1925. The Presentation Sisters began St. Clare's religious education program in a rented hall on Giffords Lane in 1922, and planning soon began for a parish school.

On September 14, 1936, after a cost of approximately $175,000 despite the burden of the Great Depression, St. Clare School opened its doors on Lindenwood Road, staffed by the devoted Presentation Sisters. The main floor housed four classrooms and a gym/auditorium that doubled as a lunchroom (seating capacity 700). The second floor contained four more classrooms as well as a Teacher's Lunchroom and Principal's Office.

St. Clare School recorded a milestone in the spring of 1938 when a class of sixteen students became its first graduates. By the following year, the Senior Class had swelled to include 28 students. The Mothers' Club (1945) and Fathers' Club (1950) soon became active organizations supporting the School.

During the mid-1950s, Great Kills grew at an extraordinary rate, and the newly approved Narrows Bridge (today's Verrazano) was sure to bring even more residents to Staten Island from Brooklyn. The time had come to move ahead on expanding the parish facilities. In February 1956, the Mansfield House and property, adjacent to the Church, were purchased to serve as the site for the new Church and the expanded School.

Construction preparations involved relocating classes to make way for the School's new wing, as well as physically moving the old Church (today's Chapel) to allow space for the new Church's foundation. By September 1959, the School addition was ready for students. The three-story annex, faced in brick and limestone, doubled the capacity of the School by adding ten classrooms and a fully equipped cafeteria. Finally, it seemed, there was enough space to accommodate the student body. The new St. Clare Church and the expanded School were officially blessed and dedicated on May 22, 1960, by Francis Cardinal Spellman, followed by the Presentation Convent in April 1964.

St. Clare's challenges of the 1960s were met head-on. The Second Vatican Council brought about many important reforms for the Church and its education programs. In 1965, there was an integration of St. Clare's male and female students, who had been taught in separate parts of the School for years.

In 1987, more construction ensued, creating the Hicks Center to meet the growing needs of St. Clare students. This new wing of the School building included a library, computer lab, science room, and offices.

June 2004 saw, with the retirement of Sister Rosemary Ward, the end of the long and dedicated service of the Presentation Sisters at St. Clare School. The selfless service of these good women helped to make St. Clare the school of excellence that it is today, and their contributions will never be forgotten.

As science and technology aspects were greatly modernized for the 21st Century, St. Clare was named a "Catholic School of Tomorrow for Innovations in Education" in 2008, one of only twelve schools nationwide. Then in 2011, St. Clare School marked its 75th Anniversary with events including a pair of special Masses celebrated by Father Edmund Dobbin (Class of 1949) and Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

Centered on a strong Catholic foundation, St. Clare School continues to provide a solid education based on New York State Standards and the archdiocesan Safe Environment Program. From pre-kindergarten through 8th grade, boys and girls who attend St. Clare are promised a safe and orderly environment in which to learn, as well as a solid education preparing them for their futures.

Principals of Saint Clare School:
1. Mother Mary Dominic, P.B.V.M. (1936-1943)
2. Sister Mary John, P.B.V.M. (1943-1951)
3. Sister Mary Monica, P.B.V.M. (1951-1964)
4. Sister Mary Assisium, P.B.V.M. (1964-1986)
5. Sister Rosemary Ward, P.B.V.M. (1986-2004)
6. Mrs. Jo N. Rossicone (2004-2015)
7. Mrs. Theresa M. Signorile (2015- )

See also:
History of Saint Clare Parish