St. Mary's School was first opened as a parish school on September 3, 1898, and was dedicated by the second Bishop of Springfield, Thomas Daniel Beaven on October 31 of that same year. Five Sisters of St. Joseph taught the one hundred and fifty children who were first enrolled in Grades 1-8. From that day to the present, there has never been a time when the Sisters of St. Joseph have not been present and ministering at St. Mary's.
In June of 1899, we graduated our first eighth grade class. Nellie Roach, a member of that class was determined to finish her education under the guidance of the Sisters of St. Joseph. Though reluctant, at first, to take on the establishment of a high school, the pastor Fr. James Donahue eventually allowed Nellie to stay at St. Mary's. Nellie became the first graduate of St. Mary's High School in June of 1903.
In 1914 a third floor was added to the building to accommodate the increased enrollment in both schools and to provide facilities for an adequate high school program. The area was designed to include a chemistry lab and typing room.
In the 1920s, two sports, basketball and baseball, were added as extracurricular activities. The sports program has since evolved to include cross country, lacrosse, hockey, tennis, golf, skiing, and soccer. All have done remarkably well over the years.
The following decades saw a tremendous growth in the school population and the classrooms were filled to capacity. Even when the nation began to experience the demise of many Catholic schools in the 1960's and 70's, St. Mary's continued to flourish.
In the 1960s, Saint Mary Parish purchased the Westfield Trade Building to be used as the high school. The conversion of the building was completed in 1963 and the high school became a separate building from the elementary school for the first time in over sixty years.
As a further sign of its commitment to quality Catholic education, St. Mary's completed its program by adding the first Kindergarten in the history of the school. In September of 1979, thirty-six five year olds became members of this first class.
In 1984, the elementary school became the first to complete the opening phase of a diocesan accreditation program. In May of 1986, they would complete the entire process. In 1984, the high school would hire its first lay principal, Robert Gilbert. A school board was established in December of that year to assist the pastor and administration in governance and planning. In 1987, the high school returned to religious leadership when Sister Maureen Sheehan, SSJ, became principal. But the elementary school hired its first lay principal that year, Carol Kapinos, who would serve until 1995.
Improvements are constantly being made. In 1998-99 the school converted the old typing room into a new computer lab. The room also functioned as the central location for the computer system, the server, and the connectors for all the rooms wired to the internet preparing our school for the 21st Century learning our students deserved.
Both the elementary and high schools were accredited by the New England Association of School and Colleges (NEASC). The elementary school in 2004 and the high school in 2006.
At the beginning of 2007, the yellow house next to the high school was purchased. That fall, the first floor would see the first class of a preschool for four year olds. The second floor housed the high school’s art studio. Two years later, the art studio moved back to the high school so that the preschool could be expanded to two classes. In 2008, the high school underwent a major transition with the retirement of Paul Romani as principal. He was an alumnus who returned as a history teacher in the late 1970s, becoming principal in the fall of 1998 and his retirement seemed as an end of an era.
In 2010, the Library/Media Center of the high school was relocated to a newly refurbished space in the basement next to the Chemistry Lab. Two new classrooms were built in the former Library space: a regular classroom and a new Art Studio. In the fall of 2012, a new building was built behind the yellow house, which became a preschool for three year olds.
In the fall of 2013, the elementary and the high schools combined to form one school "Saint Mary's Parish School," encompassing the preschool all the way up through high school under a single administration. Nicole Nietsche become the first Head of School leading the way for new transitions.
In 2015-2016, we implemented a one-to-one laptop computer program for all our students in grades 6-12. Each teacher has both a conventional desktop computer with classroom projectors, as well as laptop computers. Smart Boards were installed in Elementary School. The high school library was merged with the elementary library to make room for offices for the Director of Technology and the Advancement Director.
The school has produced outstanding students who, in competition with much larger organizations have brought fame and victory to St. Mary's in every field of endeavor. Graduates have succeeded in industry, business, education, medicine, politics and religion. The current administration and faculty seek to uphold that fine tradition and spirit which is St. Mary's. We also seek to expand the reason for our founding: the spreading of the Gospel of Jesus and the truths and traditions of the Catholic Church. With our wonderful history, we have only to trust that we will also have a wonderful future.