Old Church School
History of St. Anthony-Immaculate Conception School
In 1876 Mother Pia Backes and two other Dominican Sisters boarded a train in New York heading for San Francisco to teach the German immigrant children of the Mission District. In 1894, in collaboration with the Franciscan Friars of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Mother Pia opened St. Anthony Elementary School on Precita Avenue.
As the enrollment increased, more Sisters arrived. In 1902 the enrollment required that the school building be enlarged.
In the 1940s, it was decided that a new school building would be built. The new school was built with the help of many parishioners and was dedicated by Archbishop Mitty in 1950. The original school building was lifted off its foundation and turned 90 degrees to face Shotwell Street. The new school building housed grades 1-8, a library, nurse’s office and cafeteria/auditorium. In the same year, St. Anthony Elementary School also welcomed its first lay teacher.
In 1957, the Dominican Sisters opened Immaculate Conception Elementary School two blocks up the hill from St. Anthony Elementary School on Treat Avenue to educate the Italian immigrant children of the neighborhood.
Enrollment remained strong at both schools in the mid-1990s. In 1998, then Archbishop Levada, closed Immaculate Conception parish, a national parish for the Italian community . IC continued to be open as a chapel of St. Anthony Parish. However, one parish cannot have two schools and the Archdiocese recommended merging both schools, forming St. Anthony-Immaculate Conception School. Both campuses, Treat (ICE) and Precita (SAS) were used to educate the more than 500 students. As enrollment decreased in the early 2000s, use of the Treat Campus was discontinued, and in 2002 all classes were held on the Precita Campus.
In 2008 the Dominican Sisters, who had run the school for over 100 years, withdrew their administration of SAIC. We remain a Dominican Affiliate School, carrying on the charism of the Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose. SAIC began the 2008-2009 school year with its first lay principal.
As times change, one thing remains constant: the mission of Mother Pia Backes lives in the students, teachers, staff and administration. The rigorous and nurturing educational environment that she and the Dominican Sisters began in 1894 continues.
Principals of St. Anthony-Immaculate Conception School
1998-2001 S. Carol Ward
2001-2008 S. Carolyn Marie Monahan
2008-2011 Mr. Dennis Ruggiero
2012-2014 Mr. Miguel Martinez '91
2014- Ms. Barbara Moodie
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