Our Lady of Lourdes School opened on September 4, 1962, with seventy-two students in Kindergarten through fourth grade. The following year grades five and six were added; grades seven and eight were added in the next two years. Because of space constraints and because the state of Florida didn’t require Kindergarten attendance at this time, the Kindergarten program was dropped.
The founding parish pastor Monsignor William W. DuBois served as principal with a staff of lay teachers until August, 1965 when five Sisters of Notre Dame from Chardon, Ohio, arrived to help staff the school. There were 205 students at this time.
From 1965-1994, six Sisters of Notre Dame served as principals of our school. In June, 1994, Our Lady of Lourdes had its first lay principal. The transition was smooth with the spirit and traditions of the school continuing as strongly as ever.
To accommodate the increased enrollment of the school, portable buildings and a trailer were purchased in 1965. The trailer was used as a library until 1977. Two of the portables, which were located on the site of the present grades 5-8 portion of the school building, were used for twelve years for grades 1-4; the other two portables were used for lavatories, a teacher work room, and an art room. The art room was converted to a science room in 1972 when a full time science teacher was hired.
When the new church was completed in 1977, grades 5-8 were moved into the new classrooms in the old church building and grades 1-4 were moved into the former 5-8 classrooms. The portable buildings were then used once again for art, which had been taught in the classrooms in recent years and for tutoring programs or as meeting rooms. Kindergarten was reintroduced to the program and held in one of the portables. In 1978, one of the portables was remodeled to be used as a library/media center while the trailer which had been purchased in 1965 for use as a library was remodeled for tutoring and for a gifted program called Alpine (Advanced Procedures in New Learning Endeavors).
In 1980, to accommodate construction for a new building which would house grades 5-8, lavatories, dressing rooms for P.E. , and a teachers’ room, the portables were relocated to the site where our new office wing is now located. The corridor of the original building was closed in so that the new classrooms could be connected to the original building to form one unit. The vacated classrooms in the old church were converted to a large kitchen, a science room, a music room, and a media center.
In 1988, the music room was converted to a computer room. The portables were once again used for art and music. A resource teacher was added to the staff to head the Seton Center Program for the Learning Disabled and the Gifted. In addition to using the Alpine trailer, renamed Seton Center, the resource teacher used an area in the portables for small group work.
Kindergarten remained in the portables. In 1992, an EC4 program was added and located in the portable that had once been the library. A portable classroom that had been purchased in 1989 from the parish for a guidance office with a part-time guidance counselor was located with the Seton Center on a walkway just outside the grades 7 and 8 entrance to the building.
The portables were torn down in 1995 to make way for the new office wing of the building which was joined to the Cafeteria. The new office area includes a reception area, a conference room and offices for the administrative staff. Also included in this wing are Kindergarten, EC4, Advanced Math, and art and music classrooms.
Our sports program began in the fall of 1968 with the clearing of some property to provide for athletic fields. The Athletic Booster Club funded a new baseball diamond and football field in 1969. The boosters also provided coaches and funds to hire physical education teachers.
In 1988-89, the PFA sponsored the redesign and improvement of the play areas. A new developmental piece of equipment designed by USF was built by parent volunteers.
In July of 1997, the school converted the old school office building into a computer lab. Twenty computers were installed, and students visit the computer lab at various times in the week for technology instruction. In addition to computers in the lab, in 2004 all teachers were issued their own laptop computer.
The Father Conmy Center was built in 2004 for the parish and school community. The large multi-purpose building is used for PE classes, theatre productions, school assemblies, and sporting events. The parish utilizes the building for a multitude of activities including annual Saints & Sinners Ball, a formal auction and gala to benefit the children of our school.
In the spring of 2007, the school library underwent a complete renovation. New windows, ceiling, flooring, shelves, tables and chairs were added. The library is now a beautiful, tranquil place enjoyed by all.
Thanks to the generosity of patrons at the Saints & Sinners Ball, new playground equipment was purchased and installed in subsequent years, 2010 and 2011. The new play equipment caters to the variety of age and interest groups of our student body.
During the summers of 2011 and 2012, many renovations took place on the school buildings. With the generous philanthropy of the Kramer Bequest, the entire North Building received new windows and exterior doors during the summer of 2011. Additionally, the bathrooms and locker rooms underwent a huge transformation with brand new amenities, tile, and paint. The entire parking lot was resurfaced in 2011, and the following summer underwent additional construction during a drainage project.
In 2012, the North Building received a beautiful makeover! All classrooms received new paint and floors in addition to several new white boards and bulletin boards. When the construction finished on that building, our pastor Father Gary and principal Mr. Fulford decided to re-name the building, “The Dorothy Kramer Building,” in memory of the remarkable woman who’s bequest enabled these wonderful changes.
The summer of 2012 also brought the addition of two new classrooms to Our Lady of Lourdes. Crews brought in two portable classrooms to the courtyard area just north of the playground to house the expanded Kindergarten and EC4 classes. The expansion brought a new philosophy to our Early Childhood programs, with students rotating between multiple classrooms, enabling greater small-group instruction with classroom activities.
During the fall of 2011, OLL launched an innovative technology initiative aimed at bringing classroom technology into the hands of our students. The One-to-One iPad Pilot Program gave each student in sixth grade class his or her own iPad for school use. Middle School teachers implemented the tool as supplemental instruction to coordinate with our curriculum, and students use the technology for note taking, test taking, and everything in between. In the fall of 2012, OLL expanded the program to include all of Middle School on the One-to-One plan, as well as incorporate iPads into EC4, Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 5 for small group and centers work. The iPad Program at OLL gives students a unique educational experience that empowers self-directed, realtime learning. With access to limitless resources and creative ways to demonstrate knowledge, students are on their way to discovering passions and skills that will propel them towards careers of the future.
While our school has continued to change and evolve over the course of fifty years, many constants have remained. In the hearts of our pastors, priests, and administrators remains the call of the Good Shepherd, a welcoming and compassionate spirit that attracts new members to our community and affirms those who have grown up at our parish. In the hearts of our teachers and staff remains the gentleness and patience to educate each individual according to his or her own needs. In the hearts of our parents and community remains the faith and trust in Catholic education as the greatest method of formation in Christ. And in the hearts of our students remains the joy of the Risen Christ, for as he told his disciples, “Let the children come to me, and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (Matthew 16:14).