St. Agnes History

 

St. Agnes School History

St. Agnes Parish was established by Bishop James Ryan on October 1, 1888. It was the fifth Catholic parish in Springfield, at that time, a city of 33,000 people. The new parish was to serve the area south of Carpenter Street and west of the Chicago and Alton Railroad lines and consisted of 180 families.

The first Parish school was built and began in September 1897 in a framed building of the former Seventh Day Adventist Day Church located on the corner of Spring and Monroe Streets in Springfield. There were also two classrooms located at 311 West Capitol for the first and second grades. Three Dominican Sisters of Springfield staffed the school. Five boys and one girl made up the first graduating class in 1902. A new school was completed in 1913 on the corner of Capitol and Pasfield Streets at a cost of $54,000. This building served the parish until the present school was built at 251 North Amos. The new school opened in the fall of 1981 under the leadership of Monsignor Patrick Wright.

Over the years, St. Agnes School has continued an ongoing relationship with the Dominican Sisters of Springfield. However, from 1986 through 2003, St. Agnes was under the direction of a lay principal. In 2003, the Dominican Sisters resumed leadership.

The current school has continually been updated to meet the needs of our growing Parish community. In 1988 four new classrooms were added. During the summer of 2006 reconstruction within the building allowed for additional classroom space, an Art Room, Speech and Language rooms and the addition of the Preschool Program.

In the fall of 2006, St. Agnes School celebrated “25 Years on Amos Avenue.” Parties and open houses were held for parish and school families. A pictorial history was displayed documenting graduates as well as activities and events of the past 25 years. Alumni and former staff returned for an all school liturgy and program held in the gym.

In the summer of 2008 a new science lab was constructed within an existing 7th grade classroom. The science lab allows for hands on learning environment. The new lab’s capabilities have enhanced the study of Science at St. Agnes.

During the summer of 2009 fiber optics was extended throughout the entire school. The computer lab was updated with new Dell computers, and SMART boards were introduced to various classrooms. The library was also automated and four new computers were added to that area as well. And, new air conditioning units were added to cool the entire school.

“Tech Connect” was the goal for the summer of 2010. Sixty-two (three per classroom) Optiplex 960 Dell computers replaced the outdated classroom computers. A $40,000 grant from Susan Cook House and special project money for the 2010 Auction enabled the purchase and installation of nineteen SMARTBoards and a SMARTTable for preschool. Training was conducted with staff to initiate the use of the Rediker/Edline Communications package. Teachers will use this program for attendance and communicating to parents weekly grades and daily assignments.

The 2010-2011 St. Agnes Annual Fund “Renew for a New Year” focused on curriculum enhancement and physical facility improvements. The wooden playground was replaced with a playground name “PeaceBuilders” Place. The six principles of the PeaceBuilder Program will be displayed on placards around the “Playworld” equipment. A $5,000 grant was secured for this project from the Susan Cook House Foundation and Annual Fund. New Jr. High desks and chairs were placed in three classrooms and paid for through the Auction proceeds. Science Kits were purchased from Grade K-6 with the assistance of the Auction and Parents’ Club. A new website for the Parish and School was launched in December.

“Strengthening Foundation for our Future” was the theme of the 2011-2012 Annual Fund Drive. The success of this drive, the Parish/School Auction and a generous donor provided for the upgrade of the school security system, enhancement of the air conditioning system and the purchase of up-to-date Social Studies and reference materials.

Phase 2 of the “PeaceBuilder Place” playground was completed in the summer and fall months of 2012. A memorial brick walkway was constructed around the playground equipment area. Landscaping, benches and an archway with the name: “PEACEBUILDER PLACE” and the six principles of the PeaceBuilder Program was constructed. A framed copy of the school’s Mission Statement with the Spirit logo was hung at four of the school entranceways.

The theme for the 2012-2013 school year was “All Are Welcome.” St. Agnes welcomed 44 St. Joseph students since their school had closed at the end of the last school year. Representative St. Joseph parents served on the St. Agnes School Board and the Parents’ Club. Representative students were a part of the Student Council. In December, the PeaceBuilder playground was dedicated and blessed after the installment of the first set of Memorial bricks.

During the summer of 2013, profits from the Auction and the Annual Fund allowed for the replacement of “fogged” windows throughout the building and the painting of the gym. An envelope for tuition assistance was added with the Parish envelopes to provide additional support for families who want their children to receive a Catholic education.

St. Agnes participated in January and February of 2013 with the other Catholic Elementary Schools in a new Strategic Plan for the Springfield Area Catholic Elementary Schools.

The theme for the 2013-1014 school year was “125 Years of Faith.”  In November, our Parish celebrated with a special 125th anniversary Mass and reception.  Ten new computers were installed in the Computer Lab and the 10 from the lab rotated into classrooms.  The Fund-a-Project from the Auction allowed for the purchase of 30 new tablets for classroom use.  A $6,773 grant from the Susan Cook House Foundation and support from the Parents’ Club funded new Math textbooks for grades 6-8.  The Annual Fund provided funds for a new Reading program for grades K-5.

The theme for the 2014-2015 Annual Fund was “Communities of Faith, Knowledge and Service.”  Many supported our St. Agnes school activities and strengthened our community with their gifts and talents.  The Long-Range Planning Committee revised the Crisis Management Plan and planned for the security updates that were completed during the summer of 2015. This project included the installation of new locks on all outside doors, a monitored computer system with the use of key fobs for staff and coaches entering the building, new cameras at the front doors and on the north side of the building and an automatic latch release for the gym doors to be used by the Late Day staff.  These updates were possible with funds from the Auction, the Annual Fund, donations and a grant of $20,000 from the Susan Cook House Foundation. Through the Annual Fund and Technology fee, 10 new computers were added to the Lab, 2 new servers installed and 4 new administrative computers.

“Reflect God’s Goodness: Stand Together for Justice” was the theme for the 2015-2016 school year.  At the end of this school year, Les Pope, who had been head of maintenance for 27 years retired.  A tree was planted in his honor near the tennis courts.  Matt Lael was hired to assume this position.  Two grants were received.  One from the Susan Cook House Foundation for $8,000 toward the new Quaver Music Program.  The second grant was from the Community Foundation for the Land of Lincoln for $7,000 for the new sixth grade literature books.

St. Agnes Parish and School are committed to Catholic education and to your children. We are blessed by God with a truly caring and supportive Catholic faith community.