The Story of St. Frances Cabrini School
"You have no money, no property, no place to live. God bless you and goodbye."
These were the words given to Fr. Andrew J. Squier by Archbishop Thomas A. Connolly in 1952 as Fr. Squier was commissioned to start St. Frances Cabrini parish and school. Much work was accomplished between those words and the beginning of classes on September 21, 1953.
January 18, 1952: The Archbishop of Seattle, responding to local requests, formed a new Catholic parish in rapidly expanding post-war Lakewood. He dedicated that parish in memory of the first American saint, Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini.
January 27, 1952: First mass for the new faith community was celebrated in the gym of Visitation Villa, a school for girls, that stood on the current site of the Lakewood Towne Center. The celebrant tasked with building both community and buildings was Reverend Andrew J. Squier.
Throughout 1953: The sounds of hammers and saws and concrete trucks marked dreams coming true. Families watched with hope and joy as buildings took shape on an unpaved, unmarked dirt road near the center of the sprawling suburb.
September 10, 1953: Sisters of the Holy Names arrived at Visitation Villa. They stayed with Visitation Villa sisters until the Cabrini convent was completed.
September 16, 1953: The sisters prepared their classrooms; the new textbooks were laid out and shellacked on the gym floor.
September 21, 1953: Opening day for the new St. Frances Cabrini School. It was a rewarding milestone day for those charter members of our founding faith community who were determined to have a Catholic parish and school. Meeting notes from organizing committees and the founding pastor Fr. Andrew Squier show their dedication to having a school to provide a faith-centered education in an atmosphere of love and respect. That dedication still remains vibrantly alive today in the spirit of Cabrini School.
Statistics from first year of school: 6 Sisters, 147 boys and 137 girls.
December 13, 1953: First mass was celebrated in the original Cabrini Church. Another milestone reached. Archbishop Thomas Connolly dedicated a space that was to remain the faith community's place of worship for the next 46 years.
May 31, 1956: First 8th grade graduation (When the school opened there were only grades 1 through 6).
1959-1961: Eight more classrooms were added - two for each grade.
1968-69: Peak enrollment: 720 Students, 12 Sisters; Third largest school in the Archdiocese of Seattle.
In the 70's things changed again. Catholic schools all over the nation experienced decreased enrollment and financial difficulties. Religious communities changed their focus to other ministries. Therefore, there were fewer sisters to teach in the schools. With a transition to primarily lay faculties, costs increased dramatically, posing economic challenges to parents and parish communities.
1970’s: Under the direction of Mrs. Dotty McDaniel, our Cabrini students excelled in speech tournaments held at Bellarmine.
1972: CYO sports program began in Pierce County. SFC earns many trophies.
1977: A visionary group, including Mrs. Hanel, established an Endowment for SFC
1986: Closure of St Frances Cabrini Convent; Kindergarten opened.
1990’s: Renovation of school library; new buildings added for Pre-Kindergarten, Extended Care, science and computer lab.
1993: A New Tuition Concept was introduced called Fair Share. It sought to establish a means of financial planning that would assure continued enrollment through tuition assistance to those families in need and asked families who were able to pay the full cost of education.
December 5, 1999: Dedication of a new church for St. Frances Cabrini Parish
2001: Major renovation and seismic upgrade of the main building
2002: St. Frances Cabrini Parish celebration of 50th Anniversary of its founding
2003: St. Frances Cabrini School celebrates 50th year
2005: St. Frances Cabrini is Accredited by the Northwest Association of Accredited Schools and the Western Catholic Educational Association and the Northwest Accreditation Association.
2009-11: Hours of meetings as parents, parishioners and staff work to complete the school's self-study in preparation for renewing Acceditation status.
2011: Cabrini School completes its self-study and receives high accolades for its quality community, faith development, and academic excellence. Accreditation is renewed until 2017.
After 22 years, Stephanie Van Leuven, Principal since 1989, retires. Ian Home is selected as the new principal.
2013: For 60 years, thousands of students have come and gone, friendships have been made and remembered; lives have been lived, shared and changed. Awards and trophies have been earned. Much learning has occurred. As the spirit of Cabrini continues, our teachers will continue to provide quality Catholic education and guide children to become men and women of integrity and faith.