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. The Archdiocese decided to merge both schools, forming St. Anthony-Immaculate Conception School. Both campuses were used to house the more than 500 students. Enrollment began to decrease in the early 2000s, so SAIC stopped using the Treat (ICE) campus in 2002 and all classes were held in the main building.
In 2008 the Dominican Sisters, who had run the school for over 100 years, withdrew their physical presence at the school, although it remains a Dominican Affiliate School. SAIC began the 2008-2009 school year with its first lay principal. Enrollment has increased and continues to increase. SAIC invested $70,000 and added a state-of-the-art computer lab in 2009. The gymnasium has been repainted in the school colors. The schoolyard was re-surfaced. The St. Joseph Building (“Kinder Building”) has been remodeled for the opening of Junior Kinder and the move of Kindergarten back to that building. A new website was designed. All signs point towards a positive future for SAIC!
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- Mr. Miguel Martinez ’91