A Brief History of Saint Francis School

Saint Francis School opened its doors in 1893. It was located on the land now occupied by the church parking lot. The sisters of St. Joseph were placed in charge of the school. During its first decade, the school proved viable and was ready for larger facilities.

A new school, made of Clearfield brick and housing five classrooms; an auditorium; and a kitchen were built at a cost of $20,000. The weekly newspaper, The Clearfield Republican, described it as one of the most modern and comfortable school buildings in the county. Classes began in the new building in November 1904.

In 1908, Sister Marie Francis became the school’s second principal. During her 25 years as principal, the school matured both academically and athletically. Full academic and commercial courses were developed and in 1919, the high school was certified by the Department of Public Instruction.

By the late 1920s, Saint Francis School was ready to expand once again. More classrooms were needed, so the auditorium was sacrificed.

In 1957, a complete overhaul of the building was begun. Five new classrooms, a new library, a new kitchen, two offices, a health suite, a gymnasium/auditorium, and the familiar façade the school has today were all constructed. The necessity of the expansion was highlighted by 1963 enrollment figures which had been the highest in Saint Francis history:  358 grade school students and 141 students in the high school. 

In 1974, many operational and structural changes began. A school uniform was introduced, a kindergarten program was started in 1976, and as an economic necessity, Saint Francis began charging a tuition fee. Structurally, the school began another major construction project. A wing on the south side of the school was built to house a new library and a new cafeteria.

SMS-todayMany changes have taken place since that day in 1893 when three sisters opened the doors to Saint Francis School. There is no longer a high school, but the school houses grades pre-school through grade eight. The faculty has increased to eleven classroom teachers plus music, art, library, religion, and physical education teachers. With all the of the changes in faculty, facilities, and curriculum at Saint Francis over the years, the factors that makes Saint Francis school special has not changed since 1893. Christian Doctrine and ethics still hold a central position here.

Mission Statement for the Catholic Schools of the Diocese of Erie:  A Catholic education aims to prepare students, not only for a career, but also for life.  It helps students to deal, not only with questions of what a person should know, but also with how a person should live.  

Saint Francis School Mission Statement:  As a Catholic School, Saint Francis is dedicated to the development of strong Christian principles within its students.  It seeks to instill within each student high moral values and a positive attitude towards him/herself, other students, adults, and education in general.

Recognizing the role of parents as primary educators, Saint Francis encourages parental participation and involvement.  Inherent in this philosophy is the belief that each child must experience a sense of accomplishment and grows in the appreciation of his/her own value.  Parents and staff dedicate their efforts to this end.

Saint Francis also acknowledges the absolute necessity of maintaining standards of excellence in all academic areas.  The curriculum must provide students with those skills necessary to meet challenges and make decisions in the modern world.  By striving to teach as Jesus taught, the entire community affirms the value of living as Jesus lived.