About

 

ABOUT

For over 150 years of Catholic education in Lebanon County, a strong tradition of academic excellence on Assumption Hill continues today. Lebanon Catholic School strives to instill wisdom to our students in the sacred spirit of the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin Mary, patroness of our school, and the sacred teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

Lebanon Catholic was the first school in the Harrisburg Diocese to encompass a Pre-kindergarten through 12th grade structure. Tremendous benefits have come from this format. Secondary students interact and become positive role models for the younger students. The elementary students are examples of enthusiasm and joy for the secondary students.

Anchored in faith, the community of Lebanon Catholic School is highly committed to academic excellence, life-long learning, moral responsibility, service to others and the dignity of the human person.

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HISTORY

The history of Lebanon Catholic School began in the parish of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary nestled in the heart of the city of Lebanon, PA. The parochial school system, established by Reverend Antonius M. Grundner, O.S.B.V.M., came into existence in 1859. A steady growth continued for well over a hundred years.

Lay teachers maintained the original school, followed by quick succession by the Sisters, Servants of Immaculate Heart of Mary in 1861, and the Sisters of Mercy in 1869. In 1870, the Sisters of Saint Joseph took charge of the elementary school. In 1876, six sisters cared for two hundred students. The pastor was Reverend Aloysius F. Kuhlman.

In 1926, it became necessary to formulate plans for a new building which would accommodate a larger number of students seeking admission into the parish school. Facilities also needed to provide for a Catholic high school. The new building on Willow Street was dedicated on June 3, 1929 with Monsignor Adam Christ as pastor. Elementary classrooms and a full auditorium occupied the main floor. The basement level contained a gymnasium, locker rooms, a bowling alley, a band room, and some elementary classrooms. The second floor of the building contained high school classrooms, as well as laboratories for biology, chemistry, and physics, and facilities for a commercial course. Lebanon Catholic High School graduated its first class of 18 students in 1932.

As early as 1950, it was evident that the parish school building would not be adequate for increased enrollments. In 1953, the number of students in both schools was well over eleven hundred, including three hundred and eighty students in the high school. A building fund was officially launched by the pastor, Monsignor Paul D. Weaver on December 8, 1954. The site for the new Lebanon Catholic High School was to be Assumption Hill, land purchased in 1949 on Chestnut Street.

On April 9, 1956 the Most Reverend George L. Leech, Bishop of Harrisburg, created a diocesan institution out of what was a parochial high school. This meant that five other parishes would lend their support to the proposed new building, and thus, a Board of Pastors was also created.

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Dedication of Lebanon Catholic High School on Assumption Hill by Bishop George L. Leech.

 

 

On October 11, 1959, the new Lebanon Catholic High School on Assumption Hill was dedicated by the Most Reverend Egidio Vagnozzi, Apostolic Delegate to the United States. The first principal of the new school was Reverend Joseph C. Hilbert. The faculty was composed of nine Sisters of St. Joseph and eight lay teachers. Total high school enrollment was 499 students. The first class of 1960 graduated 113 students. St. Mary’s Elementary School reached its peak enrollment of 1,115 students in the following 1960-61 school year.

For the 1963-64 school year Lebanon Catholic reached its highest enrollment of 700 students. In September 1964, three Sisters of Saints Cyril and Methodius joined the faculty. One Daughter of Mercy joined the faculty in 1976.

Enrollment declined due to several factors. Tuition, which was not originally charged, had to be introduced. Due to the declining number of religious faculty tuition continued to escalate. Laws which had offered the promise of aiding in the rising cost of instruction were found to be unconstitutional. Many new public school facilities, offering a wider variety of educational and athletic experiences, were built in the area.

St. Gregory the Great Parish was formed from St. Mary’s Parish in 1965. They sent their children to St. Mary’s School as did Sacred Heart, St. Paul’s, and Our Lady of Fatima. For this reason in the late l970’s it began to be called St. Mary’s Regional School. With the closure of St. Gertrude’s Parish School and Saints Cyril and Methodius Parish School those parishes and Mary Gate of Heaven Parish were invited to join the Board of St. Mary’s School and send their children there. The school was renamed St. Mary’s Consolidated School when Saints Cyril and Methodius and Mary Gate of Heaven joined the Board as full members. A contest was held for the students to rename the school to more accurately reflect the reality of its student body. The name Our Lady of the Valley was chosen by Bishop Keeler to be the new name of the school.

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In September 1989, Lebanon Catholic became a Junior-Senior High School with the transfer of the 7th and 8th grades from Our Lady of the Valley to Assumption Hill. The opening enrollment for that facility was 265 students. This was an attempt by the newly appointed Bishop Nicholas Datillo to ensure that access to Catholic education at every level would continue to be available in Lebanon County. Our Lady of the Valley had added a Pre-K component and was then a K4-6 facility.

In 1995 four Lebanon parishes were involved in mergers due to diocesan restructuring. St. Gertrude’s Parish and St. Gregory the Great parishes became St. Cecilia’s Parish. Saints Cyril and Methodius and the recently founded Our Lady of Guadalupe Spanish Parish became St. Benedict the Abbot Parish. Students from these merged parishes attended both schools, and their pastors were members of both school boards.

As the 1995-1996 school year opened Lebanon Catholic began without the presence of a diocesan priest as its principal for the first time in its history. Father Philip DeChico was replaced by Mr. Mark Freund, Lebanon Catholic’s first lay principal.

In August of 2001, Our Lady of the Valley Elementary School (K4-6) and Lebanon Catholic Junior-Senior High School (7-12) consolidated into one K4-12 entity and became known as Lebanon Catholic School. The boards of both schools merged and became a single board. All students are now located at Assumption Hill site on Chestnut Street. To accommodate this merger, eight modular classrooms were placed on the grounds to extend the upper floor space to house grades 3-6. Students in Pre-K through 2nd grade were housed in the existing building.

The opening enrollment for the 2001-2002 school year was 485 students. Deacon Richard Wentzel, an alumnus and faculty member who over the years had taught at both schools, was asked by Bishop Datillo to act as principal and facilitate the merger. One Sister of St. Joseph remained as a faculty member.

In August 2004 per diocesan recommendation, sixth grade was moved into the main building and second grade was moved to the modular units. This was so grades 6 through 8 could be configured as a Middle School.

Students from St. Joan of Arc Parish, which still maintains its own K-8 parish school, also attend the Secondary components of Lebanon Catholic School. Because this parish is in Dauphin County but is part of the Lebanon—Hershey Deanery its students can attend either Lebanon Catholic or Bishop McDevitt High School in Harrisburg. Holy Spirit Parish, which was a mission of St. Joan of Arc Parish, also sends students to Lebanon Catholic School at the secondary level. St. Joan of Arc’s pastor and Holy Spirit’s pastor are members of the School Board.

Under the leadership of Bishop Ronald Gainer, Lebanon Catholic School currently provides Catholic education to children from seven diocesan parishes. The student body includes students from six public school districts in Lebanon County and three public school districts outside of the county.

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In 2014 a new school seal was introduced. The academic crest still remains a strong representation of the LC community and its link to the Diocese of Harrisburg. Following the design of the shield that serves as the centerpiece of the Diocese of Harrisburg, the shield and the icons will continue to serve as the base of the redesigned crest.

{The crescent moon is the revered lunar symbol of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whom Saint John beheld in a vision as “a woman . . . with the moon under her feet” (Revelation 12:1). Two silver roundels are derived from the arms of William Penn, the English Quaker and founder of Pennsylvania. The cedar tree has Biblical ties and represents centuries of religious struggles for Lebanon. This cedar is referenced many times in the Bible: “The righteous flourish like the palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon” (Psalms 92:12).}

{The most prominent feature of the arms of Lebanon Catholic School is a cross, the central symbol of the Christian faith. The shield is finally inscribed with a scroll bearing the school’s motto, “Wisdom Through Mary.” The basic color of the field is deep blue, in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Blue is also the heraldic color for philosophy.}

In 2015, Lebanon Catholic School adopted a board of directors who is appointed by the Pastoral Members and approved by the Bishop. One quarter of the Board members will be drawn from the Pastors. Bylaws are authorized by the Bishop for the governance of the school as recommended for K-12 schools as a charitable corporation under Pennsylvania law. The Board of Directors for Lebanon Catholic School is composed of the pastoral members, President, Vice-President, Secretary, Treasurer, Principal and approved ex-officio directors.

Lebanon Catholic School’s current enrollment is 379 students.