St. Mary's School: School History

St. Mary's School - History

In 1864, St. Mary’s Parish welcomed its first permanent pastor, Father Charles Schelhamer.  He immediately took the steps necessary to build a rectory on the northeast corner of Third and Elm Streets.  This building was later used for a school and housed the first and second graders.

In 1888, a two-story brick structure was built on the same property where the present school and playground are located today –  this was the first St. Mary’s Catholic School in Greenville, Ohio.  It stood north of the present school and east of the old frame house that was used for the rectory.

In September of the same year, the Sisters of Charity of Mount St. Joseph, Ohio took charge of the school.  The pastor moved into a new rectory directly across the street from the school, and the old rectory then became the convent.  The nuns lived here until that building was needed to be used as classrooms for the first and second grades.  These two buildings were St. Mary’s Catholic School for about 70 years.  The convent was in use from 1948 – 1986.  The convent is now the Youth House.

The playground is right beside the main school building.  The old school was torn down so a playground and parking lot could be constructed.  In later years, the house next to it was purchased and also torn down to make a larger area for the playground/parking lot.

St. Mary's School

The reverend Father Thomas Coleman lifted the first shovel of dirt during the ground-breaking ceremonies for the new $200,000 parochial school here. The school was erected on the corner lot directly across from St. Mary’s Church on West Third Street.

March 9, 1957 – It was the culmination of three years of faith, planning and work.  The commemoration ceremonies during the laying of the cornerstone for Greenville’s new six-room $200,000 parochial school being erected for an enrollment of over 170 students. The rituals were brief but impressive, the Catholic faithful winding their way through the welcoming portals of St. Mary’s Church as the bells tolled prior to the official outdoor ceremonies of dedication.  Then as the town clock struck five, the church was emptied while patrons and friends, laborers and well-wishers congregated several hundred strong, in the brisk spring air to witness the historic dedication, blessing & placing of the cornerstone, bearing the inscription of the year 1957, at the southwest prominence of the rapidly-rising St. Mary’s School.  It was with an impressive solemnity the Father Thomas Coleman, in the presence of visiting dignitaries of the Catholic clergy, Father Leo M. Walsh, pastor of the sacred Heart parish in Dayton, and the Rt. Rev. Msgr. Robert H. Krumholtz, vice rector of Mount St. Mary’s seminary at Norwood, placed the various articles of historic importance and sentiment to the local parish in the stainless steel enclosure that was sealed in the cornerstone for posterity.  “This beautiful rose is from a magnificent bouquet that the children of my parish gave me today my patron saint’s feast day – St. Thomas Aquinas who incidentally is the patron saint of all Catholic Schools,” explained Father Coleman as he tucked each item carefully inside the concrete block.  There was barely enough room what with the commemorative scroll rolled up in its permanent copper tube container, copies of the newspapers as well as last Sunday’s church bulletin and a brochure issued during the fund-raising drive–all recording important events the history and development of the new Greenville parochial school for the benefit of generations many years hence. “I could do better with my left hand,” mused Msgr. Krumholtz, forced to handle the trowel in his right hand during the final ritual of sealing the cornerstone over with concrete while a cold and uncooperative March wind did blow.  It was a significant step in the long historic progress of Greenville city’s parochial school.  (Parochial school is a private school supported by a particular church or parish)

St. Mary's School

Father Coleman said that among the articles to be placed in the cornerstone would be a history of the parish, pictures taken of the ground breaking for the new school last Oct. 3, coins, a 1956 church report, and several copies of the Greenville Daily Advocate with stories about the church and its school program.  The enrollment of students was 170.

In 1957, the school housed 201 students in grades 1 -8.  The new school opened during the school year 1957 -1958.  The enrollment was 212 pupils in eight grades.  Inside there is a full basement, six classrooms, and a first-aid room, and principal’s office.  This could be used as both a school assembly and church auditorium.

The 207 students of St. Mary’s Catholic parish registered for the fall term in a flurry of excitement.  The record registration for St. Mary’s was held in the brick schoolhouse which had served the parish for 10 years.  The six-classroom building, built at a cost of $200,000 has been in use since October.

St. Mary's School

Decorating the front of the building is a base relief of the school’s patron, the Virgin Mary, and the Christ child.  The Christ child represents the model of childhood.  A carved two-way crucifix has been installed in a huge window over the main entrance.  The base relief and the crucifix are the work of Robert C. Koepnick, Dayton sculptor.

The new school building of St. Mary’s Parish, Greenville will be formally dedicated by Archbishop Karl J. Alter at ceremonies on Sunday, April 20, 1958 at 3:30 p.m.  Besides the blessing ceremonies, rosary recitation and Benediction will be held in St. Mary’s Church.  Assisting in the dedication were two sons of the Greenville parish, Rev. Lawrence Blottman, now pastor of St. Charles church at Carthage, a Cincinnati suburb, and Rev. Robert Maher, pastor of St. Mary Help of Christians church, Fairborn.  As Archbishop Alter began the ceremony of blessing the exterior of the school, darkening skies threatened rain.  The downpour came after the blessing of the interior when the processional and parishioners returned to the church to hear the archbishop speak.  Approximately 75 priests from throughout the Cincinnati diocese attended the dedication.


St. Mary's School

Oct. 27, 2012 St. Mary’s School celebrated its 125th anniversary. To commemorate that event, Dennis M. Schurr, the Archbishop of Cincinnati, visited St. Mary’s Catholic Church, 238 West Third St., across the street from the school, to celebrate Mass at 10 a.m., kicking off a year-long celebration.  Teachers continue to educate the tradition that the Sisters of Charity began so long ago, St. Mary’s School offers a pre-school through eighth grade education.  The school features small class sizes that allow a unique level of individual attention for each student.  Catholic schools are renowned for academic excellence.  Students in Catholic schools consistently score in the top one-third on nationally standardized tests.

In 1948, the property at the southeast corner of West Main and Elm streets was purchased for a new convent for the Sisters, and the old buildings were converted into a school.  This is now the Youth House.  In 1857, under the pastorate of Father Thomas Coleman, the present school was built.  That year it housed 201 students in grade 1-8, this year the school has an enrollment of 83 students in grades k-8 and 36 children in the pre-school program.

Principals who have served the school throughout the years have included Sister Mary Lewine Pluckebaum, Sister Ann Dolores Miller, Sister Renatta Couch, Sister Suzanne Donavan, Sister Virginia Kunz, Sister Joan Clare Stewart, and Sister Mary Alice Haithcoat.  Ms. Carol Hertel retired in the spring of 2009, and Vernon Rosenbeck came that fall and continues as principal.  It is believed that Mr. Rosenbeck is the first male principal of the school.

St. Mary's School

Mr. Rosenbeck is no stranger to education or the administration of it.  He has been a teacher, principal, and superintendent, having worked the past 34 years for Russia Schools in neighboring Shelby County.  Rosenbeck, who grew up in Chickasaw, began as a health and physical education teacher, and coached many different sports from 1975-1983.  He was also athletic director for the school from 1980 to 2002, and started the Athletic Boosters organization.

From 1983-1986, he was K – 12 principal: from 1996 – 2004 was superintendent: and from 2004 – 2007 was k – 12 principal and once again became athletic director from the fall 2007 to February 2008, after which time he retired.  He then went on to serve as interim superintendent for Twin Valley Community School, initiating the superintendent forum.

Rosenbeck, who was hired to help raise the attendance rate of St. Mary’s, said the highest enrollment ever at St. Mary’s was 150 in the 1970s. Rosenbeck said a student does not have to be Catholic to enroll.

Rosenbeck, a 1969 graduate of Marion Local High School, earned his Bachelor of Science degree in health and physical education from Findlay College in 1974 and his master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Dayton in 1982.