As we look to the future and a new chapter for Catholic education on the west side of Manhattan, we stand on the shoulders of those who came before us. Merging SBS and SHJS, both communities bring powerful stories of Catholic education.
History of the School of the Blessed Sacrament
The School of the Blessed Sacrament was founded in 1903 by the Christian Brothers of Saint John Baptist de la Salle and Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton's Sisters of Charity of Mount St. Vincent. The first graduation was held in 1909. Originally the school stood on the corner of 71st Street and Broadway. In 1914, Reverend Thomas F. Myhan undertook the building of a new church, rectory, and school, and on September 8, 1919 the new school on West 70th street was opened. A high school opened in 1922 but closed in 1967, giving way for the elementary school to expand and use upper floors of the building.
Sacred Heart of Jesus School History
Sacred Heart of Jesus School was established in 1896 in four houses on West 51st Street. The Sisters of Charity of New York were asked to staff the school, which was initially open only to girls. This was a difficult period in education when children were not mandated to attend school and child labor laws had not come into being. The faculty and school leadership faced a variety of challenges, from the opening of a kindergarten in 1898 to help serve the needs of working mothers, to class sizes of over 100 students.
During the early years of the school's history, the hallmark of a SHJS education was the development of the whole person. The educational program focused on the development of students as spiritual, intellectual, artistic and social persons created in the image and likeness of God. Through their gifts and talents, students were then encouraged to contribute to the Church and society by putting their skills at the service of their neighbors.
In 1924 the Christian Brothers of Ireland were invited to start a boys' division of SHJS. Soon, the school became the largest elementary school on the west side of Manhattan. It would not be until the mid 1960's that the boys' and girls' divisions would be merged into one school.
The Sisters of Charity extended their mission of education to children who were developmentally delayed or had special needs. In 1957, special education classes opened at the school. Thirty years later, in 1987, SHJS became home to The Cooke Foundation for Special Education.