In the fall of 1940, St. Francis Elementary School at 2500 K Street extended its educational program to include its first ninth grade class. Twelve young women thus became the first class to attend St. Francis High School. After spending two years at St. Francis, the class was transferred to St. Joseph’s School, a three-story structure then located at 8th and I Streets. The young women who began their freshman year in 1941 became the first graduating class of St. Francis High School in the spring of 1945.
Taught by the St. Francis Sisters of Penance and Christian Charity, the original St. Francis High School students recall the occasional lay faculty member who provided instruction in such curriculum basics as sewing (hand stitching, since no sewing machines were available) and the proper way to sit as a lady. Typing was introduced during the sophomore year by Sr. Geraldine and Sr. Peter, who also directed the annual play.
Increased enrollment caused a need for more high schools, and in 1956 newly erected Bishop Armstrong became the school for the juniors and seniors from St. Francis, St. Joseph, and Christian Brothers High Schools. Each school maintained its own ninth and tenth grades. Bishop Armstrong was considered a co-institutional facility; the faculty consisted of Christian Brothers, Sisters of Mercy, the Sisters of St. Francis, diocesan clergy, and dedicated lay men and women.
This arrangement lasted until 1964, when the Christian Brothers purchased Bishop Armstrong to create a four-year boys’ high school. The girls attending Bishop Armstrong transferred to the present site of St. Francis High School on Elvas Avenue with an enrollment of 520 students in the tenth, eleventh and twelfth grades. The ninth-graders remained at the K Street site for one more year.
In 1975 the Sisters of Notre Dame and the Franciscan Sisters were no longer able to staff the school, and Bishop Alden J. Bell appointed the Sisters of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, who served until 1999.
In 2001, St. Francis High School adopted the President-Principal model of governance. Bishop William K. Weigand appointed Marion L. Bishop as the first president of the school. During her tenure at St. Francis, the school experienced an increase in enrollment from eight hundred students to over eleven hundred. She oversaw an extensive campus expansion and construction of beautiful new facilities, a photovoltaic installation, and implementation of the Kairos retreat program. Upon Marion’s retirement in 2012, Bishop Jaime Soto appointed Margo Reid Brown ‘81 to succeed her as president. Margo served as President for 4 years, and in 2016 Theresa Rodgers, former Principal, assumed role of President.