By S. Catherine Noecker
St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School was founded in 1951 as a Franciscan mission school for African American children in Greenville, South Carolina. Initially located in an old farmhouse turned convent, it moved to a cinderblock building near the Church/Friary in 1956. St. Anthony’s, a leader in integrating Greenville County schools, broadened the student body to include children regardless of race or creed.
The educational model focused on small class sizes and one-on-one learning opportunities. Its achievement is continually unparalleled: its graduates are judges, religious leaders, lawyers, teachers, and professionals in all disciplines.
Time, climate and substandard materials took their toll on “the little school on the hill.” So, in 2010, school leadership began calling on the wider Greenville community to support a capital campaign to replace the old building. The result was remarkable: by February 2011, more than $6 million in pledges and contributions had come from families, businesses, foundations–even from non-Catholic churches whose families had sent their children to St. Anthony’s.
After many years of prayer, planning, pleading and more prayer, the day finally arrived for a groundbreaking ceremony. Enough money had been raised to fully cover all construction costs for a new St. Anthony of Padua Catholic School! The beautiful chilly but sunshine-filled day in February 2011 was evidence for us as we broke ground together that God had blessed all our efforts!
The new building on Gower Street opened May 12, 2012, with classrooms for each grade level, a gym, a library, a cafeteria, a chapel, a music studio and an art room!