St. John School was the first Catholic elementary school in the city of Lawrence. The school opened on September 6, 1956 as a parish school for children attending St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church. Offering a Catholic education for grades 1st-8th, the school opened under the leadership of Sister Owen Marie Falk, Principal, Sister of Charity of Leavenworth (SCL). In 1957, the first 6th grade class of 16 students graduated. Sister Joan These Cunningham, SCL, became the second principal of St. John School until 1960 when Sister Angela Marie Domann, SCL, arrived. In 1961, the first 8th grade class of 31 students graduated.
Sister Georgianne Desch, SCL, arrived in the fall of 1961 to become the fourth principal. During her leadership, the first class of students who entered in 1956 as first graders, graduated in 1964 as 8th graders with a class of 20 students. Sister Adrian Mitchell, SCL, became the fifth principal of St. John School from 1967-70. It was under Sister Adrian’s administration that grades 7th and 8th were discontinued by 1970 in order to ease the transition to the new junior high format adopted by the Lawrence Public Schools.
Under the principalship of Sister Mary Ann Bartolac, SCL, St. John Church joined together with the newly formed Corpus Christi Catholic Church in the 1970s and offered a Catholic education at St. John School for the children of that parish. Sister Mary Ann served as principal for eleven years until Sister Phyllis Stowell, SCL, arrived in 1981, and Kindergarten was added that fall with increased demand and need. The 1980s were a time of continual growth, which also meant increased financial needs. To augment funding, a fundraiser began in 1983 known today as the St. John School Benefit Auction. On June 13, 1988, Fr. Michael Scully, OFM, Cap, Pastor of St. John the Evangelist, established a Development Committee and deposited $1,000 to set-up the St. John Development Fund. In 1988, just months before Sister Elizabeth Youngs, SCL, began as principal, the first class of students who entered in 1981 as Kindergartners, graduated from the 6th grade. There were 33 graduates in the class of 1988.
Sister Elizabeth left St. John in 1994, and Mrs. Pat Newton, a third grade teacher with 20 years of classroom teaching experience at St. John School, became principal – the first lay principal in the history of our school.
In 2000, Corpus Christi Catholic Church relocated to a new building that included space for a second Catholic school in Lawrence. St. John and Corpus Christi parishes came together again to create a unified Catholic School system called, “The Lawrence Catholic School.” St. John School was renamed “The Lawrence Catholic School”… with campuses at the St. John site and the Corpus Christi site. In spring 2006, The Lawrence Catholic School split, and the St. John Campus was renamed, “St. John School,” again becoming a parish school under the direction of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church.
In 2006, St. John School celebrated its 50th anniversary and archived school memorabilia and historical documents into a digital format. With 50th years under her belt, St. John School launched two new programs to preserve the future. In fall 2007, Preschool was added serving 3 and 4 year olds, and Spanish Language was added to the school curriculum. Mrs. Newton continues to serve as Principal of St. John School today.
The 2011-12 school year opened a new chapter in the history of St. John School as the school added middle school grades which now offers education in preschool through 8th grade. In 2013, six new classrooms were added to the school which included three new classrooms, a science lab, a school library, and the St. Bosco Room which provides a large space for youth groups and parish events.
During the 2016-2017 school year, a new gym will be added and the current gym will be transformed into the new Performing Arts Center to be used for music instruction, band, orchestra, hand bell choir, vocal choir, and theatre classes. The space will have an enhanced stage area and a sound and light booth. The space will be also be used by St. John parish for gatherings and meetings. A small kitchen area will be available for refreshments and catering.
St. John School continues to grow and expand its academic offerings for students. Middle School students may choose from a wide variety of exploratory and elective classes including advanced art, advanced band and orchestra, robotics, foods, and foreign languages (Spanish; Latin, French, German, Italian, and Mandarin Chinese).