St. John’sChurch was built in 1915 under the pastorate of Reverend Thomas O’ Donohue. Later, it was enlarged by Monsignor Michael Boland who opened the Catholic school in 1926, providing classrooms at the rear of the church for grades one through eight. Kindergarten was taught at St. James Children’s Home, which is now Woodland Hills. Children from the orphanage joined parish youth at the school and were instructed by Benedictine Sisters from St. Scholastica Monastery.
A new church was constructed west of the original church in 1951. The original church became a two-story school housing grades one through eight in 1954, and the original school, became the gymnasium. In the late 1960’s, grades seven and eight were moved to SacredHeartSchool in downtown Duluth to initiate a CatholicJunior High School. In 1975, the kindergarten moved into one of the vacant rooms, and the remaining room was designated for the CCD program and as a multi-purpose room for the school. A preschool was added in 1991 which operated during the afternoon in the kindergarten room.
Due to a growing shortage of sisters, lay teachers were introduced in the 1950’s to accommodate growing enrollments. The role of principal/teacher was held by sisters until 1976, when a lay teacher was hired to fill that position.
The School Commission, the governing body of the school, was organized in 1984 under the direction of Richard Burke from Catholic School Management. It has been instrumental in governing and long-range planning for quality Catholic education geared toward excellence in a Christian environment. Due to the parish capital fund campaign, United for our Future, a multipurpose gymnasium was built in 1999, followed by new windows and exterior doors. In 2005, a new media center was created in an unused classroom. The media center houses the computer lab and library. All computers were replaced with this project and networking was created. The school also installed phones into each classroom. In 2006, a new playground was built at the back of the current school building. In 2011, construction was complete on a three million dollar expansion due to a generous donation to the school. The expansion included three new classrooms, a connection between the church and school, a lunchroom, a kitchen, a gathering space, and a student lounge area.
The religious aspect of St. John’sSchool permeates all that the community members do. Students attend weekly Mass, plan and attend prayer services, experience daily religion classes, are taught to treat one another as Jesus would want, and are active in community outreach.
Students enjoy a challenging academic program designed to meet the needs of all students. The primary grades (K, 1, 2, and 3) are self-contained classrooms with specialized teachers in physical education and music. The intermediate grades (4, 5, and 6) are departmentalized with specialized teaching in science, math, social studies, and computer science, as well as physical education and music.
Accreditation through the Minnesota Nonpublic Schools Accrediting Association was accomplished in 1997 and was renewed in 2003 and 2011. The accreditation includes kindergarten through grade six.