The Start of St. Mary’s School
In 1896, the Sisters of St. Joseph came to Bird Island to take care of a new school that was to be formed as part of St. Mary’s Church. At this time, classes were conducted on the first floor of the parish house while the sister occupied the second floor as living quarters. Fr. Kober had built a new rectory where our present school playground is now. The first parish grade school for St. Mary’s was built in 1898. It was a brick building that contained four classrooms and was used until 1933 when it was torn down.
The New School Building
Fr. Scholzen became the priest at St. Mary’s Parish in August 1910. He soon realized that the school building was inadequate due to the ever-increasing pupils. Funds were collected for the new two-story school and it was built in 1913 with seven classrooms, a library, kitchen, and dining room. The school was solemnly blessed by his Grace, Archbishop John Ireland.
St. Mary’s High School
It was deemed necessary to build a high school system for St. Mary’ School. The High School was built in 1915 and Reverend Henry J. Minea was St. Mary’s first assistant pastor who led and organized the high school system. It developed into one of the leading Catholic high schools in the Archdiocese with students coming from various parts of Minnesota to St. Mary’s School. The school was conducted by the sisters of St. Joseph with the direction and supervision of the pastor and assistant pastor of the parish. Father Minea stayed at St. Mary’s in Bird Island until 1920.
The high school became affiliated with the University of Minnesota in 1927 and thrived for decades. The school mascot was the St. Mary’s Marions and the colors were blue and yellow. In 1972, after 57 years of upper-level education, St. Mary’s held it’s final high school graduation. Rising costs and declining student population made the continuation of St. Mary’s High School unfeasible.
St. Mary’s School Today
In 1995, an every-other-day kindergarten began, which expanded to every-day kindergarten in 2000. Today, St. Mary’s School continues to make strides as a PreK-8 Catholic School offering a faith-based education and welcoming all followers of Christ at our school. St. Mary’s School serves approximately 90 families and 145 students from Bird Island and Olivia, but also neighboring cities such as Redwood Falls, Willmar, and Sacred Heart.
Want to learn more about St. Mary’s School? Contact us today for a tour!