Holy Cross School is a center of learning, loving and spiritual growth. It is an institution where children, principals, support staff, volunteers, parents and priests work in a loving, harmonious atmosphere to facilitate learning. What started out as a four-room school opened in September 1961 has grown in 2015 into a wonderful school community of close to 537 students from JK to Grade 6.
It was during the summer of 1960 that a group of parishioners obtained the permission of the parish priest to investigate the possibility of building a separate school for the Holy Cross parish. When the facts showed that there was the potential in the parish for a separate school, a meeting of the ratepayers was held in the Kemptville town hall on October 12, 1960 to decide on the site. The site selected was in Oxford-on-Rideau Township near the church. The new four-room school, built at a cost of $80,000.00 opened in September 1961, with three rooms used as classrooms.
The school board searched among the congregation for teachers and found three ladies willing to fill the positions. These founding women were Mrs. Gertrude Thibert (principal and grade 7/8 teacher), Mrs. Theresa McGahey (grade 4, 5 and 6 teacher) and Mrs. Mary Beach (primary teacher for the grade 1, 2 and 3 students). Then in September 1963, the fourth room was used and Mr. John Doyle was engaged as a teacher. Archbishop O’Sullivan blessed the school in June 1963.
In 1965, a three-room addition was built at a cost of $60,000.00. Two of these rooms were used as classrooms and the third, larger than normal room, would be used as a general purpose room, until such time as the enrolment might necessitate the use of this third room as a classroom. Before the 1968-69 school year began, the decision was made to have this room become a kindergarten classroom and Mrs. Rose Finley was hired as a teacher. In 1971, Mrs. Gertrude Thibert, first principal of Holy Cross, retired and Mr. Clifford Morris was appointed to the position.
Holy Cross School’s enrolment continued to grow. Mr. Morris sought office space for himself and his secretary in a more convenient location at the front of the school. As a result, a second extension was constructed containing the library, two washrooms, a kitchen, a gymnasium with change rooms for the boys and girls, a kitchenette, and a principal’s office. At this time, the principal’s old office was converted into a health room, the boys’ change room became the French department, and the girls’ change room became the special education classroom because Holy Cross was full to capacity again.
The school year 1972-1973 brought more changes as Mr. Clifford Morris resigned as principal and was replaced by Mr. Lawrence Lunney.
As years went by, Holy Cross continued to grow and change. Again it was bulging at the seams – overflowing into 5 portables – so the current principal, Mrs. Pat Shaw, invited members from the Ministry of Education to view our situation. The result was a third addition with seven new classrooms, one being oversized. This larger room became a lunchroom, drama room, school dance area, and finally our instrumental music classroom. This addition was completed in 1987.
Within two years, we were back to several portables. The school board petitioned the Ministry of Education to attach them to our school in the form of a portapack.
In May 2007, new construction plans were in the works. Holy Cross received wonderful news of an addition consisting of ten classrooms, washrooms and a multi-purpose room. Furthermore, additional special funding will also provide other upgrades throughout the existing school. Our students, staff and school community are excitedly looking forward to these enhancements that will further improve the wonderful learning environment within Holy Cross School.
During these years of growth, we were fortunate to be guided by strong, insightful leaders and principals such as Mr. Emmett Doyle, Mr. Winston Sunstrum, Mrs. Margaret Fancy, Mr. Tom Jordan, Mr. David Guertin, Ms. Donna Koekkoek, Mrs. Catherine Empey and currently, Mr. David Kennedy. All of our principals, both past and present, supported by our children, teachers, support staff, volunteers, parents and priests have created a harmonious atmosphere of love that promotes and facilitates learning.