Situated on 35 acres in Mentor, Ohio, Lake Catholic High School stands today as a tribute to a community and the dedicated individuals who fought to have an educational facility in Lake County to spread the Catholic faith to young men and women throughout the community.
Lake Catholic High School opened its doors in the fall of 1970 to 221 ninth graders. They were not in the brand-new school building on Reynolds Road, but in the temporary quarters at Mentor Shore Junior High School, under the direction of founding Principal James E. Simonis and an eight-member faculty. The new building, our current site, was still under construction by the Cleveland Diocese and was not ready for occupancy. In Mentor Shore Junior High, the fledgling student body had classrooms but little else; there were no desks, no lockers and no formal transportation system. It was a challenging situation for all to learn and teach in.
St. John Vianney Parish, in temporary lodgings itself, agreed to share its folding chairs with the school. That too, required a great deal of effort and cooperation. Each Sunday after the last Mass, parents would transport the chairs from Lake Elementary School, St. John Vianney's temporary home, to Shore Junior High School. Each Friday afternoon the process was reversed. And with no lockers, students carried all of their books from class to class throughout the day.
The school situation remained the same for six months. Finally, on March 1, 1971, those pioneering students and staff moved into the new, though still only partially completed, building. The students, faculty and staff shared their school with construction workers throughout the remainder of the school year. Still, the dream of a Catholic high school in Lake County had finally been realized.
The experiences shared by those early pioneers strengthened their sense of "family.” It is that community atmosphere that Lake Catholic has nurtured over the past fifty-plus years. From that single class of ninth graders to the current student body from Lake, Geauga, Cuyahoga, and Ashtabula counties, Lake Catholic has become a caring Christian community and a provider of quality education.
From its founding, the school has been owned and operated by the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland. Of the school's 10,000+ alumni, more than 90% have gone on to two- or four-year colleges or universities. Many have returned to the North Coast to work and raise their families.
Lake Catholic High School has been a story of growth and many satisfying achievements — academically, spiritually, athletically, and in extracurricular activities. Although the school is certainly not the oldest around, it has built a strong reputation in Lake County and is looked upon very highly by its students, parents, alumni, and the general population. The current community is continually striving to live out the philosophy originally established in 1970-71: a commitment to excellence and a willingness to serve. An awesome responsibility, yet one that will sustain the school for another thirty years and allow an alternative education for generations of students to come.
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