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Picking a Book

History of St. Rita's School

Under the leadership of Monsignor John Gallagher, St. Rita’s School opened its doors to 250 boys and girls in September 1951. Five School Sisters of Notre Dame staffed the school of six grades. In 1959, a second story was added to the building with six more classrooms, a library and other facilities, allowing expansion to a Kindergarten – eighth grade program. Enrollment increased steadily in the rapidly expanding community. In the early 1960’s, the property across the street from the church was acquired adding five more classrooms, a cafeteria and an auditorium to the school.

St. Rita’s came under the leadership of a lay principal in 1981 after being directed by the School Sisters of Notre Dame for thirty years. The school has had lay principals since the 1980’s.

Enrollment reached a high of 770 in 1969 with double classes in all grades and remained in the

700-student range for several years. In the following years enrollment has decreased, with the last double class graduating in 1986. A low point in enrollment with just one hundred seventy-nine students registered was reached in September 1991. With the opening of the Preschool in 1992, the enrollment steadily began to increase. In the last few years, the school’s enrollment has fluctuated due to the socio-economic conditions of the neighborhood, families moving out of the area, and the transfer of families who are military personnel. Currently, St. Rita’s School enrollment is gradually increasing. In 2022, we ended the year with 224 elementary students and 30 preschoolers.

St. Rita’s School is composed of many diverse economic and ethnic families. We are a school that welcomes students from all financial situations, providing assistance whenever possible, striving to serve as Jesus served. Our community is made up of primarily Filipino, Hispanic, African-American and European cultures.

St. Rita’s School plays a very vibrant role in the life of the parish. Through the years, this large parish and its school have provided stability and quality Catholic education to a changing community in an urban area of the city of San Diego. The city itself has grown tremendously in the last ten years, and continues to do so despite the rising cost of living. Under the leadership of Father Silverio Espenilla Jr., the community of St. Rita’s continues to thrive.

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