The year was 1950 and Reverend Quill was the pastor of St. Paul Parish. He had a vision!
The Terry Estate was for sale and he saw an opportunity for a convent with the hopes that one day a parochial school would follow. Within months many joined forces with him, including the Hingham Knights of Columbus. In June of that year his vision was coming to fruition and funds were solicited to build that school! Within one week $77,000 was secured ($53,000 within 4 hours) and the building of Saint Paul School was moving forward. At a cost of $225,000 completion of the one-story school would have nine classrooms (K-8) and an auditorium.
The first students were enrolled in September of 1952, starting with 145 children in Grades 1-4 and one grade added each year thereafter. Hold on to your seats … tuition was not charged until 1960 and it was $30 for the first child and $5 for each additional child in the family. If you were out of parish, you paid $50 in tuition. The health and well-being of our students has always been a priority. However, back in 1952, we were told that if there was a medical emergency, someone was assigned the role to run across North Street and knock on Dr. Heinz’s door…he would kindly come right over to help! Students also received an annual dental exam from Dr. Rando - in the lower hall of the school. It takes a village!
In these early years, “The Saint Paul’s Mother’s Club” sponsored covered dish suppers and turkey bridge. After ten years of watching, Dads wanted to become involved and this group became known as the “St. Paul’s Guild”. Fundraisers were added from dances, fashion shows and cruises. There were cake sales and the annual decorating of the 4th of July parade float. Eventually the Parent Teacher Organization replaced the guild and added many events we see today including the variety show. Room mothers were as involved as much then as they are today. I am pleased to say we even have a dad this year! Did you know that for a period of time, the PTO chair position was shared?… husband and wife co-chairs! In later years the Harvest Dance, Christmas Bazaar and wreath sales were added to our annual school calendar. These events became traditions, with our most cherished being those featuring the children including the annual Christmas Concert, Saint Patrick's Day Celebration and Grandparents Day.
The PTO was instrumental in fundraising to pave the way for today. Parents were busy renovating the kitchen and painting the hallways of the school, volunteering not only their time but incurring no cost to the parish.
It was now 1972 and rumors of decline in women entering the convent were spreading. What would this mean for our school? After review it was announced in the newspaper that the Sisters of Saint Joseph would be withdrawing from the school and it would be closing. Within 15 minutes the parents leaped into action initiating the “snow chain of telephone calls” arranging a meeting. A board was formed with the hopes of changing the order's minds. They knew change had to happen. What was once a parochial school taught by the sisters would now require lay teachers led by a sister principal. There would be tuition increased but everyone was unified to keep Saint Paul School open.
A lot is owed to the parents and to incoming principal Sr. Marie St. Barbara! There was purpose and commitment to spiritual and academic growth of the children. Students excelled in reading, writing and arithmetic. They were taught to take that learned knowledge to make the world a better place and responsibility to be a role model inside and outside of the school.
Under the leadership of Father Rafferty in 1997 a capital campaign was started for renovations to the church. Sr. Marie had always wanted to expand the resources of the school. Fr. Rafferty shared the vision to add a second floor to the school and through the generosity of the school community the campaign was a success.
Over the following 25 years there were ups and downs in enrollment and staff but the spiritual formation and academic education of the children never wavered.
There have been as many upgrades as there were changes from the playground structure to the addition of technology: iPads, Chromebook, Smartboards, and let’s not forget remote learning, ZOOM and classroom cameras. More recently was the addition of a preschool classroom, summer camp offerings, and institution of an Academic and Enrichment Center to name a few. Most importantly the summer of 2022 we focused on safety and security.
Father Nestor and the Saint Paul School School Board have been instrumental in the school for close to 8 years. Their unwavering support of me and dedication to our school has allowed everything that was listed above and more!
I would like to acknowledge Father Nestor specifically. He has been a tremendous spiritual guide and support for our students, me and our staff. When I came to Saint Paul School he asked if there was anything I would like from him. I responded with one request - that each morning we congregate in the gymnasium to pray together as a school community of teachers and students. There have been very few mornings that we were not led by a priest, even during COVID. No better way to start our school day!
Throughout the years let’s not forget about our teachers. For an estimated 35 hours of the week the children of Hingham and the South Shore have received one of the most valuable gifts … the gift of a Catholic education from faith-filled educated teachers who deeply care about their faith, profession, and educating and preparing the children for life. Let’s not forget that after those 35 hours are over these instructors spend countless more proctoring enrichment activities from drama to art and cooking all while still having to plan and prepare their daily lessons!
Fast forward to today. While our structure and tuition may have changed, what has not changed is the excellent education, parent involvement and treasured traditions. All of these efforts are rooted in our school culture today …inspired by a love for…a true dedication to… our community …our SPS family!!
From waiting lists to high rate of high school acceptances Saint Paul School should be commended for fulfilling their mission …. Saint Paul School is a Catholic community in which love of God, neighbor and self are foremost. We provide a challenging curriculum promoting academic excellence infused with Catholic traditions and values.