History of Mary Immaculate School
Oblate Father Walter Arnold, the first pastor established Mary Immaculate Parish on July 2, 1956. The old Dallas Gun Club building became a temporary chapel for the fledgling parish. The first Mass was offered on Sunday, July 29, 1956. In 1958 under Oblate Father Robert Breteau, a rectory was purchased. That same year saw the first building a chapel/cafeteria, dedicated on the current parish property at the corner of Dennis Lane and Valwood Parkway.
In 1959 the parish school was started staffed by four Benedictine sisters from Lisle, Illinois. And two lay teachers with an enrollment of 215 students. Sister Mary Regina, O.S.B. was the first principal. On September 13, 1959, Bishop Thomas Gorman dedicated three temporary classroom buildings. These “temporary” buildings would actually remain in use for about twenty years. As the school grew, multiple buildings were added to accommodate growth. In the 1960s, permanent offices and several classrooms were built. In the 1980s, the present Parish Hall was built to serve as a gym, cafeteria, and social center. In the 2000s, the new sanctuary and church offices were built, and the old sanctuary and church offices were converted into a gymnasium, art room and school offices. At this time, the Parish Hall was also renovated and updated. In 2012 the art room was converted into a dual-purpose art room and science center.
Mary Immaculate School presently includes grades kindergarten through eighth.
In 1971, the Benedictine sisters returned to Arkansas and were replaced by the Incarnate Word of the Blessed Sacrament Sisters from Victoria, Texas. Again, the school was supervised by a religious order, by Principal, Sister Borgia Polak, I.W.B.S. The Incarnate Word sisters remained until 1980.
Since 1980, the school has been entirely staffed by lay employees. A campus minister was added in 2013 to increase the pastoral/ministerial presence at the school, further enabling them to continue to fulfill the school mission to provide academic excellence in a Catholic and Christ-centered environment.
The school has a tradition of growth that is matched by strong volunteerism and giving. An annual giving campaign addresses a tuition gap and feeds funds into an endowment to help ensure the future of Catholic education at Mary Immaculate School. In each of the past three years, this endowment—which in 2011 reached a $1 million goal four years earlier than originally planned—is supported by approximately 90% of current school families each year. An annual auction gala, led by the Parent/Teacher Club, also addresses tuition gap plus helps fund school activities such as field trips.
The $650,000 renovation of gym, art room, and offices in 2007 was financed entirely through the financial and physical efforts of parish, alumni and school families; and the $250,000 renovation of art room and science center in summer 2012 was also done without incurring bank debt. In 2012-13, over $100,000 was focused on security improvements for the school, which included a remodeled front entry with camera security system, a visitor management system, and magnetic locking door plus new double-keyed doorknobs for every classroom. A $550,000 renovation of the 7th/8th grade classrooms was aided by $170,000 in grants from foundations and local organizations.
Technology is addressed and upgraded on an annual basis, with a wireless network, Direct TV, a Weatherbug weather station, and interactive whiteboards in every classroom. Mobile laptop and iPad labs on wheels shared by each hallway are available for classroom use, while digital microscopes with probes and sensors that feed information directly to the laptops are used in the Science Lab.
In 2018-2019, the school had an enrollment of 448 students and was staffed by a professional staff of 34. The new principal for this school year is Sister Mary Anne Zuberbueler, O.P.
Mary Immaculate School has changed much over the years, but the school’s mission to provide academic excellence in a Catholic and Christ-centered environment remains the same. In 2008, the U.S. Department of Education recognized Mary Immaculate School as a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, and the school’s priority to provide the best Catholic education possible continues.