In September of 1951, a legacy began in Kern County. Under the authority of the Dominican Sisters of Tacoma, Washington, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School opened its doors to children in grades kindergarten through third with the intention of providing quality education while fostering faith in each student.
Back then, the Sisters ran what classrooms they had, which were located in the original wing of the building. “There used to be just one Sister or teacher per classroom,” said current Principal Donna Smith, “but now, in every single classroom for the past six years, we have both a teacher and an aide. We now have a staff of forty.”
Currently, the school is operating under the Diocese of Fresno with a staff of lay faculty and administration. Though the Sisters may not be present anymore, it is clear that their unwavering faith and dedication to the spiritual and educational development of the children remains.
Over the years, the school has expanded and has been consistently upgraded to keep up with the needs of the students and parents. (This summer they will be opening a state-of-the-art science and media lab.) “We now have students from age two through the eighth grade,” Smith disclosed. “There is one classroom per grade.” Naturally, the need for space also increased. She continued, “The hall was added after some time, and then in 1998, a three-classroom wing was built.”
Growth at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School obviously takes place on many levels. The spirit of generosity and dedication to the students has been strong from both the staff and the community. “Eight years ago, we started the band program,” Smith said. “And in 2013, the Berchtold family donated funds to build a beautiful music room for the band and choir. It is housed on the Garces campus, but was a gift to both schools.”
Just as all facilities are consistently upgraded, the curriculum is also evolving. Currently, the fact that they now have a school counselor, speech pathologist, and special education teacher on staff means that their services for students are more comprehensive. The school started a STEM program and next year they will be adjusting their schedule to match that of a STREAM school (Science, Technology, Reading/Writing/Religion, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics). “We like to say that we educate all of God’s children, one child at a time,” Smith beamed.
At Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School, which is open to children of varying faiths, they adhere to their mission and guide the pupils to “love, serve, and grow as members of God’s family.” Here, they are interested in the whole child, and know that learning doesn’t just begin and end with reading and math. For decades, they’ve worked with the children and their families to help each child to grow in their own faith as well as their intellect, making for a complete education with a lifelong value.
Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic School – Established 1951
124 Columbus Street, Bakersfield CA, 661-327-7741