St. Patrick Interparish School History
The opening of St. Patrick School in the Fall of 1959, brought to fruition the dreams of many Catholic families for a parochial education for their children. The strands of those dreams can be traced back to the establishment of St. Patrick Parish and the installation of its first pastor. Fr. Tomas J. Lynch, in 1881. Throughout the intervening years, a Catholic education could be obtained by attendance at Sunday School programs or through private, religious tutors.
As the Catholic population grew, the foresight of Fr. William Balfe led to the purchase of five acres to be used as a site for the then inevitable school. The land cost $5000 and was paid for by parishioners. In 1956, Fr. Thomas R. Gross was named pastor and he took on the task of building the school. The Sisters of St. Joseph (SSJ) in St. Augustine provided three nuns including Sr. Mary Gemma who served as the first principal when classes began in 1959 with an enrollment of 80 students.
The first six months were spent in three cottages behind St. Augustine Church. The school moved in to its new home on March 14, 1960. At the time, St. Patrick's parish Church was located on Northeast First Street in downtown Gainesville. The parish did not move the Sanctuary adjacent to the school in what is now the social hall until 1965. When St. Patrick School opened it was in the Catholic tradition which called for a school in every parish.
Gainesville's second parish, St. Augustine, began as a ministry to the Catholic students at the University of Florida in 1922 and did not become a parish until 1968. At that time there were not enough young children in that parish to even consider establishing a parish school. When St. Patrick Parish was split in 1973 to allow for the establishment of Holy Faith Parish in Northwest Gainesville, a decision was reached not to build a school at Holy Faith due to the negative impact it would have on the enrollment level at St. Patrick School. Instead, Holy Faith and St. Augustine parishioners were encouraged to send their children to St. Patrick School. They would not have to pay an "outside parish" cost, but would pay the same tuition at St. Patrick Parish families.
The origin of the "interparish" concept can be traced back to this early sharing of a common school between parishes. However, it was not until 1991 that the school began formally calling itself St. Patrick Interparish School.
In 1988 a new construction program increased the sizes of the library and school office and created two new classrooms next to the library to house the kindergarten program. With this increase in space, a second kindergarten program was begun. This was accompanied by a plan to add a second class for each grade each year as the second kindergarten class advanced. In 1989, that meant a new portable, in 1990 a second one; then followed two more in 1992 and fifth and sixth in 1994.
In 1994 construction was begun on a new facility to house the middle school classrooms, a lunchroom and kitchen, technology and science labs, a gymnasium, parish meeting room and offices for parish youth and CCD ministries. The addition was completed at a cost in excess of $1,500,000 and dedicated September 24, 1995. Four of the six portables were removed, but the remaining two were purchased and presently serve as classrooms. During the years that followed, two additional portables have been purchased.
In 1991 the last one remaining of the Sisters of St. Joseph, the principal, Sr. Mary Eleanor Callaghan, left. In 1992 the convent of the Sisters of St. Joseph was sold marking the end of their affiliation with the school.
The fall of 1991 saw the school open with its first lay principal, Mrs. Elaine Baumgartner, whose 14 years as principal ended with the 2004-2005 school year. During that time the school grew to a record enrollment of 570 students in grades PK3 through 8th grade.
Mrs. Sandy Vahl, who taught first grade at St. Patrick, served as principal from 2005 through 2009. During her tenure she bought the Voluntary Prekindergarten or VPK program to the school. Mr. Mark Akerman led the school from 2009 to 2013 and was followed by our latest principal Mr. Frank Mackritis. Mr. Mackritis was a social studies teacher at St. Patrick from 2003 to 2008 and was the assistant principal at St. Francis High School from 2008 to 2013.
St. Patrick’s students enjoy an active Athletic Program as part of the Kingdom of the Son Conference. We have JV and Varsity teams in flag football, soccer, volleyball, cheerleading, basketball, track and field and golf. We have a full time Learning Lab dedicated to meeting the learning challenges of all our students. Our Spanish Language program is available to all our students in grades 3 - 8 and our Music program offers a traditional music curriculum with Choir options in the middle school.