Notre Dame du Sacre School


 

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The educating of children in the Holy Family Church was, at the time, not established until years after the building of the churches. "Catholic education and the preservation of the French heritage were important" (Senay 7). A plan for a school was always thought of, but it wasn't accomplished. There was a difficulty with money, as well as a lack of nuns to teach the students. Action was soon taken by Father  Guillaume Morin. Father Morin, active in the Holy Family Parish, wrote a letter to the Sisters of St. Anne in Lachine, Canada requesting that nuns come to North Adams and teach the children at the Holy Family Parish. The Sisters of St. Anne replied back saying, "there was no qualified personnel available." It would take an additional five years to succeed in a school plan.

 On March 7, the Sisters of St. Anne finally agreed to come to North Adams if they could have housing and a salary of $300.00 a year for each sister present.

On May 5, a contract for a new school satisfying the French-Canadians was signed. The contract was given to Joseph Landry, who lived in Chicopee. The plan was to include a second story addition to the old parish hall and additions in the front and rear of the building. Once again, W. B. Plunkett donated part of his property to help out. Across the street from the church, Plunkett donated a house to be used as a convent. This house was known to be called "Les Maisons de six couleurs." It referred to a cluster of six old mill houses across the church. Furniture and other material objects were donated by parishioners to suit the convent.

The Sisters of St. Anne began their teachings on August 30, 1890 at the request of Father Louis LeDuc, who succeeded Father Morin.The school plan was finally followed through. The parish, at this time, consisted of 500 families. On September 2, 1890 there were 307 students enrolled in the new school; by September 8, there were over 400.

The school wasn't consistent with its placing because on September 6, 1898 it moved. Now, the school was located in a better 3-story building that had 15 classrooms in total. It would now be the Notre Dame School. The enrollment of students, once again, was increased. In 1899, there were 600 pupils and in 1911, the school reached its peak at 740 students. 

The school taught the students in English in the morning, which studied arithmetic, geography, and U.S. history. When it became lunch time, they went home and ate. After, they returned and were taught French-Canadian culture that consisted of art, music, Canadian history, church history, and French grammar. Although both languages were taught, the teachers didn't teach in both languages.  

 The new school, that served the French-Canadian immigrant group, operated for over 35 long years. It had difficulty in supplying nuns to teach and it had a decrease in student enrollment, which made it difficult to keep the school running efficiently. On June 8, 1969, the Sisters of St. Anne left, which dramatically decreased the enrollment of pupils. It dropped from its highest point of 785 to 214 because of the leaving nuns as well as a decrease in religious aspects. Notre Dame then closed its doors for good. 

The Notre Dame School that served the French-Canadian students

1875 - 1975

[ Picture is courtesy of Shirley Bruso ]