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St. Ursula Academy has a rich history. Explore it a decade at a time by clicking a year below and then browsing through the timeline. Full stories, photos, and links are available by clicking a section of the timeline. If you have suggestions for an addition, e-mail them to Jill Grever Cahill, Director of Marketing at email@example.com.
The Living Century of SUA – Alumnae guest speakers
representing the decades of the last century share their
experiences in this storytelling trip through the ages.
Saint Ursula Academy
- Twenty sisters of the newly founded Ursulines of Cincinnati purchased McMillan Street property and established St. Ursula Convent and Academy. Mother Fidelis Coleman becomes the founder of the Ursulines of Cincinnati; she serves as superior and handles all of the business matters for the academy. Among her many achievements was bringing the Senior Tea tradition to the academy.
- St. Ursula Academy opened its doors in September 1910 with 63 children in kindergarten through the eighth-grade. One hundred years later, the schools have been divided into St. Ursula Academy (Walnut Hills) with about 700 students, and St. Ursula Villa (Mt. Lookout) with 450 children.
- Mother Baptista Freaner was her co-founder and 1st Directress, oversaw the school curriculum. She was known for her deep faith and love of God and others. She had tremendous respect for others and had learned the true meaning of care for the individual when she cared for wounded soldiers during the Civil War. Her leadership helped to establish the Ursulines' reputation as outstanding educators.
- Sisters purchased the William Henry Harrison house from the Schuster-Martin School of Drama on the corner of Upland and E. McMillan for their school, enrolling 73 students in grades 1-12, including boys in the grade school. Hollywood actor Tyrone Power and his sister Anne ’32 were among the first students.
- The sisters moved to their present address at 1339 E. McMillan. The academy and convent occupied two Victorian mansions. The Worcester family had previously owned the east side home, and the residence on the west side had been the home of William Henry Harrison’s family..
- SUA Alumnae Association founded.
- The chapel was built connecting the two homes due to the generosity of Maria Longworth of Rockwood Pottery. Sister Mary Carmel McLellan, O.S.U., who had been Dean of Women at Cornell University prior to joining the convent, had designed the chapel. It was dedicated on the feast of St. Angela Merici, foundress of the Ursuline order.
- Sr. Bernard Morgan served as 2nd Directress from 1916-1925. Sr. Bernard and Mother Baptista travelled to Ireland where they recruited 18 young women who swelled the ranks of the Ursulines of Cincinnati.
- World War I prompted a call for action on the home front. Students and sisters rolled up their sleeves and did lots of knitting to make warm clothes to be sent to U.S. troops overseas who were serving in extremely cold climates.
- Women’s suffrage movement – while women nationwide fought for their right to vote, the sisters’ leadership was instrumental in raising the level of women’s education.
- Sisters of Irish heritage migrated to the United States and entered St. Ursula Convent.
- Dedication of new Austin Organ installed in SUA Chapel, in celebration of Mother Baptista's golden jubilee.
- Mr. John Fehring, a highly accomplished choral director, began teaching music at St. Ursula until the early-1960s. He became a legend at the academy and is most distinctively remembered as the founder of the Christmas Carol Program which continues today. He introduced such favorites as “’Twas in the Winter Cold” and “The French Noel,” which can still be heard every year at the Christmas Concert.
- As Director of Music for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, he linked St. Ursula to cathedral liturgies and national radio broadcasts.
- Sister Mary Carmel McLellan, O.S.U., academic director of the academy, was the first woman to receive a doctorate in education from the University of Cincinnati Teachers College. It was she who set professional standards and oversaw the implementation of them at St. Ursula Academy. The academy expanded its college-preparatory program.
- Mother Gertrude Creamer, 3rd Directress, served as principal until 1940. She was much loved by her students and their parents, and she was an early voice encouraging girls to realize their power as Christian women.
- St. Ursula Academy was accredited by the state of Ohio as a “First Class” school
- Parents and Teachers Association (P.T.A.) founded.
- St. Ursula Convent and Academy celebrated its 25th anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral and a concert at the Hotel Alms Ballrrom.
- The Great Depression brought lower enrollment and tight budgeting, yet the school added Miss Roberta Foley part-time for elocution and drama. She proved herself to be one of the academy’s iconsâ€”a woman who at retirement in 1977 left behind a legacy of dedication to her craft, a sense of decorum and love of literature that her students would be unlikely to forget.
- Sr. Mary Helen Sanker (or Mother Helen), 4th Directress, became principal and served until 1955 continuing to teach until her retirement in 1990. She became one of the most loved figures and significant teachers of English and writing in the academy’s history. She also served as Mother Superior, and left behind a legacy of loving kindness, family spirit and nurturing care for the individual that the academy continues to espouse today. At the 1983 graduation ceremony Sr. Mary Helen delivered the commencement address; and she delivered the invocation at the 1987 and 1990 graduation ceremonies. Sr. Mary Helen died in 1995 but her memory has left its mark on numerous alumnae and community members.
- This was a period of steady growth in numbers of sisters and students. The sisters’ building fund makes future capital improvements possible.
- Construction of the gymnasium-auditorium had begun. It was dedicated and named St. Angela Hall in 1955.
- Two adjoining boarding houses on Upland Place were purchased and renovated. They were named St. Genevieve and St. Joseph. These houses provided dormitory space for the growing number of sisters as well as classrooms for the increased enrollment.
- Gymnasium-auditorium (current theatre) was built and used for everything from assemblies, dances, Senior Tea and intramural sports.
- Sr. Rose Angela Boehle ’36, 5th Directress, became principal until 1966. Responding to the cultural revolution of the 60s, she had the foresight to leap into progressive thinking. During the Civil Rights Movement she had every student read the book “Black Like Me” to help them empathize with people who were oppressed by racism. A forward-thinking woman, she also took the students out into the local professional community to experience what career options might be opening to them.
- Sisters celebrated the 150th anniversary of Saint Angela’s canonization. Academy students presented an original pageant of her life.
- The R.K. LeBlond estate in Mount Lookout was purchased by the sisters from the Archdiocese of Cincinnati and named St. Ursula Villa. Over the next 10 years as additions were built, the elementary school division gradually moved to St. Ursula Villa.
- St. Ursula Academy and Convent celebrated its 50th anniversary with Mass at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral and a reception in St. Angela Hall.
- Following the passage of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 the door was opened to women’s athletic programs to benefit from the opportunities for college scholarships to include women as well as men. In the following years many seniors continue to benefit from these athletic scholarships.
- “Professor Phonics Gives Sound Advice” and related materials were developed by Sister Monica Foltzer (copyright 1965 and 1987, frequently reprinted). “A Sound Track to Reading” (for older children and adults) and teachers’ manuals also were produced and reproduced over the years. Sr. Jo Ann Hoffmann illustrated all written materials. An endorsement from educator Marva Collins during a network television interview rocketed Professor Phonics to a national market. Orders poured in. Sister Monica accepted invitations to train teachers across the country. Home-schoolers appreciated the ease of using the materials. Professor Phonics gave an important boost to St. Ursula’s revenues. The Sisters sold the business in 1997.
- Construction began on the 3-story school building in front of the gym on the east wing. It was completed in 1967 and classes moved into the new building.
- Sr. Ignatius Gieske '40, 6th Directress, became principal until 1974.
- The Black Student Union was initiated by the growing number of African American students.
- The Bulldog is chosen as the official mascot for St. Ursula Academy. The academy is the first GGCL team to have a mascot.
- Sr. Judith Wimberg ’58 became 7th Principal and served until 1986. She was well known for her high standards of academic excellence and zeal in developing a first class faculty. Under her management the academy achieved North Central State certification, the beginning of computerization of records, and the appearance of dynamic speakers on campus.
- Academy is accredited by North Central Association.
- Academy offered college-preparatory courses for students with learning disabilities. The program began in 1980 under the direction of faculty member Geri Walsh and soon became one of the academy's most successful programs. Students with a variety of learning disabilities are taught by skilled teachers who address the students’ individual needs. They are tutored, take their tests and receive as much assistance as they need. The LD students are mainstreamed into the college preparatory, honors and Advanced Placement classes. The educational requirements of LD students are identical to the educational requirements of their classmates. LD students have proven track records of college and career success.
- Seventy-fifth Anniversary capital fund drive, the first in the history of St. Ursula, began.
- St. Ursula Convent and Academy celebrated it 75th anniversary with a Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral and reception at St. Ursula. Extensive renovation took place in offices, classrooms, dining room and sisters’ living quarters.
- Dr. Marian DeLollis became 8th Principal and served until 1988.
- Sr. Katherine Ann Beimesche ’62 became 9th Principal and served until 1994. During her tenure the Kairos retreats began, as well as the mission trips to Appalachia and Texas. Fr. Dan Anderson, O.F.M. became the school chaplain; the music and drama departments enhanced their programs; new AP courses were added, and the number of National Merit finalist increased. Enrollment increased from 388 in 1987-88 school year to 464 in 1993-94 school year; and the academyâ€™s reputation reached new heights with its first athletic state championships.
- The chapel, which was dedicated 75 years prior, was renovated. In this spiritual heart of the convent, the academy celebrates liturgies, the Villa its First Communions, Confirmations, and graduations, and many alumnae with their weddings.
- The soccer team won its first state championship.
- The Handing on Our Heritage Campaign was launched with a goal of $1.75 million.
- St. Ursula Academy of Cincinnati, Inc., was separately incorporated by the sisters and governed by the board of trustees composed of lay and Ursuline members.
- The academy orchestra was formed.
- The academy receives Buddy LaRosa High School Athlete of the Year award.
- Ms. Patricia Leonard served as 10th Principal until 1996.
- The new multi-use athletic field was dedicated at the corner of Ashland and McMillan Streets.
- Frances R. Romweber became 11th Principal until 2009. With a passion for academic excellence she oversaw many initiatives including the implementation of the collegiate model 4-Bell Day, the Tablet PC program for all students and faculty, and the National School of Excellence Blue Ribbon recognition. She consistently hired and retained only the best teachers. Mrs. Romweber inspired the students in the spirit of St. Angela with her daily prayers over the PA system, and with prayers to the parents via the weekly Parent Bulletin. She exemplified St. Angela’s genuine love and care for the individual as she daily reminded the students that “You are so loved!”
- Judith A. Wimberg ’58 was hired as President of St. Ursula Academy. During her tenure the academy has grown in enrollment, academic achievement, and spiritual enrichment with the inception of “The Academy Alum” and the Ursuline Spirit Initiatives. To provide for the rapid growth and best educational facilities, she oversaw the campus growth which included the addition of the Fine Arts Building, Schott Hall, the Gymnasium/Convocation Center, the acquisition of the former Engineering Society building and the building on E. McMillan and Bell Place. In addition, to ensure the future of the academy, she was instrumental in achieving an increased endowment that would allow young women to attend St. Ursula Academy despite their inability to afford the tuition. Because of her contributions as an educator, principal and administrator to the young women of St. Ursula Academy, as well as the young men at St. Xavier High School where she formerly taught, and the Greater Cincinnati community, she was named one of the Cincinnati Enquirer’s “Women of the Year” in 2007.
- The volleyball team sets a new state record with it’s fifth consecutive Division II state title. Since 1991, SUA has won 12 state championships in golf, soccer, swimming and diving, and volleyball.
- The former W. Mack Johnson Funeral Home was purchased and became the Fine Arts Building and Carriage House. Five classrooms and several SUA offices are housed in FAB.
- Scholar Athlete GGCL-Grey Division is achieved.
- St. Ursula athletic achievements included Scholar Athlete GGCL Grey Division – fifth consecutive year since 2005; All Sport League Trophy – Grey Division – seventh consecutive year since 1993; and All-Sport League Trophy – Scarlet Division – seventh time since 2000.
- The school community undertook the $6.5 million Generations Campaign. When the campaign closed in 2003 it had exceeded its goal by $1 million. The $7.5 million had been reached in 2003 in time for the dedication of the gymnasium/convocation center; $6.5 million was allocated to the building of Schott Hall and the gymnasium/convocation center, and to support the endowment program.
- St. Genevieve and St. Joseph buildings were demolished and Margaret Unnewehr Schott Hall was built on the same grounds. Tom Neyer, Sr. was gratefully recognized for being a true shepherd of the building project from start to finish. In spite of being retired, as a volunteer on-site project manager, Mr. Neyer ensured that everything was on time, at budget, and that the finished product would be a building both structurally sound and an aesthetic addition to St. Ursula’s campus and the East Walnut Hills community.
- Volleyball team won Division I state championship.
- Several classes moved into Schott Hall in April; it was officially dedicated on Sept. 16. Archbishop Daniel Pilarcyzk presided over the celebratory Mass and dedication. Mrs. Schott joined the St. Ursula community members for the blessing of the new 20-room academic building. Mrs. Schott donated $1 million toward the building, and $4 million was donated by numerous St. Ursula Academy families and friends.
- Academy achieved National School of Excellence Blue Ribbon School distinction for 2001-2002 school year.
- Ground broken in May for new Gymnasium/Convocation Center at Ashland and East McMillan Street. Bell Place lot is surfaced to accommodate student parking.
- Academy hired fulltime diversity director, Toilynn O’Neal ’90 to partner with administration in assisting African-American and other minority students and families with academic advisement, support, personal and social concerns to ensure academic success. She also assists in organizing in-service training for teachers and staff pertaining to diversity and race awareness issues.
- Dedication was held on Aug. 10 for St. Ursula Academy Gymnasium Convocation Center with a Mass and continental breakfast. Marge Schott, who donated $500,000 toward the facility attended the celebration. The 30,000 square-foot, 1,000-seat state-of-the-art facility accommodates all indoor athletic events, school assemblies and liturgies, and school-wide events.
- Volleyball team won Division I state and national championship, for a total of eight state championships.
- Academy acquired the former Herman Schneider Engineering Society building next door to academy. Renovation and future use to be determined.
- St. Ursula celebrated its first Olympic gold medal winner – Heather Mitts ’96 who was a member of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team (also on St. Ursula’s 1993 state soccer championship team).
- Ensemble theatre chosen to represent the U.S. at Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland in 2004 & 2007.
- A student received Buddy LaRosa High School Athlete of the Year. This award was also received by a student in 1992, 94, 96, and 99.
- Academy celebrated its 95th anniversary in the gymnasium convocation center. The students all received cupcakes that were configured in the shape of the number “95” on the gym floor.
- The Ursulines of Cincinnati moved from St. Ursula Convent and their second floor living quarters were converted into several classrooms. Air conditioning was installed in the classrooms and in the chapel.
- Sr. Gabriel Grimes died at the age of 100. One of three sisters who came from Ireland to join the Ursulines of Cincinnati, Sr. Gabriel was one of the community’s most loved. She and her sisters, Sr. Michael and Sr. Raphael were known as the “Archangels” and will always be remembered fondly.
- St. Ursula Academy Vocal Ensemble – SUAVE – performed for the fourth time at New York’s Carnegie Hall (also in 1999, 2001 & 2004).
- Twenty-six seniors received National Merit Recognition – 10 are finalists. A junior received a perfect ACT score.
- Soccer team won state championship for second year in a row. St. Ursula celebrated a second Olympic gold medal win by Heather Mitts ’96. St. Ursula achieved its 18th state athletic championship since 1991 in golf, soccer, swimming & diving, volleyball, and cross country.
- Harold Meyer Good Sportsmanship Award from OHSAA awarded to St. Ursula Academy – fourth award since 2005.
- The academy purchased the former Mergard’s Bowling Alley (later the Community Resource Center) on the corner of Bell Place and East McMillan Street to be remodeled as a student center and library.
- The gymnasium/convocation center was renamed The Harold C. Schott Gymnasium/Convocation Center for the accumulated gifts totaling $1 million from the Harold C. Schott Foundation.
- Judy O’Donnell begins her first year as 12th Principal. She has been at St. Ursula for over 11 years as a guidance counselor, religion teacher and learning disabilities teacher.
- 89% of Students have received over $23 million in college scholarships. The Class of 2009 has 26 students (13%) who were honored by the National Merit Corporation and 10 who were named finalists. The class valedictorian achieved a perfect ACT test score last year; four seniors have received full-ride college scholarships including a Danforth Scholarship at Washington University; and 12 girls have been accepted into the University of Cincinnati DAAP (Design, Art, Architecture and Planning) program.
- 2009 Ursulines’ Archives was moved, reorganized and renovated on the 3rd floor of the St. Ursula Convent.
- Celebrating 100 years SUA ~ A Century of Faith, Integrity and Courage.