History of Saint John the Evangelist Regional Catholic School
Saint John the Evangelist Grade School was built on Jefferson Street (formerly Center Street) in 1912-1913 under the pastorate of Father Bernard P. Kenna. The dedication took place on September 7, 1913, and classes began that same month. Saint John School was Uniontown's first parochial school.
The new school, built directly across the street from the church, was a red brick building, three stories high. It had six large classrooms and a spacious third-floor auditorium with a stage and a small balcony. A frame house next door was acquired for a convent for the Sisters of Saint Joseph, Baden, who originally staffed the school.
In 1914, high school classes were added to the curriculum. Having both high school and grade school classes in the same building, coupled with increasing enrollment, eventually led to a parish building program initiated by Pastor Bernard P. Kenna.
In 1935, Father Thomas J. Dunn became the pastor. Under his direction, the decision to build a new school was made. It would be located on property behind the church owned by the estate of the late Congressman Allen Cooper. Included was the Cooper mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue to be used as a convent and possibly for additional classrooms.
The new two-story brick building had eight classrooms and a large gymnasium in the basement. With the completion of the grade school, Saint John High School took over the entire building on Jefferson Street. This led to a greatly expanded program of extracurricular activities including forensics, choir, yearbook, catechism teaching, C.Y.O., and especially athletics.
Under the tutelage of James "Lash" Nesser, who coached for a quarter-century, the Saint John Eagles won the Diocesan championship year after year. In 1965, they won the state championship, and in their final year, they advanced to the state public-parochial finals.
Rising costs and the problems of maintaining an old building finally forced the closing of Saint John High School, the last class graduating in 1976. Saint John Elementary School has continued in operation for generations of boys and girls, a tribute to the foresight and sacrifice of priests, religious, teachers, parents, parishioners, and other friends of the school.
Growing enrollment and enhanced programs created the need for more space. The carriage house for the convent, known as the "music room" for years, was converted into the first kindergarten in 1977. Locker rooms were converted into additional classrooms, and additional classrooms were established in the Saint Francis Center, the former Trinitarian Convent, in 1992. Recent additions to the school program include a preschool for three and four-year-old children since the 1990-91 school years and a learning support program for students with special needs in the 1993-94 school year.
The gymnasium was restored in the fall of 1991. In the summer of 1993, the main entrance of the school was reconstructed and equipped with a ramp. Side entrances were rebuilt adding a ramp and planters in the summer of 1994. The school and gymnasium roofs were replaced along with air conditioning installed in the gymnasium in 1997-98.
The main school building, located next to St. John Church and rectory, is a two-story brick structure with a multi-functional lower level. This building houses eight classrooms and teachers' workroom. The lower level houses the gymnasium, which also serves as the cafeteria, one conference room and one computer lab. The administrative offices are in the lower level of the school. It also houses the nurse's office and guidance office. Preschool is in the former carriage house of the parish convent. A room for the Kindergarten students was built in the basement of the former carriage house. Speech therapy, remedial math/reading and learning support are in the upper level of the carriage house.