St. James School located at 140 North Avenue in Highwood, under
the pastorhood of Rev. F. J. Magner, opened its doors on September
15, 1925 to 159 students from the Highwood community. The
sisters of Loretto, under the direction of Sister Mary Sylvester,
the first principal, assumed teaching responsibilities at St. James
School. Graduates from the class of 1926 included : Margaret
Jacks, Doris Kehoe, Katherine McLeran, Richard O’Connor,
Edward Steffin, and Elizabeth Welsh.
In 1949, four classrooms were added to the school to ease the crowded
conditions. A modern convent was also built to house the Sisters
of Loretto, who had been commuting from Highland Park. In 1958,
eight-classroom addition was built under the director of Reb. Msgr.
James D. Gleeson. A paved parking lot, a playground area, a
library and a community auditorium were also constructed at this time.
The Sisters of Loretto continued their teaching duties until 1968.
When Rev. Joseph Curielli became pastor, the School Sisters of Notre
Dame, under Sister Carmel Marie, assumed the teaching responsibilities.
A year later Sister Julie became principal . In 1980, Mrs. Jean
O’Brien took over as principal. A preschool program was
instituted in 1983. She remained principal until 1993 when Ms. Mary Kay
Tschanz became principal. Mary Kay Tschanz was principal from 1993
until 2011 when she lost the fight after a long battle with ALS.
Mrs. Deborah Dedeo became principal in 2011 and retired in 2013.
At that time, Mrs. Mary Vitulli became principal of ST. James School.
Mrs. Vitulli has a long history with St. James first being hired as a teacher in 1992 and
then added the responsibilities of Assistant Principal in 1994.
Fr. Thomas Baldonieri is pastor of St. James Church.
St. James School has a proud tradition of academic excellence.
Many of St. James' graduates have chosen professional and interesting career paths.
The list includes doctors, nurses, lawyers, certified public accountants,
bank presidents, teachers, business owners just to name a few. Students of St. James
are exposed to a diverse, quality educational experience which includes an
emphasis upon the basics and which encourages decision-making,
creativity, coping and a sense of responsibility.
Over the past decade St. James School has successfully integrated technology into
all aspects of their Pre-Kindergarten - 8th grade programs. SMART boards have been
implemented in every classroom and in correlation with STEM: Science, Technology,
Engineering, and Mathematics, a new robotics program has been instituted.
Additionally, as a faith-based school, St. James is an extension of the family. The
faculty at St. James strives to work with the parents to instill in each child solid Catholic values:
integrity, honesty, self-discipline and respect for self and others.