History & Tradition
On October 8, 1847, the School Sisters of Notre Dame began teaching in their first school in the United States St. James Parochial School. The original school was operated in the basement of old St. James Church. The sisters at this time had charge of the education of the girls only. The boys were taught by laymen. On August 13, 1863, permission was received from superiors in Rome to build a new school for St. James Parish. The building operations were deferred for a time because of the troubles resulting from the Civil War. The cornerstone for the new building was laid on May 5, 1864.
In, 1856, the decision was made to invite the Brothers of Mary to St. James. On March 8, 1873, four Brothers of Mary arrived from Dayton, Ohio to take over the education of the boys in the school. In 1925, the official re-opening of the new school took place. Two new wings were added. The former entrances were replaced, presenting a more aesthetic appearance. The building could now house the entire school body - both boys and girls. From 1925 until the early 1950's, it appears that the school changed very little. We do know however, that the School Sisters of Notre Dame began to teach the boys in primary grades from 1930 on. Neighboring St. John’s School closed in the mid-fifties and it is presumed that St. James absorbed some pupils at that time. The last mass at St. John’s was in July of 1966, at this time Saint James School became Saints James & John School. For a period of years, a two-year commercial school was in operation on the third floor of the building. When this operation ceased in 1966, all of the classrooms began to be used for Ss. James & John’s School. According to documents researched by the Archdiocesan Urban Task Force Committee, Ss. James & John School is one of the oldest Black Catholic School in Baltimore.
In 1973, as a part of the Archdiocesan plan to save schools in the city. SS. James & John, St. Katharine of Siena and St. Wenceslaus Schools joined to form the Queen of Peace Cluster. St. Wenceslaus’ merged with St. Katharine of Siena in 1986, leaving only two schools in the cluster. SS. James & John and St. Katharine of Siena. In 1989, the concept of the Interparochial School was introduced by Archbishop Borders. The Queen of Peace Cluster then became, the Queen of Peace Interparochial Schools, Inc. The Interparochial School is formed by combining parishes and schools. Representatives from each parish and school make up the School Board which is responsible for the governance, maintenance, and policy making of the schools. These parishes that are a part of the Queen of Peace Interparochial Schools are St. Vincent de Paul, St. Francis Xavier, St. Wenceslaus, St. Veronica, St. Ignatius and St. Ann. These parishes also give financial support to the schools by contributing five percent of their offertory collection for tuition assistance to needy families.
In 2010 St. Katharine of Siena School closed and SS. James & John Catholic School added a Middle School consisting of grades 6, 7 and 8 to the elementary school. The middle school is located on the third floor of the building. Currently SS. James & John Catholic School has a student population of 202 students ranging from Pre-Kindergarten 3 year olds through 8th grade. Over 80 percent of the students receive tuition assistance from various Scholarship Funds. The majority of our students are African-American and come from a variety of areas in Baltimore City and Baltimore County. The Federal Government provides a nutrition program, which offers free and/or reduced lunches for over 185 students. A Maryland State certified After-School Program is available for parents from 3:00 p.m.-5:30 p.m. each school day. Services are received from the Maryland Textbook Funding, Title I, Title II, and Title IV Federal Government Program to assist students who are in need of remediation in reading and math.
For more than a century, Saints James & John Catholic School has continued to make a difference in the development of the children it serves. Children leave SS. James & John School with positive self-images, strong academic skills, a true religious commitment and a love for learning. SS. James & John Catholic School celebrates having provided One Hundred and Seventy One Years of Catholic Education to the children of Baltimore.