Southern Tier Catholic School

Southern Tier Catholic School is a regional Catholic school in the Diocese of Buffalo established in 1987 as a consolidation of the two remaining parochial schools in southern Cattaraugus County, St. John's of Olean and St. Mary of the Angels. Diocesan parish schools that had been at the other area Catholic Churches had closed at various points prior to that time.  Southern Tier Catholic School originally had campuses at St. John's and St. Mary's. In 1995, all of the students were moved to the St. Mary's campus. In 2002, the junior high school classes of Southern Tier Catholic School were moved to Archbishop Walsh High School. Subsequently, in 2009, the decision was made to house all of Southern Tier Catholic School in the Archbishop Walsh building along with the high school students of what had now been renamed Archbishop Walsh Academy.


The Montessori three to four year sequence starting from ages 3 to 5 years allows children to achieve the necessary components to not only transition smoothly to further education, but guides them to self discovery, awareness, confidence and adaptability to succeed within the classroom's walls and beyond. The Montessori certified teachers currently involved in the program have continued in their roles at Southern Tier Catholic School.

The Montessori Children's House was started by Craig Zuckerman in a small grocery store front on Johnson Street in Olean. He wanted to offer parents a unique learning experience for their preschool age children. With a group of 9 children he opened the first Montessori classroom in Olean in September 1974, with the assistance of fellow teacher, Ann Marie Costello, and intern, Elvira Farrow. The program has seen periods of great growth and suffered years with limited enrollment, and yet Montessori Children's House continues to this day. In January 2011, Southern Tier Catholic School announced a merger between the schools and the Montessori Children's House of Olean whereby the Montessori program moved to the campus of STCS and Walsh and began offering their full program in February 2011 as part of STCS. 

Archbishop Walsh Academy

Catholic secondary education in the Olean, New York area had its initial roots in the mid-nineteenth century. It is a heritage of which Archbishop Walsh is apart.  Catholic Secondary Education for boys began when the Franciscan Friars established St. Bonaventure Preparatory High School in the 1800's. Shortly after the founding of the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany started, so too did the St. Elizabeth's Academy for girls. Both schools continued into the twentieth century. St. Bonaventure High School closed in 1930 after the great fire at the University. The Franciscan Sisters continued to educate young women at the academy until 1961.

In October of 1957, hundreds of people gathered at Christ the King Seminary to hear Bishop Leo R. Smith announce that a central Catholic high school was to be established in Olean. The school was to be named after Archbishop Thomas J. Walsh, who had died five years earlier. He also had deep roots in the Southern Tier.  In the spring of 1958, Mr. Leo Keenan was the general chairman of a committee to raise funds for the building of the school. In September of that same year, the Very Reverend Celsus Wheeler, OFM, broke ground for the school.  Fr. Kenneth Dorr, OFM, was appointed principal and Sister Aileen Marie, OSSF, assisted him. The school began its co-institutional classes in 1958 in St. Mary of the Angels Academy in Olean.

The cornerstone for the school was laid in 1959. Local newspapers and some mementos for the late Archbishop Walsh were placed in the stone. Students began classes in the partially-completed building in 1959. It was soon dedicated by Bishop Joseph Burke.  The Class of 1961 was the first to graduate. In the first yearbook for this graduating class, the seniors noted: "Our history will not be like that of any other class ... ours was a new school and everything we did would become foundation and tradition. This is the thrill of having the freedom to begin the customs that will become the cherished traditions of the years to come. As the first graduating class of Archbishop Walsh High School, it has been a privilege to set precedence. For this, to our parents, to our teachers, to our school, we are grateful."

Under the guidance of the Franciscan Friars and the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany, students were taught their religious faith, excelled in academics, and gained recognition in high school athletics.  In 1969, the Franciscan Friars withdrew from their educational ministry at Archbishop Walsh. The Franciscan Sisters decided to remain at the school. Bishop James McNulty asked Fr. John Ryan and a team of Diocesan priests to teach with the Franciscan Sisters at Walsh.

In 1975, Fr. Ryan was appointed the Superintendent of Education for the Diocese of Buffalo. Fr. Edward Muerder became the principal. He continued to teach Religion and German. Father Muerder resigned in 1982 to take a full-time position as a pastor and  Sister Annette Mirco, OSSF, was appointed principal in 1982. Sister Annette ably guided and led the school in the spirit of St. Francis of Assisi.  Mr. Edward Butler became the school's first lay principal in 1990. In 1991, Bishop Edward Head asked all the Diocesan high schools to become independent and as such, he established the school's Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees still exists to assist the principal in leading the school.

Since the announcement of the school's founding, the alumni of Archbishop Walsh have become parents, priests, religious, and people dedicated to God and country. They have labored in many professions: science, the arts, government, business and the world of technology. They live in many countries and here in Olean - looking favorably on their education from Archbishop Walsh High School and cherishing the past and looking forward to supporting its future.


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