History and Timeline
School of the Holy Child was established in 1904 as St. Walburga’s Academy in New York City. Girls and boys in grades kindergarten through grade twelve began classes on October 17, 1904.
In 1956, the Sisters purchased a 1930s Tudor-style mansion and the surrounding property in Westchester County where School of the Holy Child now exists. The new high school opened in 1957; and, although the mansion was beautiful, it was too small to accommodate the number of students and fulfill their extracurricular needs. Construction of a new addition, signaling Holy Child’s arrival in Westchester County, was completed in the late summer of 1959. It was “state-of-the-art.”
Over the course of the next thirty years, enrollment grew and the school continued to establish its presence in Westchester County. In 1992, the Sr. Jean O’Meara Middle School was added to the existing Upper School, and in 1995 the fifth grade was added—forming the independent school of today educating girls in grades 5 through 12. Since 2004, academic programs have been enhanced and upgrades made to the campus, including the construction of the Maureen Alison McGrath ’78 Memorial Library, as well as the addition of five classrooms, a large music room, a beautiful chapel, an art room, a new dining hall, and the “game-changing” Gryphon field.
Over the last several years, the diversity of the student body has expanded and student exposure to the full world around them has grown. Holy Child students have traveled around the world and visited Holy Child Network Schools in England, Ireland, France, Ghana and Nigeria, as well as welcomed girls from these Network Schools to Rye. Today, Holy Child students participate in Global Studies Programs in China, France, Italy and Spain, and service groups travel to the Dominican Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua, and Peru. In 2012, the school launched the Generoso Pope Italian Cultural Studies Program—a two-year program of language, history, research and study of Italian Culture which culminates in a two week summer trip to Italy for participating students. A year later, Holy Child received a grant from the E.E. Ford Foundation to expand the school's STEM program. Modeled after its humanities-based counterpart, the E.E. Ford Program in Architecture, Engineering and Design for the Common Good is a two-year program that focuses on the four areas of engineering, architecture and digital design.
Thanks to the generosity of dedicated donors, School of the Holy Child celebrated another significant milestone in the spring of 2015, when students, faculty and staff joined with trustees, alumnae, family, friends and local dignitaries for a Groundbreaking Ceremony for the construction of a new Field House, state-of-the-art Theatre and Design Studio for the E.E. Ford Program in Architecture, Engineering and Design for the Common Good.
Completed in the summer of 2015, the 22,000 square-foot Field House allows Holy Child teams to compete fully, fosters greater student participation in various activities, and provides a diversification of physical education classes. The Field House is home to the 11,000 square-foot Kelly Gymnasium, Giordano Fitness Center, Ciaccia Athletic Training Room, dance studio, locker rooms and The Kennedy Common Room. The state-of-the art Theatre was completed in January of 2016 and provides Holy Child students with a beautiful, new space that complements their exceptional talents.
In July of 2016, School of the Holy Child welcomed Melissa Dan, Ed.S as Head of School. She is a charismatic, collaborative leader with strong integrity and a vision for continued success.
Today, School of the Holy Child enrolls over 300 young women and is one of 24 schools throughout the United States, Europe and Africa that makeup the Holy Child Network of Schools.
- 1904: St. Walburga’s Academy [the school that would become Holy Child, Rye] is founded
- 1957: The Society purchases property in Rye, NY
- 1961: The freshman class of 1957 graduates after four years at the school’s new location
- 1970: Holy Child established a Board of Trustees
- 1982: Holy Child marks its 25th anniversary in Westchester County, NY
- 1992: Sr. Jean Marie O’Meara Middle School opens
- 1999: Ann F. Sullivan is named first lay Head of School
- 1999: Laptop Program is established
- 2003: Groundbreaking for the new Maureen Alison McGrath ’78 Memorial Library, new entrance, Upper School classrooms, music room and offices
- 2004: Holy Child celebrates its Centennial Year
- 2007: Holy Child celebrates 50 years in Westchester County with 333 students/Ribbon-cutting ceremony for Gryphon Field
- 2010-11 school year: The School reaches peak enrollment of 345 students
- 2012: Holy Child inaugurates the Generoso Pope Italian Cultural Studies Program with the Class of 2014
- 2013: Receives grant from the E.E. Ford Foundation, starting a Program in Architecture, Engineering and Design for the Common Good
- 2013: William C. Hambleton, Ed.D. named first male Head of School
- 2014: iPad Program is added in the Middle School
- 2015: Groundbreaking for the new Field House, state-of-the-art Theatre and Design Studio
- 2015: The Field House and Design Studio construction complete
- 2016: State-of-the-art Theatre opens
- 2016: Melissa Dan, Ed.S. named Head of School