These young women of the Class of 1946 were ready to take on the world, having traveled the educational pathway of their choice with either an emphasis on academics or commercial skills.
Notre Dame students have learned to navigate the streets of downtown San Jose for 165 years and celebrated graduation in the heart of the city after four years of strong sisterhood.
Since its founding in 1851, Notre Dame High School in downtown San Jose has stood as the premier school for young women of the Silicon Valley. Guided by the wisdom of Saint Julie Billiart, foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, we have provided a relevant and exciting curriculum, teaching young women “what they need to know for life.” Whether for the 1850s or the fast-paced 21st century, our mission does not change: we ensure our students are armed with the skills and knowledge needed to navigate and excel in their rapidly evolving environment.
Notre Dame High School is the oldest private secondary school for young women in California. The school is owned by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, a congregation founded by Saint Julie Billiart in Amiens, France, in 1804. The Sisters came to California in 1851 at the invitation of the Most Reverend Joseph Alemany, O.P., Archbishop of San Francisco, to establish in San Jose, then the state capitol, a college, upper and lower residence schools and a high school for day students on extensive property on Santa Clara Street. The location was chosen at the advice of the Jesuit Fathers who had recently opened a school for boys at nearby Mission Santa Clara. Notre Dame opened on August 4, 1851.
Thirty years of continuous growth in student population necessitated the expansion of the school facilities in 1958. Construction was begun on two buildings: Julie Billiart Hall, a multi-purpose structure serving as auditorium, cafeteria and gymnasium; and Madonna Hall, a two-story classroom building. Over the years, the growing student population led to the renovation of Julie Billiart Hall, the addition of computer and photography labs, the use of O'Connor Mansion for offices and classrooms, as well as the creation of Pardini Park. Madonna Hall was renamed Donnelly Hall in honor of Sister Mary Emmanuel Donnelly's years of dedicated service to Notre Dame.