Saint Albert Catholic Schools is the product of a dream and determination shared by the Catholic community. In 1960, the nine pastors of Council Bluffs and neighboring parishes began meeting to discuss a centrally located Catholic high school that would serve the needs of the Catholic community in Southwest Iowa. The idea for Saint Albert the Great Catholic High School was born.
After meeting regularly for over a year, the pastors received approval from Bishop Edward Daly to proceed. At an afternoon meeting on June 25, 1962, they announced that a Catholic school called Saint Albert the Great Catholic High School would be built. The creation of Saint Albert would combine the three existing Catholic high schools: St. Francis, Mount Loretto, and St. Joseph’s High School in Neola.
In 1962, construction for Saint Albert High School began on property purchased from the St. Joseph’s cemetery corporation. The facility was constructed in the shape of a Y and featured separate wings for girls and boys. A groundbreaking ceremony for Saint Albert the Great Catholic High School was held on May 15, 1963. The school was named after St. Albert, a thirteenth century bishop, scientist, and theologian who was the renowned teacher of St. Thomas Aquinas. Saint Albert chose Falcons as its mascots and later added a second mascot, Saintes, when girls’ athletics began. Father Dan Delehant became Saint Albert’s first principal.
In the fall of 1964, Saint Albert enrolled its first freshman and employed nine faculty members: three priests, sisters from Mount Loretto, St. Francis, and St. Patrick’s, and lay teachers. In 1965, 471 students were enrolled in 9th through 12th grade at Saint Albert.
The 1970s brought further consolidation. At the time, each parish in Council Bluffs operated its own grade school. For greater efficiency and to provide better education, the decision was made to combine the schools. Rev. Robert Walters, a priest from West Burlington, IA, conducted a study to prepare Council Bluffs for this consolidation. In the fall of 1969, Saint Francis, Saint Peter’s, and Saint Patrick’s elementary schools were merged. In 1972, all of the Council Bluffs’ Catholic elementary schools were consolidated into one system named Saint Albert Catholic Schools.
Rev. Lawrence Beeson facilitated the consolidation and placed Saint Albert Kindergarten through 12th grade students in three locations. Kindergarten through 3rd grade used Holy Family’s facility; 4th through 6th grade used Queen of Apostles’ building; and 7th through 12th grade used the Saint Albert Gleason Campus.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Saint Albert continued to grow. A second gym, called the auxiliary gym, was built in 1987. In 1987, Saint Albert also purchased the DeForest grade school from Council Bluffs Public Schools. Saint Albert Pre-K through 3rd grade students attending the Holy Family facility were moved to this location. New music and art rooms as well as state-of-the-art science classrooms and labs were added in 1995. In 1999, intermediate students were moved from the 4th Avenue location to Saint Albert High School.
Recently, Saint Albert Catholic Schools has begun an exciting new chapter in the school’s history. In 2009, the school opened a new elementary addition and the state-of-the-art Sheryl K. Johnson Child Care Center on its Gleason Campus; as a result, Saint Albert is the only school is Southwest Iowa to offer a quality Catholic education for students from cradle to college. Building on nearly 50 years of academic excellence and its strong Catholic roots, Saint Albert Catholic Schools continues teaching its traditions of superior education, strong spirituality, commitment to community and outstanding enrichment programs to students today.