One of the oldest schools in the San Gabriel Valley is celebrating ten decades of education. Sierra Madre’s TK-8th grade St. Rita School, a part of St. Rita’s Catholic Parish, first opened its Baldwin Avenue campus back on September 10, 1922.
A local congregation of The Sisters of Loretto were first enlisted at the schools to teach. The Sisters were already operating schools in Monrovia and central Los Angeles and Father Woodcutter, who founded the school, had heard reports of their success.
St. Rita School celebrated its first graduation ceremony in 1924 with a total of four eighth grade graduates. The total student population was about 12.
Classrooms were added on the corner of North Baldwin Avenue and Alegria Avenue on the campus of St. Rita Catholic Parish, which was founded in 1908. The school has grown substantially since the early years. Classrooms are now located on two different campuses—the East Campus with TK-3rd grades and the West Campus for 4th-8th graders.
St. Rita’s Principal Adela Solis, eager to share her excitement about the school’s birthday with the community, also shared her vision of the school’s next ten decades with Pasadena Now, saying, “This next 100 years, we are just going to keep moving forward as we have been these past 100 years. We have a stellar past, we have an excellent academic program, and a well-known sports program as well.”
As Solis explained, “The families here are very dedicated to the school. They send their children here because of the reputation that St Rita’s has. And we have a faculty and staff that are committed to giving our students what they truly deserve. And that is a strong, faith-filled academic program. And that is what we have.
“So,” she said, “I believe that in the next hundred years we are going to continue to grow. And obviously, we’re going to grow with technology, with innovative ideas. It’s just going to get better as we go along each year.”
The school will celebrate its ten decades this weekend with “A Taste of Sierra Madre”, which will feature local restaurants and stores, including The Arbour, Pie Life Pizza, Casa Del Rey, The Derby, Lotus Coffee & Tea, Nothing Bundt Cakes, The Bottle Shop, and The Old Goat Charcuterie.
Principal Solis is clearly thrilled to be back on campus, having first arrived just at the onset of the pandemic, with no students on campus.
As she recalled, “When school started last week and I asked the kids as they were arriving, I said, “Are you happy to be back?’ They were. They said, ‘You know what? We admit, we’re happy to be back!’ You could just see the look on their faces, that’s how they felt about being back. And they said it wasn’t just about their friends, but there was excitement about everything.”
The centennial event begins with a mass at St. Rita Parish on Saturday, September 10th at 5 p.m. The mass will be celebrated by Most Reverend Jose H. Gomez, Archbishop of Los Angeles. Joining him will be San Gabriel Regional Bishop, David O’Connell, St. Rita Pastor, Reverend Tom Baker and Former Pastor, Richard Krekelberg to mark the event.
Additionally, there will be special presentations at the end of the Mass by Sierra Madre Mayor Gene Goss, Mayor Pro-Tem Edward Garcia, and Council Members Kelly Kriebs and Robert Parkhurst. The school celebration will follow the mass, on the school’s East Campus.
St Rita’s School is located at 322 N. Baldwin, Sierra Made, (626) 355-6114.
For more information visit their website at https://st-ritaschool.org/.