It was thought that a parish without a parochial school is but half equipped. On October 10, 1883, it was decided to build a school with permission already having been given to collect money for this purpose. Excavations were begun on December 17. The first school was a two story veneer structure and was arranged that the Sisters also used it as a residence. It was completed in less than a year, dedicated on November 2, 1884, and occupied at once. On February 26, 1888, a meeting was held to discuss enlargement of the school. It was decided to double the size. A second story room in this addition was large enough to be used as a meeting room and parish hall. This addition was begun that same spring and completed by the beginning of August. In 1904, the number of pupils in school increased so much it was decided that a new and up-to-date school was needed. Permission was given by the Bishop and provincial and plans for a new school that contained eight large classrooms, a basement, and a dramatic hall were drawn up. Excavation began on October 5, 1904. On March 28, 1905, the cement work began. The bricks were made at the Humphrey brickyard and cost $6.60 per thousands, hauled to the church. The stone came from the Florens Stone Quarries of Irving, KS. The school was under roof by winter and ready for dedication in the spring. On May 17, 1906, the new school (our present grade school) was solemnly dedicated by the Franciscan Provincial, Fr. Hugolinus Storff. The new school cost $35,855 and is 110 x 70 feet, with the east annex being 24 x 42 feet. Classes began in the new school on May 21, 1906. At this time, the school only had seven grades. The eighth grade and three years of high school were added in 1909, with the fourth year of high school added in 1910. In 1914, the existing High School Course was changed to a Commercial Course. Tuition of $2 a month and book expenses were paid by the 14 pupils enrolled in the course. In May 1923, it was decided to build a new High School and Sisters Convent. By January 16, 1924, the building was complete and high school classes were no longer taught in the grade school. In June of 1947, the water main supplying both schools broke. The old two inch line was so badly rusted that it was useless to patch it. A new six inch pipe was then put in and gave a good water supply to the schools. In April 1948, a new roof, asbestos shingles, was put on the grade school at a cost of $5,315. In February of 1952, some 15 men washed the calcimine off the classroom walls, and high school boys did the same for the corridor walls. These walls were painted by men of the parish. This finished a job begun during Christmas vacation when fluorescent lights were installed in the school at a cost of $1,012.50. In October of 1952, it was found that the boiler in the grade school needed to be replaced. Two small ones were purchased instead of one large one so that the stone wall would not have to be broken in order to get the boilers in. It was at this time too that it was decided to convert to natural gas as a source of the fuel for heat. The boilers were supposed to be here the second week of September but came a month late, and then were missing some of their parts. The students were given eight days off from school due to cold weather until the boilers were finally installed and running. On March 12 and 13 of 1954, 50 men of the parish showed up to paint all the rooms in the high school, and the dining room and hall of the basement of the grade school. Bad weather forced some of the men to leave the job early, but enough stayed to complete it. In 1958, there were 235 pupils in the grade school. On March 14, 1963, the first formal meeting of local pastors was held to discuss the centralization of St. Francis High School, as well as centralizing the elementary school. In 1970, a lay board was begun to help with the decision making with regard to the running of the schools, separate from the parish council. In June of 1971, word was received that the status of St. Francis Central School system was raised from approved to accredited. About the same time, an agreement was arranged with the Public School for a shared time program. A merry-go-round was purchased at a school sale and placed on the playground about this same time. Instead of desks on runners in the grade school, individual desks were purchased at different school sales so that all classrooms except one now had individual desks. This also happened in 1971. In August of 1973, carpet was put in the principal’s office. School lunches were also raised at this time from 25 cents to 30 cents per student. A fire proof ceiling in the boiler room was also installed at this time. When school started in the fall of 1975, students were able to ride the school bus as long as the bus did not have to go off its route. In June 1976, 137 good used desks were purchased at $3 each for use in the grade school. In August of the same year, men of the parish repaired all the windows on the second floor of the grade school. On October 31, 1980, repairs on the boiler were complete. Our Grade School was begun 100 years ago in November of 1884. We began the celebration of this centennial on December 9, 1984, with the annual Christmas Program staged in the gym in the afternoon, followed by an open house in the school. A large crowd toured the present building, built in 1906, and enjoyed punch and cookies. Archbishop Sheehan helped the parish celebrate the centennial of the grade school and the 75th anniversary of the high school on February 10, 1985. A new typewriter for the grade school principal was donated in April 1985. Through an energy grant in 1986, the school installed thermostatically controlled radiator valves, a day/night thermostat, weather stripped doors, and interior storm windows. The summer of 1990 found the old tubular fire escape being removed and a new stairway design installed. New playground equipment was purchased through donations and parish auctions in 1992. The old deteriorating swings and merry-go-round, plus the cement supports in the ground, were removed. A nine piece swing set was erected, a new merry-go-round was purchased, four new slides were ordered and steel was bought to make the frames for the swing set. Treated timbers were used for boundary areas, new sidewalk was poured, grass was sewn, and pea gravel was placed in the playing area. New trees were planted west and south of the area. In the fall of 1999, a new phone system was installed. At a school board meeting in the fall of 2000, it was determined the grade school needed a face-lift. Improvements that were made include putting new tile floors in the lower-level classrooms and hall, installing new outlets, purchasing chairs and desks, completing the started window replacement, and adding storage cupboards to each room. By the fall of 2003, all classrooms had a window air conditioning unit, given by the Knights of Columbus. In 2004, the library was updated. Old books were removed and given away and updated software was purchased in place of the card catalog system. In 2007, preschool was added to the system. In the summer of 2008, the grade school roof received some much needed attention. A new steel roof was installed at a cost of approximately $94,000. At this same time, the front of the building also received some attention. New sidewalk was laid and rock was placed beside the stairs, and the large evergreen tree was removed. On February 23, 2009, U.S. Cellular came and presented the St. Francis school community a check for $10,000. We were one of 10 schools in the United States to win this money. We mailed out 1,200 letters to alumni and received votes that exceeded schools 10 times our size. This money was used to repaint the lockers Flyer blue, place a new rubber floor and mirrors in the weight room, replace the grade school doors, the high school roof was fixed so it wouldn’t leak, the furnaces in the gym were updated, professional spotlights were installed in the gym for plays, a new playground was installed for the grade school, and any money left was to be used in the future gym lobby addition. In spring of 2010, the grade school gym was refurbished. New paint, lights, ceiling, and removal of the old locker rooms, along with a general clean up made the gym look almost new. During the process, many volunteers scraped and painted the walls. The angel that was found over the front doors was removed, sanded, and repainted. At the dedication of the gym addition in the fall of 2010, Archbishop George Lucas blessed the statue before it was replaced above the doors.