In 1906, 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 of 1923, it was decided to build a new High School and Sister’s Convent.
By January 16, 1924, the building was complete and high school classes were no longer taught in the grade school. In 1934, Fr. Benvenute Mueller, O.F.M. was lauded for his work in education. He built St. Francis School to such a high standard that it was then ranked among the leading and best equipped educational institutions in the state. In the fall of 1938, the old boarder’s dormitory on the second floor of the Sister’s Convent was made into a library for St. Francis High School. The “Dear Old St. Francis” school song, words and music were written by Fr. B.H. Teves in 1938. At this time the school also joined the Mid-State Conference.
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. During the summer and fall of 1953, the existing boilers for the high school were equipped with gas-oil burners. 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 92 pupils in the high school. In December 1959, the Archbishop and Fr. Provincial gave permission to build a new gym for the parish. The financial drive for the new gym began the following May. On March 14, 1963, the first formal meeting of local pastors was held to discuss the centralization of St. Francis High School. There was strong opposition because the neighboring parishes lost their teaching sisters. A temporary School Board was set up with one layman from each parish; they met on May 17 with the pastor. At graduation ceremonies on May 24, 1964, Fr. Ladislas detailed the plans for the expansion and improvement of St. Francis Central High School. The first concrete and realistic planning for the school construction took place on September 11, when the Superintendent of Schools for the Archdiocese brought the architect, William Steele Jr., to Humphrey to look at the land.
On August 12, 1965, bids were opened for the new St. Francis Central School. Groundbreaking took place September 12th after the 2:00 p.m. devotions. It was decided that the school be attached to the present new gym. On October 2, 1966, Archbishop Gerard Bergan officiated at the dedication ceremony of the new St. Francis Central High School. An open house followed the dedication ceremonies with a guided tour given by the senior class of St. Francis Central.
There are 23 rooms in the school, built as a “L” shaped structure. The west or front wing is approximately 200 x 80 feet and houses the lobby, administrative offices, and general classrooms. The south wing is approximately 210 x 80 feet and houses the library, assembly room, science and business lab, and a teacher’s lounge. The new high school building was used for the 1966-1967 school term. The cost was $400,000.
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. School lunches were raised in 1973 from 25 cents to 30 cents per student. In October 1973, the Parish Council, after consultation with the Archbishop, voted to delete the word “Central” from the title of our school. At this time the Holy Name Society put up a portable outdoor windbreaker in front of the gym doors. In September of 1974, uniform slacks were introduced for the high school girls. In December of this same year, the Parish Council voted to place new lettering on the High School and auditorium. In 1975, the council voted to accept the bid to install a completely new speaking system in the gym. 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 November, the Holy Name Society obtained, dug up and replanted eight evergreens on the east side of the playground, now the football practice field. They were approximately 20 feet tall. On October 10, 1978, a small fire was discovered on the south side of the gym where hay from the homecoming dance had been ignited. Some damage to the metal walls resulted.
On May 2, 1979, work began to redo the library tables in the high school. On August 29th, 1980, men of the parish began work on an addition to the high school gym. It was to house a weight room and an art room. It was completed on February 3rd, and solemnly blessed during a special Mass at the high school, commemorating National Catholic Education Week on February 6th.
The ten-year evaluation of St. Francis High School was completed and the evaluating team was here on October 21, 1981. The first mass in the renovated St. Francis high school chapel was offered on March 1, 1983. The altar and podium from the old church sanctuary grace this chapel as well as five pews and a statue of St. Francis from our old winter basement chapel. A used tabernacle was purchased from Sacred Heart in Norfolk. The shop class at Humphrey High built two stands, one for the tabernacle and one for the statue. Permission had been granted by the Archbishop to reserve the Blessed Sacrament in this chapel. The chapel received carpet on October 10, 1983, donated by the Student Council. A handmade stained-glass window for the chapel in the High School was installed on April 4, 1984, behind the altar between the tabernacle and the statue of St. Francis.
In the fall of 1984, a sharing of academic courses with the public school began. 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 bell system for the high school was donated in April of this same year, since the old system was too old to get parts for repairing it. Two large fans for the gym were also donated at this time.
Exams to end the first semester were given before Christmas vacation. This was the first time that this was tried here, and it was received by faculty and students. Through an energy grant in 1986, the high school was able to replace gym lights, replace classroom lighting with a high efficiency system, install new furnaces in the cafeteria, weather strip doors, insulate the art room, and install dampers in the gym.
In the summer of 1987, the shower rooms were improved. Shower heads were removed off the wall and new ones were installed in the middle of the shower room, the floors were tiled, and the many coats of paint on the walls were removed and repainted with epoxy paint. In the fall of 1987, St. Francis joined a new conference called the Cornhusker Conference.
Donations were sought in the spring of 1989 for a renovation of the gym. At the time, the gym floor was to be replaced but ended up being a complete renovation. Besides the gym floor being installed, all the walls were repainted, new paintings were added to the east end of the gym, bleachers were sanded and refinished, and new volleyball poles and nets installed. All was completed through donated money and labor, costing the parish nothing. The lockers were all painted in the summer of 1990.
In 1991, the school chapel received a new altar and ambo (lectern). On February 29, 1992, a celebration was held commemorating the 25th anniversary of the present high school building. Festivities began with a 5:00 p.m. mass followed by a four-course meal and entertainment. In December 1992, permission was obtained to reroof the high school. The current flat roof was leaking and had structural damage. Since the cost for patching the current roof was too costly, a grant was applied for and bids were taken. Permission was granted and a new pitched roof with added insulation was installed. The cost to complete this 6-week project was $59,500 and was completed in only three weeks.
In June 1994, a school sign with the Flyers logo was erected on the west side of the high school building. Work started in the fall of 1996 for a two-story addition to the east side of the gym. The 80 x 27 foot addition houses locker rooms, coaches’ offices, and a training room in the basement, with a multipurpose room on the main floor. The red curtains on the stage were replaced with royal blue ones at this time.
In the fall of 1999, work was begun to improve technology in the school. A 12-computer internet lab was placed in the high school library over Christmas vacation. In all, 37 computers were ordered and all was achieved through donations. On January 21, 2000, an open house was held during the basketball games to view the new computers. Also at this time, the school changed from eight, 55 minute classes to four 90 minute classes. An appeal was made in 2003 to get our high school classrooms all equipped with a single unit air conditioner. The summer of 2003 found the school chapel getting renovated. The walls were repainted, new carpet was laid, new lighting was installed, and seating arrangements of new chairs were placed around the altar. This was achieved through volunteers and donors.
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. The summer of this year also included repainting the library. In 2005, high-speed internet was installed. In the summer of 2007, the gym received a makeover. The bleachers that served our school for so many years were replaced at a cost of $45,000. The new bleachers are blue and white and contain stairs with handrails. The gym walls were also repainted and the floor was refinished at this time.
On February 23, 2009, U.S. Cellular came and presented the St. Francis school community a check for $100,000. 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 the summer of 2009, the art room was renovated. The previous table and chair room was removed from the gym and that space was used to double the size of the art room. The 1980 weight room addition became the new table and chair room while the weight room was moved into the multipurpose room. Many knew it was necessary but in the summer of 2010, the renovation of the gym lobby began. The renovation included expanding the current building to the west to match the rest of the school building. This provided more room on the inside for trophy display cases. New men’s and women’s restrooms were installed along with a coat closet and concession area. Parts of the cafeteria were also redone at this time, including a new northwest exit, repainting, tiling, and lights.
On October 4, 2010, Archbishop George Lucas celebrated mass in the gym and dedicated the new addition. In April of 2011, St. Francis earned a grant to start a graphics arts program. Work began in May of 2011 to renovate the cafeteria kitchen per state regulations before school could open in the fall. The renovation included an expansion of the cafeteria to the east. The kitchen received a manager’s office, new ventilation system above the stoves, new cabinets, and much more. The old serving window was removed and a second door was added to the west end of the kitchen. The project was completed in September and ready for the parish bazaar in October.