First envisioned by the Most Reverend John Mark Gannon, Bishop of the Diocese of Erie in the mid-1950s, Sharon Kennedy Catholic High School has been meeting the academic and spiritual needs of students in Western Pennsylvania and Northeast Ohio for nearly 50 years.
The work of converting Bishop Gannon’s vision to reality began in earnest on September 3, 1957 when area residents launched the intense capital campaign that would generate the funds needed to acquire land and build the school. On November 5, 1962 the fundraising drive ended successfully when the Diocese purchased 81.7 acres of land in Hermitage and began the process of building what would eventually become Sharon Kennedy Catholic.
Forming the school board that would govern the institution was an important first step in that process. To that end, Bishop Gannon appointed the Most Reverend Edward McManaman, Auxiliary Bishop of Erie, chairman of the board on May 14, 1963 and made him responsible for overseeing construction of the new facility. Four days later the full school board met for the first time and appointed Monsignor Edward Latimer first Headmaster of what was officially named Shenango Valley Regional High School.
The members of the board then turned their attention to selecting the school’s faculty. They decided that the teaching staff would be comprised of lay teachers, diocesan priests, and nuns from the Sisters of St. Benedict and the Sisters of Mercy. Nuns from the Sisters of St. Joseph were added to the faculty roster in 1966.
After agreeing to Bishop McManaman’s proposed plan for dividing the cost of building and operating the school among participating parishes the board hired architect Arthur P. D’Orazio to design the facility and on March 18, 1964 awarded construction contracts to B&B Construction, Sterfanek and Sons, and Pic Electric.
As the building rose in Hermitage in the fall of 1964, the 125 freshmen who made up the first class to enroll in the new school began attending class at St. Bartholomew Church in nearby Sharpsville. One year later the new building was completed and opened to students in all four grades. The institution received its certification as a secondary school from the Pennsylvania Department of Education in 1966 and was accredited by the Commission of the Secondary of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in 1970. That accreditation was renewed during the 1979—1980 school year.
The first graduating class, made up of 25 seniors who transferred in from other high schools, received their diplomas in June of 1965. The first class to earn all their academic credits at the new school, 122 seniors who enrolled as freshmen while the facility was under construction, graduated in June of 1968, They were followed a year later by 144 seniors who were the first to attend school in the new building for four years.
In the years since numerous upgrades and additions have been made to the school’s grounds, athletic facilities, classrooms, and administrative offices:
- 1972: Booster Club and PTO raise funds to build the Butala Memorial Football Stadium and installation of a wooden floor in the gymnasium.
- 1979: Yobe Memorial Tennis Courts dedicated.
- 1983: Guidance Office renovated.
- 1984—85: Football fieldhouse completely renovated; weight room is added and equipped.
- 1984: Computer department is created with a classroom dedicated specifically to computer science.
- 1999—2000: Substantial renovation program begins including installation of a new roof and installation of new carpet in every classroom. New computers are acquired and Internet access is enhanced. Computer curriculum expands to include programming and web page design.
- 2015: Engineering wing added to include a CNC machine, 3D printers, and CAD software.
- 2019: Complete renovation of gymnasium floor at KCHS and football stands. Addition on jump stretch program and renovations to the field house.
- 2020: Classroom electronic upgrades including chromebooks, ipads, and 55” TVs at both buildings.
- 2022: New carpet at SJPII.
- 2023: New scoreboard and baseball field upgrades.
After changing the name of the school from Shenango Valley Regional High School to Kennedy Christian High School, the institution was officially renamed Kennedy Catholic High School On July 1, 2001 in accordance with a decree issued by Bishop Donald Trautman. According to Monsignor Robert Smith, Vicar General for the Diocese, the school’s name was changed to distinguish the region’s Catholic schools from the many others that now use the word “Christian” in their title. Monsignor Smith emphasized that the name changes does not in any way alter the Diocese’s philosophy of accepting and welcoming parents and students of all faiths, Christian and non-Christian, to Kennedy Catholic community.
In 2011, Kennedy Catholic High School along with Kennedy Catholic Middle School and Blessed John Paul II Elementary School combined under the umbrella of the newly formed Shenango Valley Catholic School System.
Kennedy Chief School Administrators
1964-1973 Monsignor Edward Latimer
1973-1980 Father Andrew Karg
1980-1982 Father Henry Krebs
1982-1984 Father Eugene Kole
1984-2011 Peter Iacino
2011-2013 Father Marc Stockton
2013-2016 Father Michael P. Allison
2016-2019 Father Jason A. Glover
2019-2020 Vincent A. Cardamon
2020-2021 Mark Ferrara
2021-2022 Melissa Joseph
2022-2023 (Interim) Peter Iacino
2023-Current Karen Ionta
Testimonial from the Rosa Family
The thing that stands out to us in addition to an amazing education, is the family feeling you get from being part of this school system. Starting with the teachers and administrators, they go above and beyond to make sure each student is getting exactly what they need to succeed. Whether it is the principal putting on a band-aid or a devoted teacher staying after school and working during the summer tutoring a struggling child. They really care. We are so happy we chose the KCFS for our children.”
– The Rosa Family: Lewis, Elizabeth, Abby and Andrew
KCFS Board & Committee Members & SJPII Parents
Testimonial from Carol Shields, M.D.
– Carol L. Shields M.D., Class of 1975
Ocular Oncology Service, Co-Director Wills Eye Hospital