To learn more about “Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish (OLBS) and School”, formerly located on East 79th Street in Cleveland between Quincy Avenue and Central Avenue, click the link provided HERE.

Saint Adalbert Catholic School is a Catholic Elementary School established as the parish school of Saint Adalbert Parish in 1883 to serve the Bohemian (Czech) Community of the Fairfax Area, although early accounts indicate a parish school present as early as 1873. No images of the previous school have been found but illustrations provided by the Zoning Department from the City of Cleveland display two smaller buildings (the church and school) with a drive-through in between leading to a small convent and maintenance shed.  The former school appears to be located where the current Upper Campus school lies, while the second main building (the former church) was constructed where the present Upper Campus parking lot exists.  The Zoning Department document described these buildings as “not permanent” and are believed to have been wooden. Why specifically Saint Adalbert was chosen as the patron saint of our parish is not known, but Adalbert of Prague was a strong-minded person who stood up for what is right, believed in bringing Jesus to everyone, and was eventually martyred for proclaiming the “Good News” to pagans in Europe.

A new school was constructed after 1911 made of brick and designed to be a permanent structure.  The former church was converted into a gymnasium and “Field House” for the school.  This school operated for fifty-six years under the direction of the Sisters of Notre Dame.  The religious order was already flourishing in our city in other local schools at the time such as Notre Dame Academy (located off Ansel Road), Saint Francis School (located on Myron off Superior Avenue), and Notre Dame College (located off Green Road in South Euclid).

In 1937, the Missionaries of the Precious Blood religious order of priests, brothers, and deacons began serving OLBS parish and school.  These men served our community for 75 years until our church briefly closed in 2011 for one year.  Click Here to see a complete list of all the religious men from this order as well as Diocese Priests and Sisters that have served our school.  Many of these notable men on this list include Father Leonard Sudhoff (our longest serving CPPS Priest), Father Clarence Williams, Father Gene Wilson (first African American Roman Catholic priest in our Diocese), Father Jerry Steinbrunner (longest serving Pastor and founder of the “Spring Spout” program), Father Ken Pleiman (the last CPPS Pastor to serve us), and Brother Tom Bohman & Brother Rob Reuter (the last two men for this order to work at our school).  The logo of the Eucharist and Sacred Cup on each exterior church door and in several areas of the Upper Campus school is the symbol of their order.  Click HERE to learn about the interior of the Church, including the windows, statues, paintings, and other work within the church.

Shortly after World War II, the outmigration of the original parishioners forced the closing of the original school in 1946.  Demographics starting changing in the early-1900s through this period as people migrated north from the southern United States, settling in Outhwaite Homes as well as the Woodland and Central neighborhoods.  A new school for the children would be needed soon!

By 1961, Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Parish, the first and only African American Catholic Parish in the Diocese of Cleveland located on East 79th Street between Quincy and Central, had outgrown its church and school buildings. With nearly 300 children OLBS school and St. Adalbert School vacant, a connection was quickly made.  Archbishop Hoban authorized the merged of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament with Saint Adalbert with the understanding that the people of Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament would build a new school adjacent to Saint Adalbert/Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament Church. The Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, under the direction of their foundress Mother (now Saint) Katherine Drexel had been serving Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament School since 1924 and agreed to continue serving the predominantly African American student population at the new site.  The former OLBS convent was moved to the new St. Adalbert location and OLBS church, school, rectory, and convent were closed.

Saint Adalbert/OLBS School reopened in the new facility in 1962.  According to local tradition told by Leola “Grandma” Wilson, Regina Fortner, and others, students and family brought the books, as well as actual bricks for building, from the former Our Lady of the Blessed Sacrament School over to the site of the current building to help construct the new school.  Regina Fortner recalls being a child and walking several blocks carrying the bricks and school books used to build the new school and “Grandma” Wilson specifically noted bricks used in the former OLBS School currently in the Upper Campus School.  These bricks are indicated presently at Door “B” when entering the Upper Campus.

Our school was active in the “Civil Rights Era” with Father Gene Wilson working with local Black Panthers members to feed children breakfast and lunch prior to the current “Free/Reduced Lunch Program”, as well as provide haircuts to children in the former cafeteria (presently Rooms 101, 103, and 105).  Sister Juanita Sheely used to broadcast on National Public Radio from the former OLBS Covent (formerly located south of the current Saint Bahkita Convent) and spread messages of faith, equality, and peace.  Lydia Harris (former administrator of over twenty years until the late-1990’s) worked with local and State authories to help champion the Cleveland Scholarship for students in need within our city and spawned the current CSTP Scholarship used by thousands of students yearly.  During Ms. Harris’ time as Administrator, our enrollment expanded to over 400 students as a strong, faith-based, and academically sound school known across the city.  She successfully sought donors in Mary Russell, Mark Frantz, and Thomas Jeckering to assist in the development and construction of parts of the school.  Former-Mayor of Cleveland Michael R. White sent his children to our school during this time.  Ms. Harris is commemmorated in our school with our Upper Campus Cafeteria (now used as the Distance Learning Lab) named in her honor and her image centered on the east-wall.

Upon Ms. Harris’ retirement, enrollment slowly declined through the 2000’s to a low-point in 2008 of 142 students.  Our current President and then Principal, Mr. James D. Smith, started in 2011 and enrollment rose once again.  New programs were added including parent involvement, intramural sports, clubs, tutoring, and community-building events.  Partnerships were re-established within the community and at Gilmour Academy.  Technology and family-based events became a staple of our school.  Honors programs, STEM, and IEP programs were entered into our school to assist students at all academic levels.  Current Principal, Mrs. Jamie Smith, became Assistant Principal in 2018 and helped drive a focus of Primary Grade academic progress and faith-based instruction.  Together, our leadership team has brought enrollment to over 500 students!

Under the direction and partnership of Pastor Father Gary Chmura, new religious orders from Africa now serve our children as Sisters living in the former rectory.  The Evangelizing Sisters of Mary reside in the Saint Bahkita Convent, which was the former rectory for the Missionaries of the Precious Blood order.  The Sisters of Our Lady of Kilimanjaro order also serves our students and community, residing a short distance away at Saint Elizabeth of Hungary Parish.  These Sisters work in our school with our students to teach academics and faith-based instruction, as well as serve the community at the Juvenille Justice Center, Food Distributions, health centers, prayer & worship, and throughout neighborhood programs.

We serve students from all over Cuyahoga County, from as far west as West 75th Street, into Euclid at East 222nd Street, and serving students in Bedford, Maple Heights, Garfield Heights, Warrensville, Parma, Brooklyn, and Richmond Heights. Many of the students currently enrolled are the children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren of alumni!  Saint Adalbert Catholic School remains committed to providing a quality Catholic Education for all children. We strive to live our motto: “Hand In Hand We Serve The Lord.”

Check out these links below to other resources about the history of our school and community:

Total Student Enrollment Since 1975

Encyclopedia of Cleveland History – Saint Adalbert

Encyclopedia of Cleveland History – OLBS