Marquette Catholic High School
306 W. 10th Street
Michigan City, Indiana 46360
The Very Beginning
On November 2, 1886, the students, 80 in all, moved into their new classroom in the new high school department. Enrollment continued to grow from 250 students taught by six sisters to 440 including the high school by 1896. Many of the students remained for only one, two or three years and would then leave high school to go to work. However, in June 1894 two students completed four years of study, thus becoming the first graduates of St. Mary's High School.
The 1920's-mid 1950's
By 1921 enrollment had reached 544, in both the grade school and the high school. The large classes could no longer be accommodated in the school. The old convent situated just behind the school building was remodeled and fitted for classrooms. The high school now extended to grade 12 and since Marquette Hall, what was erected as the parish hall, was being used very little, the entire high school department, 102 students, moved into the second floor of Marquette Hall in September 1925
On May 4, 1928, the high school received accreditation from the Indiana Superintendent of Schools, thus becoming the first four-year accredited Catholic high school in the Northwest Indiana.
October 1937 brought about two 'firsts"--school uniforms and a school newspaper, The Marquette. The name Immaculata was chosen in November of the same year for the annual yearbook, a name which continued until 1968. The school club activities in the 1930's included Girls' Glee Club, Latin Club, Debating Teams and Oratorical Contests.
In the fall of 1934, it was announced that the third floor of Marquette Hall would be turned into a gymnasium. With the new facilities available, a boys' basketball team was formed. By 1945 the athletic program produced almost 100% participation from the student body. Also in 1945 Msgr. Vurpillat announced the erection of a new Catholic high school, gymnasium and social hall in the near future. However, the project was dropped for one reason or another but was revived again in 1949. On January 30, 1954, contracts were signed for the construction of a new parish high school.
The New School
In 1955 the present high school was completed. March 25, 1955, was moving day for students and faculty. As the convent archives state: “Perhaps the happiest day ever known to both the faculty and students of the high school took place today when we all moved into our new high school.” The next week the renovation of Marquette Hall began. It was completed on April 13, 1956. Located in the lobby of Marquette Hall stands the statue of Father Marquette, which was formerly outside the front of the building.
It is a well-known fact that the 1960’s was a time of great social upheaval and St. Mary’s was significantly induced to change. St, Mary’s was diminished in size with the growth of Queen of All Saints and Notre Dame Parishes. The cost of operating the high school by St. Mary's parish alone became prohibitive. As a result, it was decided that beginning with the school year 1968-1969, St. Mary's High School would become a city-wide catholic high school named Marquette High School. It was felt this would aid in the transition to a dual enrollment school scheduled to begin in 1971. Therefore, the commencement exercises on June 2, 1968, became the final commencement of St. Mary's High School.
The beginning of the end of the dual enrollment plan began on April 25, 1969. On that day, Mother Verda Clare, Provincial Superior of the Sisters of the Holy Cross, advised that they could not supply sisters for the dual enrollment school. Elsewhere in the United States, the dual enrollment schools were obviously failing. On September 30, the plans for Marquette High School as a dual enrollment school were dropped. Marquette High School continues today as a city-wide Catholic high school at its present site.
The replacement of priests and sisters with lay teachers caused a financial crisis in 1971 that threatened the continuance of Marquette Catholic High School. Costs were escalating and enrollment decreasing as fewer religious educators available to teach in the high school. This resulted in debilitating demands on parish and diocesan funds. This crisis united the parents and lay teachers into action to prevent the closing of Marquette Catholic High School. The Marquette Catholic High School Finance Committee was organized to develop a plan presented by the committee to subsidize tuition. The plan included a four-year fund drive, and those efforts raised $225,000.00. The program helped put the school on a sounder financial basis while increasing enrollment.
Marquette Catholic High School held a first class certification from the state of Indiana and offered a complete college curriculum. For those students not contemplating college after graduation, there was an opportunity for a share time program. While attending Marquette Catholic; some courses in the practical arts were available at the Michigan City Public Schools.
Marquette Catholic High School, the oldest Catholic high school in the Diocese of Gary, is dedicated to the goal of providing its students with a solid education in a thoroughly Christian atmosphere. The Marquette Foundation, the successor to the Marquette Finance Committee, began in 1977 to provide a long-range source of income toward operating costs of the school. The cost of education has risen sharply in recent years. In order to keep tuition within an affordable range, the Marquette Foundation endowment fund subsidizes students through scholarships and provides the school with additional funding.
The Present and the Future
In the 1990’s, the Indiana Department of Education revised its school accreditation norms. Marquette Catholic High School received full accreditation standing after participating in this new system, known as the PBA Process.
21st Century improvements at the school facility were the installation of a computer lab and the Marquette Athletic Complex, including baseball, softball, and soccer and cross country. On November 19th, 2001 the Richard and Louise Scholl Student Center was dedicated. The Scholl Center houses a one-of-a-kind global trading lab, a distance learning lab, a library generously equipped with computers used for research, the student commons, administrative offices, a gymnasium, locker rooms, a weight room, and, beginning in 2017, the La Terrazza Deli.
Marquette Catholic High School is a vital part of Michigan City as it has been for over one hundred years. It gives everyone, regardless of religious beliefs, a choice in education. It is certainly a symbol of "Unity Through Catholic Education" as students from all the Catholic parishes and from other faiths make Marquette Catholic High School their choice for high school.