St. John School has a tradition of almost 120 years of quality Catholic education. In September of 1885, St. Mary School opened on Acushnet Avenue and Wing Street to educate the children of the Catholic families living in the south end of New Bedford.
Starting with only grades one and two, the school quickly grew to full capacity. Although long associated with St. James Parish, the school retained its original name until 1964 when it became known as St. James School.
In 1941, the parish of St. John the Baptist, seeing the need to educate the children of its primarily Portuguese congregation, opened a school known as St. John’s Academy in the former Grinnell Mansion on County Street.
In 1957, a new school, now called St.John the Baptist School was built on the rear of the Grinnell property, facing Orchard Street. Although both schools flourished for many years, in the mid 1970s, dwindling enrollment and the need for more lay faculty to replace the Sisters of Mercy who had staffed both schools, led to the merger of the two schools.
In September of 1973, the school officially became known as St. James–St. John School. At the beginning, the school was housed in the former St. James building on Acushnet Avenue, then moved to its present location at 180 Orchard Street in January of 1986.
The School has grown from its original four classrooms for students in grades one and two, to ten classes of students from preschool to grade eight. In addition to the fundamentals of reading, math, and religion, the curriculum has expanded to include social studies, science and computer classes, as well as art, music, and physical education. Although the Sisters of Mercy no longer staff the school, the Mercy tradition of quality Catholic education with a caring and nurturing environment is still carried on by the dedicated, knowledgeable and caring lay faculty.