St. Francis High School was founded under the leadership of the Very Rev. Justin Figas, OFM Conv., who had long desired to establish a secondary school for young men in the Niagara Frontier area.

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  • In December 1924, he met with a group of Polish-American professionals and businessmen from Buffalo...

    to consider the possibility of erecting a school in Athol Springs, NY on a thirty-two acre site which had been purchased for the Conventual Franciscans of St. Anthony of Padua Province in 1916 by the Very Rev. Hyacinth Fudzinski, OFM Conv. The site, which is located on the shores of Lake Erie about eight miles south of Buffalo, had been the estate of Dr. Pierce, a nationally famous maker of patent medicines at the turn of the century. A committee, which came to be known as the "Father Justin Drivers" was formed to raise the funds necessary for the construction of the high school. It met with such great success that on July 12, 1925 ground-breaking ceremonies were held and sixteen months later construction was completed. St. Francis High School was formally dedicated on November 25, 1926 as a college-preparatory Catholic high school for young men. The following year the first class of students was officially enrolled. In 1928, two additional wings were built to accommodate the overflow of applicants. Shortly after, the science laboratories were completely equipped and the library was enlarged. When all requirements were met, accreditation was granted by the Board of Regents of the State of New York on May 21, 1937.
  • In the fall of 1943, St. Francis was affiliated with The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC.

    With the great increase in enrollment in the 1940s additional facilities were added. In April, 1946, after several years of planning, permission was granted for the construction of a building which would house a new dormitory and gymnasium. Fr. Justin assumed the responsibility for raising funds to finance the building. With the generous aid of the Father Justin Rosary Hour and the Justin Drivers Committee, he was successful, and ground for the new addition, which was to be built behind the main school building, was broken in October, 1950. The Gymnasium was completed on September 2, 1951 along with a tunnel connecting the gymnasium with what is now Friars’ Hall. The new dormitories were finished six years later, completing the building, known as Justin Hall. The new dorms were located on the third floor of Justin Hall above the classrooms.
  • The 1960s and 70s were decades of renovation.

    Major reconstruction was done to the chapel, science labs, library, cafeteria, residency, guidance offices and gymnasium. This period of renovations launched the revision and the further development of the educational program at St. Francis, resulting in the school’s ability to provide a full range college preparatory curriculum for both resident and day students. Consequently the number of commuter students increased dramatically, requiring additional classroom facilities in Justin Hall.St. Francis High School Conversely, during the 1970s and 80s the number of resident students continued to decrease, leading to a decision by the Board of Trustees to end the residency program after the 1987-1988 school year. In the mid-1980s, the improvement of the school’s facilities continued when plans were put in place for the construction of an auditorium complex. Kick Off ceremonies were held in September 1985, commencing a two year fund-raising campaign for the construction. Ground was broken in May 1987 for the new building, situated adjacent to Justin Hall and it was dedicated on October 29, 1988 as the John Ormsby Alumni Hall Auditorium. Incorporated into the design of the auditorium is a thrust stage and orchestra pit, with tiered rows of seating for 800 people. In addition, the complex features a campus book store, a fitness center, and the Louise Michalek Board Room. Additional facilities planned for the complex — a band practice room, private practice rooms, dressing rooms, and storage and office space — were funded and constructed during the summer of 1995.
  • In 1999 the campus was expanded with the acquisition of a 16.65 acre parcel of land on Big Tree Road...

    adjacent to the football field to be used to expand athletic facilities and practice fields. The Board of Trustees of Saint Francis High School named the first President of the school in April, 2000 ushering in a new governance model for the institution. The President - Principal Governance model was adopted to provide long term viability for the school, allowing the President to concentrate on development and long range oversight of the institution.
  • In February 2003, St. Francis High School launched an ambitious fund raising campaign as the school celebrated its 75th anniversary.

    The Forever St. Francis Fundraising Campaign, with a goal of $4.5 million, provided funds to establish a $1 million endowment fund for tuition assistance and completed $3.5 million of capital improvements. These improvements included repairs to Friars’ Hall Chapel; creation of a state-of-the-art science complex; upgrading information technology; renovation of the current gymnasium; expansion of Justin Hall to provide an additional gymnasium, three new classrooms, new locker rooms for physical education, home and visiting teams, a new training room and offices for the athletic department, development of new practice and playing fields on the property that was acquired in 1999; providing a new green space to form a quadrangle and enhancement of the fine arts program with a new Visual Arts Center and new facilities for the instrumental music program. Work on the new Science Complex, the refurbished gymnasium and the athletic fields and the implementation of new technology was completed in the summer of 2003. The construction work for the addition to Justin Hall was started November, 2004 and completed in November, 2005. In addition the quadrangle was completed in the summer of 2005, which created additional parking and a new traffic pattern on campus. Construction of the new Mary E. Schneider Visual Arts Center was completed in the summer of 2007.
  • In the fall of 2011 St. Francis High School reinstated its residence program.

    The St. Anthony Residence was constructed in a portion of the third floor of Justin Hall. The Residence can accommodate 26 students in double rooms. There is a recreation room as well as a kitchen available to resident students.
From its inception, St. Francis High School has been administered and staffed by the Conventual Franciscan Friars of the Province of St. Anthony of Padua, USA. It is governed by a Board of Trustees and directed by a School Board composed of lay and religious professionals who oversee the policy and management of the school. The school’s faculty includes dedicated lay men and women and religious sisters.
Success Begins at St. Francis