Sacred Heart Schools (SHS) traces its heritage back to the year 1800 when Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat founded the Society of the Sacred Heart of Jesus in France. Her good friend St. Rose Philippine Duchesne brought the Society to North America in 1818, settling in St. Louis and New Orleans, and eventually reaching her beloved Pottowatomi Indians in the Kansas area.
The Religious came to Menlo Park in 1898 and founded a boarding school on 40 acres of land purchased from the Atherton family. Mother Jane Fox was the superior at the time, and the first graduate, Eleanor Deming, entered and became a much-loved superior in the 40's, 50's and early 60's.
For the first forty years, most of the students were boarders; after WWII, day students began to predominate. Now SHS is day only and fully coeducational, with the largest enrollment in its history, 525 in preschool through grade 8 and 550 in grades 9-12.
A college division opened in 1921, with professors drawn from Stanford and Santa Clara Universities. In 1930 the college moved to San Francisco and flourished until the 1970s. In 1978, the property, ;Lone Mountain campus, was sold to the Jesuits at USF.
In 1904, Mrs. Emilie Donohoe gave 5+ acres to the Religious to establish a separate free elementary school expressly for the village children of Menlo Park. The school was named St. Joseph's after her late husband, and the street on which it fronted became Emilie Avenue in honor of her.
After only eight years, when the Academy was beginning to grow, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake struck, causing the nuns to interrupt their plans for a four-sided building. Instead, during the next nine years, one additional wing was built. It was graced by a large Porte Cochere, contained a new chapel, two spacious parlors and new classrooms and dormitories for the growing school. A third floor with a Mansard roof was added to both wings, and a lofty bell tower became the symbol of the campus. St. Joseph's, just completed in 1906, became a refuge for the Academy students after the earthquake until the Main Building could be used again for classes and residence.
The Society of the Sacred Heart is internationally known for its strong education with an emphasis on the whole child, and there are twenty-one schools in the U.S. Network of Sacred Heart Schools that embody this educational spirit.
With a graduation rate of 100 percent, waiting lists for every grade level, a growing endowment, state championship athletic teams, planned technical advancements and the restored Main Building, all signs indicate that SHS is well-positioned to continue the success it has enjoyed since 1898.