History & Tradition
Founded in 1885 at the corner of Brewster Street and El Camino Real in Redwood City, California, a scant six blocks from where the school is currently located. Father Michael Riordan, who invited four Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur to be the first teachers, opened the school.
Early Days of OLMC
More than 50 students arrived on Monday, July 28, 1885 to start school, but were sent home because the school desks had not arrived. The students actually began classes on Monday, August 4, 1885.
The school was damaged during the 1906 earthquake, but public demand ensured that the sisters returned shortly afterwards. In 1932, community-wide celebrations and a parade through the downtown neighborhood marked the opening of the new school and church on the corner of Katherine and Grand. Here the school has remained, a local landmark characterized by Spanish Mission-style architecture.
Originally, the church was located in the space now referred to as Cavanagh Hall, which encompasses the Large Hall (gym), Small Hall and kitchen. The current church, located at the corner of Fulton and James, was opened in 1956.
The original convent, located at the corner of Fulton and Katherine, now houses our Parish offices and meeting spaces, as well as our PreSchool (ages 3 & 4) and Extended Care ("A Kid's Place" for grades TK and up) programs.
As one of the oldest schools – public or private – on the Peninsula, Our Lady of Mount Carmel School has been a fixture in the community, serving generations of students across social, economic, cultural and ethnic lines. It is common for students at the school to be second-third-fourth and now fifth generation members of the School community. Our alumni like it so much, they come back. We have five Alumni on staff. Our Alumni maintain close contact with the school and classmates and 50-year reunions are held with regularity.
While Our Lady of Mount Carmel School has held a special place as an educator and guiding force to thousands of students, the schools reach has always extended beyond its walls. Our graduates have become vital members of the community as teachers, parents, nuns, priests, doctors, lawyers, authors and government leaders.
A Legacy of Giving Back
At Our Lady of Mount Carmel School, students are consistently taught that they are part of a larger community and that they are called to serve those around them.
The School has a year-round community service program that is a vital part of our students' education. Students are active participants in the Our Lady of Mount Carmel School Community Outreach Program, the St. Vincent de Paul Society and Catholic Charities of San Mateo County. In 1999, the school received a grant from Citizens Scholarship Foundation of America in recognition of community involvement.
Since 1994, 16 Mount Carmel graduates have earned scholarships from the Sequoia Foundation, a local organization that recognizes Redwood City students and adults for their outstanding volunteer service to their community.