The first catholic school in Newton was established in 1880 by Father Swembergh who was the first pastor of the St. Mary Parish. The original school had 50 students and was taught by the pastors or laymen. In 1883 the Sisters of Saint Joseph established their first Kansas foundation in Newton. The Sisters operated two schools here during that year. Sixty younger Catholic children were taught in the already established parochial school, and 100 non-Catholic and older Catholic students were taught in a two-story frame building east of the church. The older student school was closed in 1888. Through 2015, St. Mary has been blessed to have the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph in our school.
The original 4 classroom school building was built on 8th street in 1908 and still stands. In 1964, during the pastorate of Msgr. J. George Hermann, a new school building was built at 9th and Main streets. This building contained 4 classrooms, a library, teachers lounge, office, kitchen, and gymnasium.
The half-day kindergarten and pre-school classes shared the same room, alternating morning and afternoon sessions. In 1998, St. Mary implemented the all day kindergarten program, thus requiring a full time kindergarten room. Due to the increased school population and the lack of classroom space, the kindergarten classroom was relocated to what was the cafeteria, and the gymnasium doubled as the cafeteria.
A portable building containing 3 classrooms was moved to the playground area in 2005 to provide additional classrooms until a more permanent solution could be implemented. In 2009-2010, a capital campaign was launched to raise funds to expand the school building. Construction on an 8 classroom and office addition was started in 2010 and was completed in time for the Fall 2011 classes. This addition allowed the classes for all grades to be located in the same building, and moves the offices and the main school entrance to a more accessible location on the east side of the school.
The average enrollment of the school until 1899 was around 70 students. The largest school enrollment was 225 in the mid 1960’s for grades 1 through 8. Kindergarten was reinstated in the late 1970’s, and the pre-school was started in 1994. Enrollment for the 2017-18 school year is 201 students.
St. Mary Catholic School was awarded the Diocesan Banner School in 2000, 2014 and 2016.
The school currently teaches students from pre-school through 8th grade coming from all areas of Harvey County, and serves the parishes of St. Mary and Our Lady of Guadalupe in Newton, and Sacred Heart in Halstead.