Immaculate Heart High School (Arizona)

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For the school in California, see Immaculate Heart High School (Los Angeles).
Immaculate Heart High School
Immaculate heart symbol.jpg
625 East Magee Road
Oro Valley, Arizona, Pima County, 85704
Coordinates 32°21′9″N 110°57′45″W / 32.35250°N 110.96250°W / 32.35250; -110.96250Coordinates: 32°21′9″N 110°57′45″W / 32.35250°N 110.96250°W / 32.35250; -110.96250
Type Private, Coeducational
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Established 1930
President Sister Luisa Sanchez
Principal Daniel Ethridge
Grades 912
Enrollment 93
Color(s) Blue and White         
Team name Knights
Accreditation North Central Association of Colleges and Schools,[1] Western Catholic Education Association
Affiliation Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart High School is a co-ed Catholic school in Oro Valley, Arizona (a suburb of Tucson). It is located in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson. The high school is part of a larger campus that includes an elementary and middle school. However, the high school is governed by a Board of Managers consisting of community leaders and businessmen along with a president and principal. The elementary and middle schools are governed by a different president and principal and are independentof the IHHS Board of Managers. All three campuses are the focus and mission of Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

The school bills itself as a small, close-knit campus with a focus on college preparatory curriculum. Historically, it has been viewed as more conservative than other Catholic schools in the area.[citation needed]


In July 2006, the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary approved a new model of management. This model is structured with a Board of Managers, a President and a Principal - to provide a business and strategic oversight. With the approval of this management structure, the president would focus on development, recruitment, marketing and strategic planning. The president also reports directly to the Board of Managers, and sits on the executive committee of the board along with several other committees including the Buildings and Grounds and Recruitment.


The Immaculate Heart first sent sisters to Tucson in 1917. In 2002, the order reported having 27 nuns living in Tucson, most of them at Immaculate Heart Lodge (located near the school), and at St. Ann's Convent.

In 1930, the sisters established Immaculate Heart Academy at 35 E. 15th St. near downtown Tucson. It was a private boarding school for girls, built of stone harvested from "A" Mountain — a peak that sits on the outskirts of the city. In 1962, the high school portion - to this day, the oldest continuously running Catholic high school in Tucson - moved to its present site in what is today Oro Valley in northwest Tucson.

The former downtown academy on 15th Street was sold in the early 2000s and in 2006 it was being converted into condominiums.

The school is not directly governed by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson so for a long time the school's biggest source of income came from boarding, which continued well into the 1990s. In 1962, a fire was started caused by a cigarette thrown into a wooden locker. This fire, though it didn't damage the school, managed to burn all of the graduation pictures from 1932 to 1960. In 1973, the school went co-ed. Fourteen years later, the grade school moved to the Northwest as well, and in 1994 the sisters built the middle school nearby. All three campuses, walking distance from one another, are now known collectively as Immaculate Heart Schools. The high school was named Suffolk Hills Catholic High School from 1971 to 1990. The mascot, now a Knight, used to be a Rebel, but was changed over concern from some that it did not portray the values that Catholic students should hold.[citation needed]

In late 2005, Immaculate Heart made known that it was in the process of developing a strategic plan to try to revive the high school campus. The sisters were successful in raising money for the school through various fundraising and capital improvement campaigns. A new school gymnasium was dedicated in November 2006. A month later, a local citizen donated $1 million to the school.[citation needed]

In 2007, the high school has initiated a strategic plan to increase enrollment to 250 in 3 to 5 years (enrollment in August, 2007 was 64). The high school initiated a 3-5 year capital campaign, which includes an increase in staffing to help increase enrollment, along with investing in cutting edge curriculum including Astrobiology and Virtual High School Netcourse - which open over 200 elective courses to IHHS students.

In 2005, the Academic Decathlon team won the 1A Arizona State Championship. The team would also win state championships in 2007 and 2008.[citation needed]

The Virgin Mary


The neighborhood surrounding the school's campuses is known as Suffolk Hills, named for the countess of Suffolk, who was a frequent visitor to Tucson from England many decades ago. It is her estate the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart purchased for use as an elementary school when the grade school moved out of Tucson. The caretaker's building became the school office. Stables were converted to classrooms. The former multicar garage now houses sixth-grade classes. The house itself is still home to eight sisters.

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