Notre Dame High School (San Jose, California)

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Notre Dame High School
596 South 2nd Street

, ,

United States
Coordinates37°19′42″N 121°52′57″W / 37.32833°N 121.88250°W / 37.32833; -121.88250Coordinates: 37°19′42″N 121°52′57″W / 37.32833°N 121.88250°W / 37.32833; -121.88250
TypePrivate, All-Female
Motto"Teach them what they need to know for life."
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic
Established1851; 170 years ago (1851)
FounderSisters of Notre Dame de Namur
PrincipalMary Beth Riley
Average class size23
Color(s)Navy Blue and White   
SongOra et Labora
AccreditationWestern Catholic Educational Association
NewspaperCrown and Shield
TuitionUS$20,220 (2020–2021)[1]
Director of AdmissionsSusana Garcia
Director of DevelopmentLeah Schnoor
Dean of StudentsMichelle McGovern
Director of EnrollmentSusana Garcia
Athletic DirectorPaul Lapke
Activities DirectorCatherine Pandori

Notre Dame High School is a private, Catholic, college preparatory high school for girls founded in 1851 by the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur and operates within the Diocese of San Jose, California, USA. The school is located in San Jose, California. The school's mission is driven by the teachings of Saint Julie Billiart, the foundress of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur: "Teach them what they need to know for life."

School history[edit]

Notre Dame is an all-girls Catholic high school situated in downtown San Jose. The school was founded as the College of Notre Dame by the Catholic Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The Sisters of Notre Dame also ran St Joseph's (now the site of Adobe's HQs), St Leo's, St. Clare's, St Francis Xavier and St Mary's where many of the female students later came to Notre Dame High School and Notre Dame de Namur College.[3]

On August 4, 1851 the Women's College of Notre Dame and convent opened on ten acres of land at 1 Notre Dame Avenue and Santa Clara Street. Notre Dame was the sister school to the all Men's Santa Clara College located two and a half miles away West on The Alameda, San Jose.

In 1868, it became California's first chartered women's college authorized to grant the baccalaureate degree to women.[4] In 1900 the Conservatory of Music was built.[5]

In May 1901 US President McKinley visited the school and was presented rosebuds by the students.[6]

In 1923 the College of Notre Dame, high school and elementary school moved: to the Ralston estate,[7] located in Belmont on the San Francisco Peninsula while part of the high school (Santa Clara Street Academy)[8] moved to the O'Connor Mansion at Second and Reed Street in San Jose. The O'Connor Mansion, was donated in 1898 to the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur by Judge Myles P. O'Connor and his wife, Amanda.[9]

Myles and Amanda O'Connor Family home in San Jose that they gave to be used as an orphanage for girls in 1894 called the Notre Dame Institute. It would later become Notre Dame High School.

In 1958, the construction of two buildings began. Julie Billiart Hall served the purpose of a gathering place for school functions, a gym, and a cafeteria. Madonna Hall, later renamed Donnelly Hall in honor of Sister Mary Emmanuel Donnelly, is a two-story building that contains classrooms, teacher offices, and now a fully functional computer lab.

In 1965 a convent and chapel complex was built on the northeast corner of the campus (South 3rd St & East William St). It has a traditional Spanish architecture and central courtyard designed by architect Warren Gilbert. Today it has two stories and is referred to as the 'Student Life Center.' The first story houses two art classrooms, a garden, a religious studies classroom, counseling offices and various teacher and staff. The second story is home to the business office.

Notre Dame, San Jose est. 1851

On September 9, 2002 Manley Hall, a three-story building designed by Anderson-Brulé Architects replaced the O'Connor Mansion. The building, though modern in design and use, still conveys an air of age and history, as was the intent of the architects. To add to this feeling was the inclusion of the fireplaces and artifacts saved from the O'Connor Mansion, the more noticeable being the fireplace located in the library and the glass doors (though one is a replica) of the Alumnae Room. All of the floors of this building are decorated with the class photos from the school, the earliest dating before the 1890s.

In 2016 a major renovation of the campus was announced. The expansion of the campus now includes the entire city block bounded by East William, South 2nd street, East Reed and South 3rd street. It would involve the removal of six older campus buildings and the addition of four multi story buildings. It is currently going through city permit approval.[10]

As of 2020, it is 169 years old.

School mascots and colors[edit]

Notre Dame's crest is the coat of arms of the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. The school's original mascot, the Gremlin, was replaced in 2000 during the 150th anniversary of the school's founding. The new mascot, the Regent, expresses the students' abilities for growing, moving on, and facing new challenges. In addition, each year the freshman class chooses their own class mascot and colors.[11]

Class of 1929 - Rainbow Gold - San Jose's Fiesta de las Rosas Parade
Class Color 1 Color 2 Mascot
2024 Blue Gold Dragons
2023 Purple Mint Green Jaguars
2022 Orange Light Blue Raptors
2021 Red Teal Tigers
2020 Royal Blue Pink Griffins
2019 Green Gold Vipers
2018 Purple Yellow Dragons
2017 Teal Orange Ravens
2016 Blue Green Wolves
2015 Maroon Gold Goddesses
2014 Red Purple Phoenixes
2013 Teal Yellow Super Heroes
2012 Pink Green Cobras
2011 Royal Blue Orange Warriors
2010 Purple Gold Bandits
2009 Lime Green Turquoise Ninjas
2008 Pink Silver Tigers
2007 Red Gray Pirates
2006 Sapphire Blue Gold Phoenixes
2005 Light blue Purple Comets
2004 Green Silver Dragons
2003 Orange Yellow Flames
2002 Maroon Gold Wizards
2001 Red Brown Bulldogs
2000 Teal Silver Dragons
1999 Purple Gray Party Bombs
1998 Maroon Gold Jesters
1997 Green Black Marvin the Martian
1996 Teal Silver Penguins
1995 Purple White Dizzy Devils
1994 Red Gold Dragons
1993 Magenta Magenta 7 Panthers
1992 Turquoise Silver Dolphins
1991 Purple White Dinosaurs
1990 Gold Brown Chipmunks
1989 Black White Penguins
1988 Red White Teddy bears
1984 Black White Pandas
1981 Brown Gold Honeybees
1974 Purple Lavender Pirates
1972 Lemon Lime Lions
1967 Red White Warriors

Extracurricular activities[edit]

Notre Dame High School of San Jose (NDSJ) provides a wide variety of activities outside of classes, including numerous clubs, sports, and interaction with the San Jose community. Clubs can range from different cultures (i.e. Filipino Student Association, Latinas Unidas, Vietnamese Student Association) to hobbies (i.e. Culinary, Art, Film Fest) to helping students reach their goals in the future (i.e. Math Team, California Scholarship Federation). Different clubs can hold their own activities that may interact with other high schools around San Jose, giving the students a chance to socialize not only with the other classes of Notre Dame, but also with their peers from other schools. Each club is appointed a moderator, who is a teacher who oversees the club's meetings and activities, and a main council (president, VP, treasurer, secretary) that collaborates to organize and set up meetings and club-sponsored activities.

Big Sister/Little Sister Program[edit]

Notre Dame's close-knit community perpetuates sisterhood through its Big Sis'/Lil Sis' Program. Paired by homerooms, each third year student is appointed a frosh student. The junior student takes on the big sister role as a mentor for the frosh, since the transition between middle school to high school may be difficult for incoming students. The Big sis'/Lil sis' pair continue the following year when the frosh becomes a sophomore and the junior becomes a senior. When the senior graduates, her Lil Sis' becomes a junior who then takes on the Big Sis role and consequently gets matched with an incoming student the following year.


Notre Dame San Jose admits around 170 young women each year. Many students come from the Catholic middle schools, Challenger, Stratford, Orchard and other private and public schools. The school holds an open house each October for families to visit.

They offer Seventh graders a "preview afternoon" in April where they can more about the school. Serious Seventh grade catholic school students should consider joining Notre Dame's LEADS program (Learn, Empower, Act, Discover).[12]

Eighth graders have an Eighth grade day in November. Eighth graders can also sign up to shadow a Notre Dame student for a day from September to December.

The school requires a High School Placement Test (HSPT) and a completed application form to be considered for admission.[13]

Community service[edit]

One graduation requirement of students is community service hours. The point in adding community service as a graduation requirement is to teach girls how to be "socially responsible and answer the call to be a person of justice." NDSJ tries to integrate justice into their students by making the girls look at their surroundings and try to make a difference in the San Jose community.

The service hour requirements are as follows:

Freshmen: 10 hours working with women and children.

Sophomores: 15 hours working with the marginalized and vulnerable populations (ex. elderly, physically/mentally impaired, refugees, and/or migrant workers).

Juniors: 20 hours of service at one agency to address a local issue of the student's choice (ex. environment, health care/hospital work, immigration, literacy, or socio-economic disadvantages.) 10 hours may be completed during the summer prior to junior year.

Seniors: Student designed Senior Service Learning Project. (SSLP) 25+ project portfolio and group reflection session. All hours may be completed during the summer before senior year.


  • Notre Dame holds a "Women of Impact" luncheon that honors women leaders making a significant contribution to society.[14]
  • Every year Notre Dame chooses a Rene Lepiane Leadership Award[15] Recipient from the class of incoming students. The award is in recognition of exceptional young women who exhibit leadership and compassion.
  • For incoming freshmen at Notre Dame, they have the opportunity to receive the Julie Billiart Scholar Award, meaning they scored on the 98th-99th percentile on their High School Proficiency Assessment, and as a student at Notre Dame, if they maintain a 3.8 GPA during their 4 years they are also recognized at their graduation.[16]

Notable alumnae[edit]

  • Angela Dimayuga '03 - Executive chef and cultural advocate[17]
  • Michelle Do '01 - Youngest member in history of the U.S. Women's Table Tennis Team, for the 2000 Olympics.[18]
  • Linda Park '96 - Actress. Famous for her role as Hoshi Sato on Star Trek: Enterprise.[19]
  • Fatima Farheen Mirza '09 - New York Times Bestselling Author, A Place for Us published by SJP for Hogarth[20]


  1. ^ "Tuition - NDSJ". Retrieved 2020-04-28.
  2. ^ "Notre Dame High School San Jose - Traditions & Symbols – Mascot History: Regents, mascot used to be Gremlins". Retrieved 2015-09-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  3. ^ "The Evening News - Google News Archive Search". Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  4. ^ San Jose Historic Walk
  5. ^ Music Performance Program begins.
  6. ^ Souvenir of the Carnival of Roses by H L Miller 1901
  7. ^ "Image: Final-1910-timeline_WEB.jpg, (620 × 948 px)". 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2015-09-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Early History | Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur". Retrieved 2015-09-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ Honorable and Mrs. Myles P. O'Connor donate their home to the school.
  10. ^ | Notre Dame High School DC Zoning File # PDC-15-032
  11. ^ NDSJ's Mascot History.
  12. ^ Notre Dame's L.E.A.D. program for 7th Grade Catholic School Girls.
  13. ^ NDSJ Admissions web page
  14. ^ NBC KNTV covers Notre Dame San Jose's Women of Impact Sept 9, 2017.
  15. ^ "Our Rene". Retrieved 2015-09-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "Notre Dame High School San Jose - Scholarships". Retrieved 2015-09-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  17. ^ "Angela Dimayuga: Chef Behind the Wok at Mission Chinese - NYTimes". Retrieved 2018-11-06. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "Ping-Pong Wizard / Michelle Do, a 17-year-old at Notre Dame High, is a member of the U.S. table-tennis team. - SFGate". Retrieved 2015-09-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ "Cannot open file..." (PDF). Retrieved 2015-09-02. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ Christensen, Lauren (2018-06-01). "Sarah Jessica Parker Has a Book She Wants You to Read (Published 2018)". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2020-11-18.

External links[edit]