St. Philip Neri School has been a strong presence in the South Shore Community since it first opened in 1913. Irish-Americans and other people of Western European ancestry first established the school. The founding priests, sisters and families were determined that their institution would add to the well-being and growth of the church and the greater South Shore Community. Indeed, so solid was their conviction that the first building they planned was a combination church and school structure. Construction began long before the permanent church was built. That initial worship space was located where the present-day main entrance way is - the section of the school now referred to as the rotunda.
Dominican Sisters who were based in Adrian, Michigan first staffed the school. For decades their ministry of education assured the vitality of St. Philip Neri. The school continuously grew and by 1919 sixteen classrooms were in operation. In 1934 a Primary School Building consisting of five classrooms was erected adjacent to Aquinas Dominican High School at the southwest corner of 72nd Street and Clyde Avenue. This addition was needed to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding community.
The mid-1960’s through the early 1970’s brought both progress and turbulence to the school as South Shore and the City of Chicago were going through significant racial and economic change. As upwardly mobile African Americans moved into the area in large numbers some long-time community residents chose to remain in the neighborhood; however other residents moved away to avoid their new neighbors. A combination of intolerance, fear, openness and steadfastness transformed the entire neighborhood but through it all St. Philip Neri endured and prospered. In September of 1990 two brand new classrooms were added to accommodate the expanded Preschool Program. Today it is a fully accredited and thriving program for two through five year-old children.
Saint Philip Neri School is prepared to carry on its mission in timely and relevant ways. Still, after more than nine decades, St. Philip Neri students are being taught and nurtured in a strong curriculum. Families are finding support and hope through the school’s family-centered programming and outreach. New technologies that are essential to the 21st Century world economy are being introduced. Good morality and ethics are being stressed. Black Heritage and other world cultures are being studied, celebrated and valued. Expressive Arts, creativity and service are emphasized. Health, safety and good nutrition are given priority. Most newcomers are impressed by what’s happening at St. Philip Neri and they frequently comment on how welcome and respected they feel when they drop in.
It is no wonder why students from St. Philip Neri School are excelling at premier high schools and graduating from prestigious universities throughout the United States. At a time when many school systems are failing, future laborers, business people, public servants, ministers of all kinds, specialists, technicians, well-formed Christians and great contributors to society are receiving formative training at St. Philip Neri School. The enduring values and the strong education St. Philip Neri provides lasts a lifetime.