With a gift from Davenport’s Martin Gadient of some eleven acres of land in Northwest Davenport, Bishop Hayes established the new Our Lady of Victory Parish on September 13, 1962, appointing Rev. Kenneth O. Martin as first pastor.
During the first 18 months, services were held in the Assumption High School auditorium. John F. Kennedy Catholic School was built in 1964. The priests originally had living quarters in the school building during this time. Classes at JFK began in the fall of 1964, with the Sisters of Humility of Mary as teachers. There were a total of 180 students in grades 2 – 5.
The 1970’s brought several changes. The Sisters of the Roman Congregation shared the teaching duties with the Sisters of Humilty. Sister Aline Lambert was the principal of the school and Sister Lucille Fournier headed the religious education program of the parish. In 1976, the first Kindergarten class was established with 25 students. By 1977, the enrollment had reached 200 plus students.
The 1980’s brought more changes and new faces. The Sisters moved on and a full teaching staff of lay teachers began in 1980. David Burke became principal. The 1981-82 school year brought the addition of 7th grade, and 8th grade was added in 1982-83. Judith Calcari became the new principal in 1984. JFK continued to grow by adding a 2nd Kindergarten class. In 1985, Guardian Angel Preschool became the latest addition to JFK. Additional classrooms and a Parish Center were built in 1987.
All day Kindergarten was added to the curriculum in 2000. In 2001, the school offices and religious education offices were combined and reconfigured. An After School Extended Day Program was also added. Chad Steimle became the newest principal. In 2005 and 2006, major renovations were done to several restrooms and the media center, including the installation of a wireless computer network. In 2008, state grants for pre-school helped fuel the expansion of pre-school to five classes from three, and a full day pre-school/child care services option was added.
Funded by a capital campaign, Growing Our Faith…Shaping Generations, multiple additions and renovations were begun in spring 2011. A gathering space, which includes a large open area for socialization, meeting rooms, a restroom, kitchenette, grand staircase, and elevator was added to the church. A new baptismal font at the entry way was also added. At the school, a new entryway, offices, and restrooms were added at the north end of the building. Four classrooms were added on the east wing, and a classroom was expanded at the south for the Early Childhood Learning Center and child care services. Interior remodeling was also done to three classrooms and other areas of the building.
Leading the way in Catholic school education, JFK became a partner with the Iowa Department of Education and Mississippi Bend Area Education Agency in 2013 to pilot and then implement Multi-Tiered Systems of Support for literacy, which were soon expanded to math and social-emotional-behavioral supports. JFK continues to serve as a “Pilot with a Purpose” school for the Department of Education and provides valuable insight into how state initiatives might be implemented and modified for Catholic schools.
JFK leads the way with technology, being the first Catholic school in the area to have had a wireless network, interactive whiteboards, projectors, and document cameras in each classroom. It was the first to be 1:1 in grades 5-8, the first to be a GoogleDocs school, and the first to transition teachers to online lesson planning and grading.
JFK’s academically oriented summer programming, including K-5 Leaps & Bounds, 6-8 Math Boot Camp, and kindergarten Jump Start are the first of their kinds. With required annual science fairs, research paper writing, and public speaking, and optional activities like Mock Trial, speech and debate, coding, and STEM development, JFK’s school year activities are also second to none.
As it continues to prosper, it is clear that John F. Kennedy Catholic School is leading the way in Catholic school education.