Two dedicated groups of women religious. One vision of excellence. A shared vision of service to the Church and love of God's people led the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs) and the Sisters of the Divine Savior (SDS) to found schools to meet the spiritual and educational needs of young women in Milwaukee.
In 1892, eight BVM Sisters established Holy Angels Academy in a home at 12th and Cedar Streets in Milwaukee with 66 young women in attendance. Appreciation for the Sisters’ endeavors led to future enrollment growth that resulted in an addition to the school in 1897 and the construction of an imposing academy in 1927 on the site of the earlier buildings. This new academy became the place for the continued development and the heart of the Holy Angels tradition until 1970.
In 1926, five SDS Sisters established a convent high school with the name of Divine Savior at 35th and Center Streets in Milwaukee with 20 students in attendance. In 1948, the convent high school opened its doors to lay students as well, with the expectation that ground would be broken for a new high school building near 100th and Capitol. In 1951, the new Divine Savior High School opened its doors as a large and modern facility on spacious and beautiful grounds. From the beginning, a college preparatory academic program was established along with a wide range of extra curriculars, including sodality, student government, sports, forensics, debate, drama and journalism.
Both schools were challenged in the 1960’s by demographic, societal, and economic pressures that increasingly raised doubts about their futures. A proposal for an affiliation between the two schools, made by the leadership of their lay boards and supported by both communities, was most welcome. In 1970 the generous and amicable spirit of cooperation between the SDS and the BVMs in support of Catholic high school education for women was demonstrated when the two schools' names, traditions, and alumnae organizations were joined together to form Divine Savior Holy Angels High School (DSHA). In 1976, Dr. Angela T. Pienkos DS’58 was named the first laywoman chief administrator of the school.
DSHA began a new century of excellence when they celebrated a one-hundred-year tradition of women’s Catholic education in 1994. This milestone was followed by the construction of The Marie Esser Hansen (HA’43) Library, computer laboratory and business computer classroom in 1996. In 1998, a major renovation of the science department resulted in the creation of The Rose A. Monaghan Science Center and lecture hall. Also in 1998, DSHA installed its first president, Ellen S. Bartel. Under her leadership, DSHA attracts an expanded base of dedicated and generous individuals and dynamic supporting organizations committed to the school’s mission.
As we began the 21st century, the school, continuing under the sponsorship of the Sisters of the Divine Savior, became separately incorporated and governed by its own board of directors. Our vision for the future started to unfold with the construction of the Robert and Marie Hansen Family Fine Arts Theatre, The Quad, the Fridl Family Foyer and a new art suite, along with the development of a five year strategic plan and revised mission and vision statements. In 2003 “The Qualities of the DSHA Graduate,” a statement that serves as a public testament of what we are committed to achieving with each student and also as a framework that guides our institution's efforts at continuous improvement, was developed. The 2005-06 school year brought even more innovative and exciting changes. Enrollment continued to increase with 655 young women from 100 Catholic, private and public grade schools, up from 509 in 1999, marking the third consecutive year of capacity enrollment since 1982 and the seventh consecutive year that DSHA had a waiting list for the freshman class. A new Strategic Planning Initiative brought together representatives from every aspect of the DSHA community to build on the achievements of the Year 2000 Strategic Plan by engaging in dialogues around questions vital to our goal of taking the high school from great to greatest. The plan, which will take DSHA to our next level of excellence, provides a strategic framework for the integrated development of the Qualities of a DSHA graduate through a "whole person" philosophy of education.
It was announced in May 2006 that Vision DSHA: Performing the Extraordinary, a comprehensive capital campaign that began in 2001, exceeded its goal of $15 million by realizing $16,566,795. This bold initiative was designed to secure the resources to meet all of our school’s most pressing needs: a consistently-offered rigorous, rich and varied curriculum; improved DSHA faculty and staff compensation; meaningful financial assistance available for all qualified young women; and an expanded campus, ensuring outstanding facilities to support all components of this vision.
We look to the future with pride and optimism, knowing that we are carrying on the tradition of our founders – striving to serve the spiritual and educational needs of young women in the best way possible.