In 1892, eight Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (BVMs) established Holy Angels Academy in a house 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 the new Holy Angels Academy in 1927 at 1218 W. Kilbourn in Milwaukee.
In 1926, five Sisters of the Divine Savior (SDS) established a convent high school with the name of Divine Savior at 35th and Center Streets in Milwaukee with 20 young women 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 Street and Capitol Drive.
The newly constructed Divine Savior High School opened its doors in 1951 as a large and modern facility on spacious and beautiful grounds. In 1958, the sisters added a gymnasium, which served as a physical education classroom, and eventually as a site for Masses and dances.
Both schools were challenged in the 1960s by demographic, social and economic pressures that increasingly raised doubts about their futures.
The leadership of the lay boards of both schools proposed an affiliation that would ensure the continuation of their shared mission of exemplary education for young women. In 1970, the generous spirit of cooperation between the SDS and the BVMs was demonstrated when our 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 lay woman chief administrator of our school. Dr. Pienkos served DSHA until 1997. During her tenure, the Marie Esser Hansen Library and the Rose Monaghan Science Center were built, signaling a time for change at DSHA.
DSHA began a new century of excellence when we celebrated our one-hundred-year tradition of Catholic education for young women in 1992.
In 1998, DSHA installed our first president, Ellen S. Bartel. Under her leadership, DSHA grew to capacity enrollment, while expanding our academic and co-curricular offerings to their current level of excellence. As a result, DSHA attracted 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 continued under the sponsorship of the Sisters of the Divine Savior, but became separately incorporated and governed by its own board of directors. Our successful Vision campaign led to significant facility changes and a stronger financial foundation for continued growth.
This major campus expansion in 2002 included the Robert and Marie Hansen Family Fine Arts Theatre; The Quad; the Fridl Family Foyer; and three visual art studio classrooms. These new facilities led to a dramatic increase and significant success in our fine arts programs. Of equal importance, our sense of community was strengthened as the theatre, Quad and foyer became critical gatherings spaces for liturgy, assemblies, daily lunch hour and meetings of all kinds.
Believer, Critical Thinker, Communicator, Leader. These words, introduced in 2003 in our statement of The Qualities of the DSHA Graduate, have become the public testament of what we are committed to achieving with each student. For each young woman, they provide the framework that guides her reflection on her own growth and development.
In 2009, S. Virginia Honish, SDS, completed her 18-year tenure as principal of DSHA. She was succeeded by Dan Quesnell.
Our continued commitment to whole person education and our growing insight into the best strategies for healthy, balanced growth for young women sparked a new approach to the development of our student body, which was developed over the course of three years from 2012-15. A focus on personal wellness and life-long habits of balance led to curriculum and programmatic innovations made possible by the Building on Our Faith campaign and its dramatic expansion of our campus facilities. DSHA opened its new Health, Wellness and Academic Center, including the Chris and John McDermott Gymnasium; the R. J. Fridl Commons; the Sarah M. Hegarty Fitness Center; an instrumental and vocal music suite; and six instructional classrooms. The Mother of Our Savior Chapel in the Sylvia DuBois Chapel and Campus Ministry Center opened as the spiritual heart of our campus. The complete renovation of Student Services, Guidance and the College Center completed the project.
DSHA is a dynamic learning community of over 680 young women, 100 talented and dedicated faculty and staff, involved and supportive families and we count over 14,000 women as alumnae of our school. Our Catholic faith shapes our daily life and guides our decisions. Our philosophy of whole person education and development is demonstrated through the rigorous college preparatory curriculum and the robust and balanced campus ministry, co-curricular, fine arts and athletic offerings made available to each young woman. Our student body, by design, is diverse, comprised of young women from a wide variety of racial, cultural, ethnic and religious groups. One-third of our students receive scholarship assistance, thus ensuring a broad socio-economic representation.
Coming to DSHA from over 100 of the metropolitan area’s grade schools, these young women learn together and from each other in a school community where they are challenged and encouraged to make the most of their God-given gifts. Each year, 100% of our graduates continue their education at an impressive array of our nation’s best colleges and universities. There they experience notable success as their strong DSHA preparation has readied them to compete and thrive successfully.
As a school committed to continuous improvement, we regularly evaluate our impact and continue to evolve to ensure the most effective experience for each and every girl. We look to the future with pride and optimism, knowing that we are carrying on the tradition of our founders: the development of young women of faith, heart and intellect who will be committed to living lives that will make a difference.