Father John Mary Powers was called upon by Bishop Farelly to build a parish and elementary school in what was then known as the “village” of Cleveland Heights. Fr. Powers (his middle name Mary because of his own mother’s devotion to Our Blessed Mother) was a maverick: a man with a sense of humor and sense of justice, a man who admired culture and the arts, and a man who strove to bring God’s word to both parishioners and schoolchildren.
In 1916, Fr. Powers opened St. Ann School with only eight classrooms. The first graduating class matriculated in June 1917 with just one student! It was in 1925 that the current school building was built in the Beaux-Arts style by noted architect George Hunt Ingraham. Fr. Powers, who appreciated both politics and design, defied city code zones by secretly adding a third floor in the building. From the outside, our school appears to be only two stories; the architect “hid” the third story behind a parapet wall. (We are glad he did because our charming school library is housed there.) Ursuline Nuns, from France, came to Cleveland in 1850, and it was these sisters who educated the children of St. Ann’s for generations. Fr. Powers also purchased a mansion on Coventry to serve as a convent for the Ursulines.
The “spirit of St. Ann” was a way of life and it was happy one. Fr. Powers was known to have the children to sing en mass to him – resulting in their being given St. Patrick’s day off from school to attend the parade downtown. A roller rink was installed in what is now our school cafeteria – bringing years of entertainment to the school community. Academics and the arts were paramount to the education of the school children, and C.Y.O created a tradition of strong athleticism, representing our school as city champions in multiple sports. First and foremost, however, the passing on of the Catholic faith was the primary goal of the school, and between the years of 1954-1970 upwards of 1,200 children attended St. Ann School each year.
In 2010, St. Ann Parish merged with St. Philomena Parish and Christ the King Parish of East Cleveland and St. Louis Parish of Cleveland Heights forming the new Communion of Saints Parish. Over the years, all four parishes had strong grade schools serving their respective communities but with the change of demographics by 2003 only one grade school remained: St. Ann School. After the merger, Bishop Lennon renamed St. Ann School to reflect the name of the new parish.
Despite the merger and the new name, the St. Ann’s “way of life” continued in the newly-named Communion of Saints School. That same year, Communion of Saints School was recognized as A Blue Ribbon School of Excellence! Today, Communion of Saints School remains committed to fostering the faith formation and strong academic education of our community’s children. Our current Pastor, Fr. Dan Schlegel shares the same goal as that of Fr. Powers – to bring the Word of God to our students. Let’s Go Sabres!!