The history of St. Monica’s School dates back to 1856 when the first chapel-school was opened in Glass St, Essendon to cater for the growing number of Catholic families in the locality.
The original building, constructed of iron, and called the “iron pot” was relocated to Robinson St. Moonee Ponds in 1880 where it continued to be used as a church and school till 1884 when the ‘new’ St. Monica’s Church was blessed and opened.
As the number of students increased over the years additional classrooms and staff were needed.
A new school-hall was blessed and opened in 1891 iandn 1896 when enrolments had reached in excess of 400, the Sisters of Charity arrived in Essendon to take over the Principalship and staffing of St. Monica’s School.
By then the school had a reputation in the area for excellence in education. The local Gazette reported in 1893 on the ‘Brilliant success at St. Monica’s School’ and, ‘the contribution of its students to the musical and cultural life of the community.’
St. Monica’s Boys’ School was blessed and opened in 1918 by Archbishop Mannix. The Christian Brothers were to begin sixty five years of leadership and teaching at the school. One of its pupils, Thomas Francis Little, was later to become Archbishop of Melbourne.
In 1982 the first lay principal in almost one hundred years was appointed to the Girls’ School. A major refurbishment and extension project followed in preparation for the amalgamation of the Girls’ and Boys’ Schools.
On the 18th March 1984, Bishop O’Connell blessed and opened St. Monica’s Parish School.
By the mid-1990s three more classrooms were erected to meet increasing student enrolments which by then had reached five hundred.
In 2010, St. Monica’s Primary School welcomed Bill Shorten and Bishop Costelloe to open and bless our New Learning Centre. This building caters for the students in Year 1 and 2. The Prep classrooms were also refurbished with new Interactive Whiteboards and heating/cooling installed.
In 2012, the Middle School Building Project was completed. This building converted a historical building that was over a hundred years old into a dynamic, multi-purpose, flexible learning space that would support a contemporary learning model of education and maximise learning experiences for all its students. The builing comprises of six classrooms, two shared learning areas, inside/outside zones, central kitchen, meeting rooms and staff work areas. On Friday 23rd November, 2012 St. Monica’s welcomed His Grace, Archbishop Hart and Monsignor Peter Kenny who officially opened and blessed the builing.
The Council of Educational Facility Planners International recognised the outstanding design, awarding Baldasso Cortese Architects the OVerall Winner of `Award for Renovation – Modernisation of a School’. The Judges comments were `Transformative conversion of a traditional classroom layout into a finely nuanced range of agile learning areas with a wet construction area/kitchen at its heart. Added benefit of multiple integrations between interior spaces with new outdoor learning `rooms’. This is a respectful architectural intervention of new to old with a sophisticated and non-institutional in-terior design. The interior resolution is exemplary for its purposeful settings.’