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Medford’s Catholic Schools Got Start in Jacksonville, Ore.

In 1865, three Holy Names Sisters traveled to Jacksonville, Ore., to establish St. Mary’s Academy. The school had 12 boarding students and 33 daytime students.  It soon outgrew its location and was moved to California Street.

In 1908, the academy constructed a three-story building that housed 126 students and six Sisters at 13th and Holly streets in Medford.  By 1949, the nearby Sacred Heart parish bought the school and in 1952 constructed building at 11th and Ivy streets for students in grades one to 12.   

In 1961 the parish split the school population and built a new high school on Black Oak Drive.  The high school retained the name St. Mary’s and the grade school became Sacred Heart.

In 1965, one hundred years after its founding, eight Holy Names Sisters were still teaching at St. Mary’s and their presence continued until the 1980’s.  By 1971, the parish decided it could no longer afford both schools and voted to close the high school.  Due to an outpouring of supporters, St. Mary’s stayed open and became Oregon’s “first independent Catholic school.” 

St. Mary’s and Sacred Heart are celebrating their 150th anniversary this year.

Source: "History." Sacred Heart Catholic School. Sacred Heart School, 2015. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. .
"St. Mary's School: Mission and History." St. Mary's School. St. Mary's, 2010. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. www.smschool.us/page.cfm?p=362; "Medford Catholic Schools mark 150 years." Catholic Sentinel. 15 Sept. 2015. Web. 31 Jan. 2016. .

Luana (Loffer) Corbin graduated from Southern Oregon College, majoring in Elementary Education.  The summer after graduation she was hired to teach at Ruch Elementary, where she taught for 32 years. After retiring, Corbin worked for Lifetouch School Photography and then returned to Ruch as an aide helping with reading instruction and at the library.  More recently, she has volunteered at South Medford High.