St. Thomas More Begins 150th Year in School History

August 11, 2020 – St. Thomas More High School began the 150th year in its history yesterday with the Thomas More Open, an annual golf outing benefiting the school’s Legacy Scholarship Fund.

Throughout the upcoming year, at events, fundraisers, and through supporter communications, St. Thomas More will celebrate the Legacy of Faith, Service & Leadership that the school community has cultivated over the past 150 years. This year’s 150th Anniversary celebrations will culminate with an All-School Reunion on June 19, 2021, at St. Thomas More High School.

“The 150th Anniversary celebrations will be such a great opportunity to not only reflect on our deep, rich history but also to celebrate an extremely bright future for St. Thomas More,” board member and finance committee chair Eric Conner (TM ’03) said. “Gathering together as one community will be something to see, and I am grateful to be a part of it.”

Dating back to 1870, St. Thomas More’s illustrious history also includes its predecessor schools: Pio Nono High School (initially founded as Catholic Normal School and Pio Nono College), St. Francis Minor Seminary, and Don Bosco High School.

Initially focused on music education for high school and college students, starting in 1923, Pio Nono High School served exclusively as a Catholic boarding and day school for young men, and the school was expanded in 1931 and again in the mid-1960s. In 1941, Pio Nono was temporarily converted into St. Francis Minor Seminary, which served high school students planning to enter the priesthood. Once de Sales Preparatory Seminary opened in 1963, steps were taken to re-open the school again as Pio Nono High School.

In 1945, Marianist brothers and priests from St. Louis opened Don Bosco High School, located at the intersection of 12th Street, Becher Street, and Windlake Avenue on Milwaukee’s south side. Don Bosco flourished throughout the 1940s and into the early 60s, earning a reputation for fine academic preparation as well as excellent extra-curriculars. With enrollment declining as families moved from the city to the suburbs, in 1972, Don Bosco and Pio Nono merged to form St. Thomas More High School. The school welcomed its first class of female students in 1989.

“The different philosophies and raisons d’etre – French for ‘reasons for being’ – that comprised the core of our predecessor schools have combined and evolved, forming a mission at St. Thomas More that is greater than the sum of its parts,” St. Thomas More president Mary McIntosh said. “For 150 years, because of their commitment to Faith, Service, and Leadership, St. Thomas More and its predecessor schools have created a community of graduates who strive for excellence in all their endeavors.”

At the All-School Reunion on June 19, 2021, St. Thomas More will honor one of the school’s most recognizable and influential figures: former president and principal Tom Knitter. St. Thomas More had planned to honor Knitter at the 2020 St. Thomas More Dinner Auction, but, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this event was shifted to a virtual format without a specific honoree.

“This school has meant so much to generations of students and it continues to have an incredible impact on students today,” Alumni Director Dan Steffes (TM ’03) explained. “As we celebrate a century and a half, we are proud to honor Tom Knitter, who has been a leader of the St. Thomas More family for fifty of those years. He is an icon in our community and is most deserving of the school’s highest honor.”

Over the coming months, please check your inbox regularly and follow St. Thomas More on social media for more information about how our school community will be celebrating our Legacy of Faith, Service & Leadership.

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