Saint Anthony School dates its inception to the fall of 1883 when Mrs. Cecilia Morse began school classes for 14 students in the kitchen of her home. As she said: "The children will not wait." In April 1884, classes were moved to the church and in November 1884, to a 24’ x 24’ frame building. On December 13, 1888, Mr. and Mrs. Thomas J. Quigley deeded a five-acre square of land in front of the parish property to Father Gerard for use by the town and the parish. The details of the secession of the land to St. Leo Abbey are not easy to uncover but in the early 1900s the abbey deeded the park to the city of San Antonio with the understanding that it would be for the use of the school during the school day. For over 100 years the park has been used for a variety of activities including outdoor classes, physical education classes, and both intramural and intermural sports.
On September 1, 1889, the Benedictine Sisters, newly arrived from Pennsylvania, took over the administration and staffing of Saint Anthony School, and nearby Saint Joseph School. The sisters’ home was a large, three-story hotel located on the north side of the park. In 1912, this building was moved on logs by oxen to the hill overlooking Lake Jovita and became known as Holy Name Convent and Academy, a boarding school for girls. In 1959, the building was condemned by the fire department. The sisters lived with the townspeople and the students resided in the third floor auditorium of St. Anthony School until Holy Name Priory in St. Leo was ready for occupancy.
In August 1891, the School Board of Pasco County granted the request of the resident pastor and appointed two sisters as teachers to "San Antonio Public School #14." In 1918, sisters were no longer permitted to teach in public schools and members of Saint Anthony parish assumed full responsibility for the continuance of St. Anthony School. This arrangement was maintained until the 1980s when changing demographics and the continued financial drain on a single parish moved diocesan officials to recommend that the school become an Interparochial responsibility. The four parishes of St. Anthony, St. Rita, St. Joseph and Sacred Heart combined efforts to set the tone and seek financial stability for Saint Anthony School.
In 1892, a larger school building, a two-story frame one, on the site of the present school, was completed. The building served as school and social hall until 1922 when it was torn down to make room for the three-story brick structure which now houses the school. There were four classrooms on the main floor, a basement lunchroom and the upper floor was a community auditorium. The total cost of the construction was procured through donations: $22,690.
In 1988, a number of renovations were made to bring the structure in line with current fire safety codes: fire retardant sheet rock walls, metal doors, a new alarm system and basement sprinklers. The ceilings were lowered, window air-conditioners were installed and the entire electrical system rewired. Like our ancestors at Saint Anthony School, this $90,000 renovation project was accomplished through personal, corporate and parish donations without touching the operating budget of the school. In 2003, the school leased three classroom buildings from the Benedictine Sisters of Florida where we operated an early education program. In the summer of 2009, this portion of our program was closed and kindergarten was moved to a house on the school’s main campus.
In 2004-05, the school sustained water damage from two major hurricanes. The renovation during the Christmas break included roof repairs, replacement of ceiling tiles, blinds and carpet through the main building. The project cost was close to $290,000. Thank God for diocesan insurance coverage and an anonymous donor who contributed the cost of the school’s deductible!
Today the school serves 165 students in kindergarten through grade 8 and has an operating budget in excess of $1,000,000. Students come from 10 different Catholic parishes in Quail Hollow, Lutz, Land O Lakes, Spring Hill, Brooksville, Ridge Manor, New Tampa, Wesley Chapel, Zephyrhills, San Antonio, Dade City, St. Joseph and St. Leo.
- First classes opened in March 1883 on the porch of the priests’ residence
- Present school building was constructed in 1922
- Early childhood facility was leased from the Benedictine Sisters in 2002
- From 1883 until 1989 Saint Anthony School was the only Catholic elementary school in Pasco County
- Since 1985 has been an “interparochial” school supported through subsidies from St. Anthony Parish (San Antonio), St. Joseph Parish (Zephyrhills), St. Rita Parish (Dade City) and Sacred Heart Parish (St. Joseph).
- 86% of students are from 8 different Catholic parishes in a 4-county area
- 212 students in K through 8; 24 staff members
- Fully accredited by the Florida Catholic Conference
- All teaching staff are Florida certified teachers; several have Masters degrees
- PE, music, Spanish and media experiences to all students
- 30-computer lab donated mainly by local industry and Saint Leo University
- Offer extended care for early morning and after-school hours
- Graduates are readily accepted into four Catholic high schools, the IB program and advanced placement courses in 4 public high schools An on-campus guidance counselor and student support services personnel
- Intermural sports program. Games are played with the four Catholic elementary schools in the Northern Cluster: Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties
- Wednesday (optional, for fee) pizza lunch program sponsored by the Parent-School Association Students attend weekly Eucharistic liturgy (Mass) and have the opportunity to receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation (confessions) four (4) times a year
- Annual budget of $1,133,080.00
- Annual Celebrity Waiter Dinner fund-raiser in its 18-year history has contributed over $1,085,000 to the annual budget and the endowment fund
- Annual parent-organized Fun Run raises over $10,000 a year
- Through their annual family fund-raising commitment parents contribute $500 per family toward the Parent-School Association commitment of $50,000