History & Traditions

Carondelet Groundbreaking 1965

We begin with a sense of origins, the origins of the founding congregation which are paralleled in the origins of this educational institution.

In the beginning, in 1650 France, Jean Pierre Medaille, SJ gathered together six women who wished to serve the church by going outside the cloister to serve the needs of others, particularly the women of Le Puy. The founding women were placed under the protection of St. Joseph and were challenged to divide the city, identify the needs, and practice the spiritual and corporal works of mercy, to become all of which woman is capable in service to the dear neighbor.

The Le Puy foundation grew steadily until the French Revolution when all convents were disbanded. In God’s providence, Jeanne Fontbonne was first saved from the guillotine and then commissioned to re-found the Congregation in Lyons. In 1836, at the request of Bishop Joseph Rosati of St. Louis, Mother St. John Fontbonne sent six Sisters to serve the church in America.

History of Carondelet High School

Carondelet High School was founded in 1965 by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet at the request of Bishop Floyd Begin, first bishop of Oakland. In the tradition of their congregation, the Sisters responded to the needs of the Church by establishing the only Catholic secondary school for young women of Contra Costa County.

The school's spacious campus, brick buildings, and gracious columns and balconies suggest the Spanish origin of the word CARONDELET, a settlement outside St. Louis, the first home of the Sisters when they came from France.

Opening in September 1965 with only six classrooms available for use, the school's original faculty/staff comprised three Sisters and three lay women, with a freshman class of 115. On October 22, 1966, with all buildings completed, the school was formally dedicated by Bishop Begin, a close friend and supporter of Carondelet.

Because of the small size of the student body, a tradition of Christian community, innovation, and pursuit of excellence was established. The tradition has grown with the enrollment. By June 1969 Carondelet had not only graduated its first class of 100 students, but had also established a Student Body Constitution, earned National Honor Society and California Scholarship Federation charters, and received accreditation by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges, as well as the Western Catholic Educational Association.

The school's spacious campus, brick buildings, and gracious columns and balconies suggest the Spanish origin of the word CARONDELET, a settlement outside St. Louis, the first home of the Sisters when they came from France.

Over the years, Carondelet's innovations have included a rotating block schedule and a midsession program. In September 1977 Carondelet adopted a phase scheduling plan. The phase scheduling program was designed to offer a variety of options concerning the length, depth, and extent of courses depending upon course content and individual student need. Phase scheduling also allowed students time for activities, athletics, special interest classes and projects during the regular school day. In the fall of 1995 both schools effected yet another schedule change whereby classes meet four times weekly, including one extended period. This schedule allows students to prep for fewer classes each night, which has a demonstrated impact on student stress levels and overall wellbeing.

The Carondelet High School and De La Salle High School Partnership

In September 1969 Carondelet also established a cooperative program with De La Salle High School whereby juniors and seniors attend selected classes on either campus. This cooperation also extends to a common calendar and schedule, joint faculty committees, student activities, and a sharing of facilities. Our collaboration offers a unique approach that combines the extraordinary benefits of a single sex educational environment in the initial high school years with co-ed opportunities in the upper grades. In addition, our students develop a deep bond with each other, and this “sisterhood” continues well beyond their four years of high school.

The Carondelet Campus

The Carondelet High School campus is widely recognized by its uniquely beautiful design characterized by graceful columns and the pristine plaza at the heart of the campus. As new buildings have been added, the master plan has ensured that they reflect the school’s lovely original architecture while allowing for innovation within the school program.

In 1998, the Silvio Garaventa, Sr. Center was dedicated. This multi-purpose cafeteria facility serves 800 students by day and provides a dining and social facility for student, parent, alumnae and community events. To accommodate rapidly expanding school programs, the original cafeteria wing was remodeled to include campus ministry-student activity center, art classroom, yearbook laboratory, student store, bookroom and offices.

In the Spring of 2000, the science wing was remodeled so that each of the five classrooms had its own lab. In 2001, the parking structure with roof-top sports surface was completed and dedicated. In 2003 the library and computer center were renovated to include state of the art technology. The college and career center was also completed that same year.

A new wing adjacent to the gymnasium on the south side of the campus was completed in the summer of 2005. This building houses several classrooms, extensive student art displays, and a south lobby entrance to the gymnasium.

During the summers of 2007 & 2008, 18 classrooms in the original academic building were remodeled to include state-of-the-art educational technology/media capabilities, new wall surfaces, cabinetry, paint and flooring. A Learning Center was subsequently added. This project completes the renovation and updating of the academic building classrooms.

In 2016, Carondelet received approval from the City of Walnut Creek to transform the former Valley Vista Tennis & Swim Center into a state-of-the-art athletics complex that will house seven sports: tennis, soccer, softball, lacrosse, swimming, diving and water polo. In February 2017, the school broke ground on the facility - located just 2 1/2 miles from the main campus - and it opened in 2018.

The Winton Drive campus will also see the addition of the new Jean Hofmann Center for Innovation in 2019. In summer of 2017, a STEM advisory committee was formed to develop next generation programming and architectural plans for the site.

The Carondelet High School Legacy

From the beginning Carondelet High School faculty has educated, challenged and enabled young women to integrate Gospel values, to intelligently apply these values to their lives, to reflect these values through leadership and service to the greater community. We strive for excellence in all we do to educate the whole person---mind, body and spirit--- but we also educate to serve a world in need.

As you visit the various sections of our website, we hope you will catch the reality of this extraordinary school, as well as the spirit which lies at the heart of Carondelet High School.

Carondelet's History Book Published

Valiant Women.
Carondelet High School –The First Fifty Years

Written by Sister Eleanor Eagan, CSJ, Valiant Women tells the history of Carondelet's founding and shares decades of stories of sisterhood, faith and community.

Books are available for purchase in the bookstore for $15, with $5 going toward the newly created Sister Eleanor Scholarship Fund.

In the beginning...

Construction of our main building in 1965

First graduates - 1969

Groundbreaking for the Garaventa Center -1997