It was May 28, 1951, when Bishop George L. Leech announced the establishment of Good Shepherd Parish in Camp Hill, PA, a daughter parish of St. Theresa’s in New Cumberland. The new parish was placed under the leadership of Father Thomas Simpson. At that time, the Catholic community in the new parish territory numbered 317 households, 847 souls. By the time the church and school were built at 34th and Market Streets two years later, the parish had grown to 1,271 registered parishioners and quickly filled its modest church and school.
When the school opened its doors on September 1, 1953, the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary from Immaculata, PA, were entrusted with the education of parishioners’ children. Four sisters taught 132 students (56 boys, 76 girls) in grades 1-8 in the four classroom school — double grades in each classroom. In 1957, five more classrooms were added.
Finally, in 1962 the classroom capacity was increased by six more classrooms. By this time, the faculty and administration had grown to 6 sisters and 4 lay teachers. Student enrollment stood at 627 (310 boys, 317 girls). With expanded services and the need for additional classrooms, a two classroom modular unit was installed in 2001. But this was not to be the end. On June 9, 2003, Bishop Nicholas Dattilo gave the parish permission to spend $6 million for the construction of a parish hall and new education center. Upon completion of the parish hall, the planning and construction phases for the education center commenced immediately. Groundbreaking took place on May 20, 2006, and construction moved along steadily through the 2006-2007 school year. With the ability to construct the new building on the field adjacent to the existing building while the school program was in session, the contractors enjoyed a great advantage.
The school year came to an end, furnishings and equipment were transferred, the original building was demolished, and the property was graded for a new play area for the children. The Education Center was blessed by Bishop Kevin Rhoades on August 12, 2007, and a new chapter in the history of Good Shepherd Catholic School was launched. The new building covers 39,200 square feet with 20% more classroom space than before, and includes an enhanced library, fully equipped computer and science labs, and air-conditioning throughout.
Today the school serves over 200 students from Pre-School through 8th grade in 22 classrooms and gym. With the statue of the Good Shepherd that once stood on the lawn in front of the original church and school mounted on the exterior of the new building, the stainless steel cross that once stood atop the 1953 façade erected next to the building in such a way for all to see day and night, and pieces of stained glass from the original church incorporated into the new window of the Education Center, the heritage of the past is remembered and a legacy for the future is honored. As we celebrate 60 years gone by, we look to serving families and young people at Good Shepherd Catholic School through the mission of Catholic education for many years to come.