In 1987, the parish community of Saint Thomas Aquinas, under the direction of the Pastor Reverent Fabian Gimeno, approached the Diocese of Orlando with a desire and plan to build the first parochial school in Osceola County. Father Fabian fulfilled the diocese’s request to conduct a needs assessment as to the feasibility of building a Catholic school for the Saint Cloud area. After presenting the plan and the study to the Diocesan Board of Education, Father Fabian was given the approval to build a school on the church’s property on Brown Chapel Road.
In December of 1987, Saint Thomas Aquinas launched its fund raising campaign, quickly raising the funds to begin construction.
Built as the first school in the newly formed Diocese of Orlando, Saint Thomas Aquinas Catholic School opened on August 21, 1989 under the devoted leadership of the Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland. Presiding over the school as principal, Sister Linda Martin, along with Assistant Principal Sister Ann Whitley, welcomed the first one hundred and twenty-three pre-kindergarten to second grade students.
As years passed, Saint Thomas steadily increased its enrollment figures. With this in mind, the community once again set out to build additional classrooms to house its own middle school. In 1991, the parish began to raise funds to expand the school. While construction proceeded, the middle school classes were held in the art/music room.
At the start of the 1994-1995 school year, the new middle school rooms and science lab were completed. In the fall of 1996, two additional four classroom pods were added to accommodate more classes. Continuing to see the need to provide the students with a first rate environment, the parish raised funds to build a gymnasium/assembly space that also included office space for new parish offices to accommodate the needs of the entire community. In 2000, the school held physical education classes in the new building.
After serving as Principal for seven years at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, Sister Linda Martin moved back to Ohio to become a principal closer to her motherhouse. Mrs. Jo Ann Kandrac was selected as the second principal of STA and held the position from 1997-2000. Mrs. Kandrac focused on the traits of enhancing the reverence, respect and responsible nature of our students. After Mrs. Kandrac’s term as principal Mr. Kerrye Glass was selected for the position.
Mr. Glass was principal of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School from July 2000 to December 2001. Mr. Glass was called to serve in the Army Reserve after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. Although the duration of his leadership was cut short to serve our country, he managed to develop a positive rapport with the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School Community. Due to the abrupt departure of Mr. Glass, Mrs. Vicki Kuethe, then fourth grade teacher, was assigned the position as interim principal. Mrs. Kuethe served as interim principal from January 2002 through June 2003.
In July of 2003, Mr. Mark Talerico was hired to fill the principal position. Mr. Talerico led our school through the previous accreditation (2004). Mr. Talerico was principal for a year, and then moved to Pennsylvania. Mr. Phillip Brady then took over the position in July of 2004.
Under the leadership of Principal Philip Brady, the campus was maintained in the general areas of painting, landscaping, and technology networking. Thanks to the generous donation from the Wolf Estate, a new science lab equipped with nine workstations was also added. Additionally, security fencing was installed to ensure the safety of the students. Thanks to the dedication of parent, teacher, and student volunteers, the classrooms were repainted, classroom carpet was replaced with tile, and the outside areas were re-mulched, weeded, and spruced up. Twenty-six trees were acquired through a grant written by a parent of a former student which helped to further beautify the school grounds. Sadly, Mr. Brady died in January of 2008. Mrs. Mary Ellen Massey was appointed as interim principal for the duration of the 2008 school year.
Following the death of Mr. Brady, a new principal was selected for the 2008-2009 academic year. Mrs. Mary Tumbleson officially began her term as principal in July 2008. Mrs. Tumbleson resigned her position in March of 2009, once again forcing the appointment of yet another interim principal, Mrs. Maura Cox. After completing an extensive search the Principal Selection Committee offered the position to Mrs. Cox. Mrs. Cox is the now the ninth principal of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School since the inception of the school in 1989.
Mrs. Cox led our school through its successful accreditation to the Florida Catholic Conference in 2010. Over the past three years the school has continually gone through improvements to maintain the best educational environment for our schools.
Twenty-five plus years of quality Catholic education, along with the vision of the current school community, provide a solid foundation. As a Catholic school, St. Thomas Aquinas School views the spirituality of its children as one of its highest priorities. The school day must center about the faith, both in teaching and in living. Parents choose a Catholic school over a private, independent school for the very fact that it has a strong commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ and the Catholic Church. This Catholic identity is evident when one walks through the halls of St. Thomas Aquinas School.