Celebrating Over 50 Years
The greater Bowie area used to contain hundreds of acres of gently rolling rural farmland, horse stables, and tobacco farms. At one time, Old Bowie (Huntingtown) was a bustling small town built on a railroad line.
In 1957, William Levitt and the Levitt and Sons Development Corporation purchased the Woodward Estate and surrounding acreage to construct tract housing. The first residents arrived in 1962. Levitt sold approximately 10 acres of land to the Archdiocese of Washington. This property was earmarked for a new Catholic parish and parish school with the understanding that the elementary school would open in September 1962.
St. Pius X Parish was dedicated on August 18, 1962 (the feast day of St. Pius X), and the school was originally a parish school. St. Pius X (while serving as Pope) was instrumental in starting daily communion and CCD programs (parish based religious instruction to students attending public school). St. Pius X Parish joined Sacred Heart Parish (“the parish with colonial roots”), and Ascension Parish in Old Bowie to serve local Catholics. St. Edward the Confessor Parish in South Bowie was established in 1972.
Father Charles W. Nelson was appointed the founding Pastor of St. Pius Parish (Nelson Hall is named after him). Fr. Nelson was charged by Archbishop O’Boyle to equip the new church/hall, school, rectory, and convent. In 1962, the church hall and eight (8) classrooms were built at a cost of $450,000. The space now used as the permanent church was originally a room that could be used as a church and then converted easily to another temporary use (dance hall, meeting room, bingo hall, etc).
The Archdiocesan Office of Education held school registration in the Levitt model home center on Sussex Lane to prepare for the September 1962 school opening. Soon, some St. Pius School students were bussed daily from Bowie to the Holy Name School in Washington, D.C. The St. Pius School facility initially did not have the space to meet the huge demand. The Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Aberdeen, South Dakota (Motto: “In Joyful Service”) staffed St. Pius X School from 1962-1965.
In 1963, the St. Pius Financial Advisory Committee developed the Acceptable Sacrifice Program to help the parish pay off its debt and allow for further expansion.
In 1965, the Presentation Sisters withdrew from the school and were replaced by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. The Sisters of St. Joseph served St. Pius X School for thirty-four (34) years; the last teaching Sister left in 1999.
The campus expanded rapidly in 1965 as the school added five new classrooms and a new convent to the growing school building. That same year, two new homes were purchased on Moreland Place for a Priest’s residence and an office rectory. Four additional classrooms were built in 1968. Catholic education continued to flourish at St. Pius X School.
Originally, what is now the church served as both a church and multipurpose room. Nelson Hall was built in 1978 to serve as a permanent “multipurpose room” for both the parish and school. Cardinal Baum dedicated the reconstructed permanent church in September 1979.
In September 1987, school pupils celebrated the 25th anniversary of the St. Pius Parish and School. Students launched 700 red, white, and blue balloons from the front parking lot. St. Pius parishioners, students, and school parents enjoyed an anniversary picnic on parish/school grounds.
Originally a parish school, St. Pius X School was designated a “regional school” in 1990. The four Bowie parishes (Sacred Heart, Ascension, St. Pius X and St. Edward’s) came together to combine efforts and resources to support our local Bowie Catholic elementary school.
A full service science lab was built onto the back of the facility. James Cardinal Hickey, Superintendent of School Lawrence Callahan, then-Principal Shirley Cressey, Msgr. John Hogan, and Father Paul Hill dedicated the middle school wing in 1996. The middle school wing contains additional classrooms, a computer lab, a small office, bathrooms, and a utility room.
In addition to the brick and mortar physical additions, the curriculum and extracurricular offerings expanded over the years as times changed. Computer, science lab, and Spanish language classes were expanded, and new student interest groups formed (chess club, Lego club, art club, etc.). Library hours were expanded and two computer labs were built.
Two kindergarten classes opened off site; one is located in Old Bowie at Ascension Parish, and the second is located “on the hill” next to the historic Sacred Heart Chapel. A pre-kindergarten class opened at the main campus during the 2009-2010 school year.
Over the years, our school has welcomed and educated thousands of young children who have contributed their time, talents, and efforts to serve others. Each class selects and completes a year-long service project to help the local community. Students attend religion class each day; students attend class masses and all-school masses regularly.
On August 27, 2012, Principal Robert S. Love welcomed students back on the first day of school during our 50th anniversary year. A mass to celebrate the opening of the 50th anniversary school year was held on September 14, 2012. Archdiocese of Washington Superintendent of Schools Deacon Bert L’Homme, Regional School Pastors, Associate Priests, students, administrators, teachers, staff, and school parents attended the mass. St. Pius School continues to thrive today due to the hard work of those who came before us. Our diverse and close-knit community is excited about the future of our thriving school.