Located in the beautiful Skagit Valley, Immaculate Conception School was created in 1945-1946. George Michael Dynes, William Hofstee, and Oscar R. LeCompte, members of the Skagit Board for the Catholic Children’s Service Bureau, together with the assistant pastor, Father William Grier, put together a plan for a Catholic School. With the arrival of Father Joseph Brennan as Pastor, the school was constructed as a parish school of Immaculate Conception Church.
Immaculate Conception School opened on September 13, 1949, with an enrollment of 131 pupils in Kindergarten through 8th grade. The school was solemnly blessed and dedicated by the Most Reverend Thomas A. Connolly on November 6, 1949, and opened under the direction of the Sisters of Saint Joseph of Newark, with six sisters commuting from Bellingham. The original structure contained five classrooms, an auditorium, offices, and custodial quarters. The first class of four students graduated the following year. The first lay teacher, Mrs. Jean Jansen, arrived in 1955 and served the school as sixth grade teacher and librarian for the next thirty years. When Father Patrick O’Brien became Pastor in February 1960, a fundraising drive was initiated to improve the church plant, pay off the school debt, and build a convent.
Being the only Catholic School in Skagit Valley, a busing system was developed to accommodate students in outlying areas. In the mid-1980’s, the ICRS School Commission formed a partnership with Mount Vernon Christian School to create a shared busing system, which is still going strong.
Historically, Immaculate Conception School operated as a parish school, yet parents’ perception was more of a regional school, as enrollment was comprised of students from many parishes. To broaden the financial base of the school, in 1996 the Skagit Valley parishes took on a greater authority and responsibility for the school through a governance agreement which established the school as a separate financial entity. Immaculate Conception in Mount Vernon, St. Charles in Burlington, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Sedro-Woolley, Sacred Heart in La Conner and St. Paul’s on the Swinomish reservation, signed this agreement. Additionally, the outlying parishes of St. Cecilia, Stanwood, and more recently Immaculate Conception, Arlington, and St. Mary’s, Marysville, pay subsidy for their parish children. To reflect this reorganization, the school’s name was changed to Immaculate Conception Regional School.
In 1987, the Immaculate Conception School Endowment Fund was established to enhance the long-term viability of Immaculate Conception School. The Endowment Board continues to oversee the investment of funds in order to provide the greatest possible return, while at the same time giving consideration to the safety of investment principal. In 2003, funds were partially invested through Christian Brothers and the Fulcrum Foundation. Further funds were moved to Fulcrum in 2005.
In the 1990’s a portable and a two-room building (referred to as the “White Building”) provided additional classrooms on the campus. In the summer of 1998, a ground-breaking ceremony was held for the St. Joseph Center. Since the center was named after the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, the community honored the Sisters of St. Joseph at the completion of the building and the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the school. This marvelous multi-purpose facility added three classrooms, a first-class area for the PE and music programs, as well as the opportunity to develop an athletic program. The building is also used for activities of Immaculate Conception Parish, for activities of the Regional Ministry, and is open for use by the greater Skagit Valley community.
To date, fifteen women have served as principal of the school: Sister Mary Norbert Martin from 1949 to 1952; Sister Rosalie Dumont from 1952 to 1955; Sister Margaret Dove from 1955 to 1961; Sister Agnes Joseph Bates from 1961 to 1962; Sister Marguerite Morrissey from 1962 to 1965; Sister Verona Egan from 1965 to 1968; Sister Una McCourtney from 1968 to 1982; Sister Angela McCarthy from 1982 to 1994; Sister Elizabeth Linnane from 1994 to 1995; Sister Mary Shau from 1995 to 1998; Sally Merryweather from 1998 to 2001; Jean Champagne from 2001 to 2002; Kathy Cartee from 2002 to 2011; Ann Leichleiter from 2010 to 2013; and Gwen Rodrigues from 2013 to the present. Sister Elizabeth was the last sister of Saint Joseph to work at Immaculate Conception Regional School.
Over the past few years updates have been made to the main building:
- In 2003 and 2004, an electrical-technology project updated the wiring and lighting fixtures and provided capacity for networking computers, new phones, intercoms and clocks.
- The computer lab was created in the White Building, allowing more space than the main building provided.
- The library book collection was also computerized.
- New sidewalks connecting outlying buildings were added.
- In 2004, through a grant from a generous donor as well as support from the local community, one of the St. Joseph classrooms was redesigned into a science lab.
- The children’s bathrooms and the carpet in the main building were updated.
- In 2006 and 2007, the playground was redesigned, drainage improved, electrical wires put underground, old blacktop replaced and new play areas added. The main source of funds for this project was the Knights of Columbus.
- In 2009, a generous donation from one of our grandparents allowed the school to provide teachers with portable computers connected to projectors and document cameras.
- In 2015, the PTO revitalized the swing-set and added mats under the swings for better drainage.