Holy Rosary Catholic School carries with it a story of rich tradition. From the founding of HRS by Reverenced John McGinty in 1885, it was known as Holy Rosary Academy and had a staff of nine Holy Cross Sisters as a branch of St. Mary’s Academy and St. Mary’s College at Notre Dame, Indiana. The school officially opened August 16, 1886, and was described in the Weekly Mail of Woodland as a “pride and ornament to Woodland.” The grounds were spacious and well maintained creating a serene environment surrounding the three-story Victorian style building on Main Street.
In no time, the Academy became known as one of the best educational landmarks of north-central California, serving primary through senior classes. The school was well known for academics, as well as outstanding music and fine arts curriculum. The school was originally opened as place where young girls could explore their vocations under the guidance of the sisters, but not long after the Academy opened, it added a co-educational day program in the elementary and junior high grades. This; however, did not alter the goal of the school- to guide those with a vocation to the religious life. In 1920, Holy Rosary Academy was awarded full accreditation by the University of California.
On October 6, 1952, Holy Rosary Academy was destroyed by fire. Students were assigned to surrounding Catholic schools in Sacramento and as far as Salt Lake City, Utah. What is known today as Holy Rosary Catholic School was opened in its current location in 1956.
The first lay principal was appointed in 1973, after the death of Sister Francis James, and in 1977 the last of the Holy Cross Sisters left Woodland. The Sisters from the Religious of the Virgin Mary were assigned to HRS to serve as teachers and principals between 1980-1986. Since their departure, faith-filled Catholic lay teachers and principals have served the HRS community.