Pacelli High School was named after the Italian Cardinal Eugenio Pacelli, the family name of Pope Pius XII. The history of the school is interesting due to the merging of two separate schools. One of the two schools was originally dedicated in 1922 as St. Joseph Academy, established for girls. At that time it was housed in a four-story wing adjacent to the St. Joseph Convent in Stevens Point and accommodated 27 students, with seven sisters serving as the faculty. When the Academy grew to over 200 students, it became obvious that a new and bigger building was needed. Groundbreaking for this new school took place across the street from the convent in March 1956. On October 21, 1957, the building was completed. Since 1954 had been proclaimed a Marian Year by Pope Pius XII, Bishop Treacy suggested that the Academy be named Maria High School. The new school could accommodate 500 students, and the total cost of Maria High School was $1,050,000. Maria was operated by the Sisters of St. Joseph, Third Order of St. Francis, until the end of the ’69-’70 school year.
The other school contributing to the “new” Pacelli was the boys’ school of the same name operated by the Christian Brothers. When ground was broken for the school in August 1955, temporary quarters for the first class of Pacelli were set up in the St. Stanislaus Grade School. Pacelli consisted of 100 boys and a faculty of three Christian Brothers. In September 1956 the new building was completed and the school formally opened.
The idea for a new, co-educational Catholic High School became evident in 1969. The Sisters of St. Joseph experienced financial difficulties and could not continue to staff the school only with Sisters, or afford the cost of hiring lay teachers (there were 2 in 1969). Affording the care their aging Sisters was an issue they faced. They could not continue to operate Maria. In 1957, Maria did not receive any parish subsidy, even though Pacelli did receive parish support. In the 13 years from 1957 to 1970, the Sisters contributed $2,702,000 of subsidies from their own funds and staff salaries. The pastors in the area agreed to subsidize only one diocesan high school.
At the same time the Christian Brothers announced that they could no longer corporately staff Pacelli High School. Pacelli was filled beyond capacity. Both Pacelli and Maria each had an enrollment of about 390 students. The new Pacelli, a combination of the old Maria and Pacelli High Schools, was the result of much hard work on the part of many people. Utilizing both the Pacelli and Maria buildings, the school opened in the fall of 1970 with over 700 students and a combined faculty of priests, brothers, sisters and lay men & women. Pacelli rented the whole Maria building for $50,000 in the 1970-1970 and 1971-1972 school years. Area parishes provided subsidies for both boys and girls schooling.
In 1972, again financial difficulties arose. The burden of financing two high school buildings became impossible. The Catholic Board of Education decided to sell the Pacelli building to the new YMCA. It was sold in the spring of 1972, with the exception of continuing to use a wood-working shop & gymnasium. The Maria High School building was bought in July 1972 from the Sisters of St. Joseph for $350,000 plus the $100,000 already paid in rental for two years. Thus, Pacelli stands at 1301 Maria Drive today.