History | Seton Catholic Preparatory

History of Seton Catholic

Founded in 1954 in Chandler, Arizona as a parish school by Father Joseph Patterson, Seton Catholic Preparatory has a rich history of providing families with an exemplary Catholic education for their children.

The school’s original purpose was to serve the youth of St. Mary’s Church in Chandler, many from migrant and farming families. Opening as a junior high school with 7th and 8th grades, and a 9th grade class of more than 20 students, the first class graduated in 1958. Through the first several decades of its existence, a majority of Seton Catholic’s staff comprised members of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill community. Seton Catholic was named in honor of its patroness, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American saint and a pioneer in parochial education.

Seton Catholic evolved from a parish school and was named a diocesan school in 1973, operating under the supervision of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix. A tragic fire destroyed the original site of the school in 1980; however, the campus was rebuilt in 1983 at its current site. In 1984, the Irish Christian Brothers ushered in the new era for the school as it began operations at the site located on Dobson and Ray Roads. The Christian Brothers remained at the school until 1995.

Seton Catholic’s academic curriculum has evolved as well, striving to match the needs of a changing society with a rigorous college preparatory curriculum. It is designed to prepare graduates to continue their education at the undergraduate, post-graduate and professional levels. Ninety-nine percent of Seton graduates go on to post-secondary education. The average SAT and ACT test scores for graduates consistently exceed the average scores of college-bound Arizona students, and graduation requirements meet or exceed college entrance criteria. Seton Catholic is accredited by the North Central Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools, as well as the Western Catholic Education Association.

Student Diversity and Opportunity

Today, Seton Catholic serves a diverse student body of more than 550 young men and women from more than 50 parochial, private, charter, public and home schools, primarily in the communities of Chandler, Mesa, Tempe, Scottsdale, Ahwatukee and Gilbert. Seton Catholic also draws students from Casa Grande and the Gila River Indian reservation. These communities have seen explosive growth in the last decade with populations in Chandler and Gilbert increasing by 95 percent and 275 percent, respectively.

In addition to excelling academics, Seton Catholic provides students with an array of outstanding extracurricular opportunities, from robotics and fine arts to campus ministry and athletics. One such example, Seton’s athletic teams have distinguished themselves in many sports, earning state championship titles and various Arizona Interscholastic Association awards for the most outstanding extra-curricular program and scholar athletes. Our coaches, teams and student-athletes are regularly honored with coach of the year and outstanding sportsmanship awards.

Building for Excellence

Seton Catholic’s current capacity is far exceeded by the growing demand for admissions. As the only Catholic high school in the Southeast Valley of metropolitan Phoenix, Seton has added facilities and more than doubled its enrollment since 1990. With a waiting list of students seeking admission, about 20 percent of all applicants are turned away each year. In 2002, 13 additional acres of land were purchased adjacent to the school property, and the school developed a master plan to address the need for expansion and direct its future growth.

The first building of the new campus, the St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Chapel, was dedicated on March 11, 2008. In August 2011, the new Fine Arts and Academic Classrooms Building opened to students, a testament to Seton’s growth and support of the fine arts as part of a well-rounded Catholic secondary education experience.

Seton’s state-of-the-art Fine Arts and Academic Classrooms Building houses a 400-seat theatre, 14 multi-purpose classrooms, a music computer lab, art rooms for painting and ceramics equipped with pottery wheels and kilns, a film production studio and a fully-equipped dance studio.

Seton Catholic’s master plan calls for the next building to be a 70,000 square-foot facility to house academic classrooms, a dining room and library.

To support Seton’s robust Athletics Program, a number of enhancements to Sentinels Stadium are planned. These include a resurfaced track, allowing Seton the opportunity to host track meets and other community events by the 2015-’16 school year.  

With campus improvements and new buildings comes Seton Catholic’s commitment to innovative programs for the 21st Century student.

A new Engineering Program will deliver a math and science-based engineering and technology curriculum to Seton students by 2015-’16. The Engineering Program calls for flexible, cutting-edge curricula, hands-on design and high-impact classroom technology, culminating in an industry internship.  

A Diamond Anniversary

In 2014, Seton is proud to share its 60th anniversary with its birthplace and the community it calls home, the City of Chandler which officially became a city in 1954.

The school pays tribute to its heritage of providing opportunity and nurturing the individual student just as our founder, Father Patterson did for the Chandler youth 60 years ago.

Seton’s ongoing commitment, to develop leaders in the tradition of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton, drives its vision: To complete a 21st Century campus and manage growth to 800 students—providing the opportunity for more generations of Seton students to expect greatness.  

Athletics Fine Arts