School History

Presentation High School opened its doors to its first class of young women in 1962. Since then, our Pres girls have carried the torch of the Sisters of the Presentation and its foundress, Nano Nagle.

The history of Presentation High School dates to the 1700’s when a courageous woman of vision named Honora Nagle responded to the pressing needs of her day of identifying with those deprived of education. Nano Nagle founded the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary to help strike at the roots of ignorance and other social ills which created barriers to the humanization and evangelization of the people of her times. When she began her work in Ireland, educating Catholic children was illegal, but that did not deter Nano from starting small schools committed to academics and faith. Today, her spirit and charism are continued in the ministry of education of the Sisters of the Presentation who established schools in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and San
Jose and have been a vital force in education for 150 years in California.

Ground was broken for the building on the nine and one half acre site on February 12, 1962. With signs of construction still evident, the pioneer class of seventy-three ninth grade young women entered the building on October 1, 1962. All the years of planning and the months of building came to a climax on March 24, 1963 when PHS, San Jose, was officially dedicated by His Excellency, Archbishop Joseph T. McGucken. The Blessed Virgin Mary, under the title of Our Lady of the Presentation, is the school patron. Under our Lady’s constant care, PHS has “grown in grace and wisdom before God and people.” The first class to graduate from PHS was the class of 1966.

The programs we offer are varied and are constantly reevaluated so as to better meet the needs of today’s young women. In addition to our fine academic offerings and quality instruction, Presentation excels in athletics, performing arts and technology. We concentrate on preparation for college. 100% of Presentation graduates attend college, and our alumnae have become productive members of their civic and faith communities.

In addition to our primary concern of academic education, PHS has always kept alive the spirit of justice of Nano Nagle by actively promoting a commitment to and a consciousness of social concerns. While the Catholic Social Teachings are the foundation of all our work at the school, our dedication to social justice is most clearly evidenced in our Community Involvement Program. 85% of our students give their free time and of their talents and energies to people in need in the wider San Jose community. PHS has become known for its commitment to community service.

Sisters of the Presentation

Nano Nagle

In the 1700's, Nano Nagle risked imprisonment and disgrace by fighting the oppression of Catholic children in Ireland.

The daughter of wealthy parents, Nagle secretly rented rooms in the city of Cork to educate Catholic children, which at the time was illegal. Soon, she ran seven schools--five for girls and two for boys.

At night, she traveled the narrow streets using a lantern to light her way. As a result, she became known as the "Lady of the Lantern."

Religious Order

In 1775, Nagle joined several other women in founding a new society, the Sisters of Charitable Instruction of the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Dedicated to the service of the poor, the community was elevated to a religious order by Pope Pius VI in 1800 and renamed the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Bay Area Ministry

In 1854, five Sisters of the Presentation sailed into the bay of San Francisco on the aptly named steamer, Golden Gate.

That year, the sisters established a foundation in San Francisco and opened their first school on Green Street.

The sisters would go on to establish several high schools for young women in the Bay Area, including:
  • Presentation High School, San Francisco
  • Presentation High School, Berkeley
  • Presentation High School, San Jose

To learn more about the Sisters of the Presentation, San Francisco, click here.