Check our COVID-19 updates page for the most up-to-date information. Updated 5.23.22 Learn More

School History

1893: Mother Thomasina, a Dominican nun, founded Aquinas Academy for girls.

1912: St. Leo's Grammar and High School for boys was founded by the Jesuits; Fr. Riordan, S.J., Principal.

1922: Philomathea, Bellarmine's still vital Mother's Club, was founded at St. Leo's and moved to Bellarmine when the boys transferred.

1928: Bellarmine was founded as a boys' high school by Fr. David McAstocker, S.J. with enrollment of 150 students. The first major fund drive was launched to pay for school. Volunteers from Holy Names Society, Philomathea, Knights of Columbus, and St. Leo's Alumni Association were instrumental in establishing the school.

1929: First Bellarmine graduating class of 19 students received diplomas.

1930: Mrs. Tom Carstens donated the Shrine of St. Therese.

1930: Jesuit faculty residence and athletic fields created on campus.

1943: Second major fund drive conducted, raising $40,000 to retire initial indebtedness.

1945: Following World War II, poplar trees were planted near Memorial Field to commemorate former Bellarmine students who died in the war.

1945: Bellarmine Boosters Club was formed to support athletic endeavors. Efforts of Boosters have resulted in the addition of Memorial Field, Student Center, and Booster Gym.

1947: Bellarmine wins its first Tacoma City League football championship.

1949: Bellarmine wins its first Tacoma City League basketball championship.

1954: Fr. Frank Toner, S.J., raised funds for the Student Center and the addition of three classrooms on either side of the (at that time) gymnasium, now McAstocker Theater.

1957: Fr. Jack Sneeringer, S.J., was appointed to serve as finance director. Bellarmine Associates were organized to provide financial support to the school. Through their efforts, many of the buildings on campus were added or improved, and are still in use today.

1958: Booster Gym completed and dedicated.

1959: Frost and Margaret Snyder donated St. Aloysius Chapel, named for the Patron of Youth.

1963: Orton Hall was remodeled to provide housing, including a kitchen and dining room, for a growing number of Jesuits and offices for key administrators.

1969: Fr. Sneeringer and friends began BASH (Building A Scholastic Heritage), which grew into a very successful fundraiser, later co-sponsored by Charles Wright, St. Leo's, Aquinas and Annie Wright.

1970: Fr. L. Patrick Carroll, as president, embarked on the "Forward Now" campaign to raise $800,000 to construct Snyder Hall (a science building) and enlarge the library and Student Center, now renamed McDonald Hall.

1971: The Lions win their first City League football championship in 25 years. Coach Ed Fallon's team roars from behind to defeat Wilson 22-21 and usher in the modern age of Bellarmine athletics. As of the end of the 2003-2004 school year, Bellarmine has won 157 league championships, 26 West Central District championships, 23 state championships, and one 4A all sports championship.

1972: Bellarmine's first board of directors was established, signaling a new era of lay involvement.

1974: Bellarmine became the first Jesuit high school in the country to become co-ed, merging with Aquinas and St. Leo's schools on the Bellarmine campus.

1974: The Lions win their first girls athletic championship when the volleyball team goes undefeated.

1976: Fr. Daniel Weber, SJ is named Bellarmine's 11th president.

1981: Board of directors ordered a Campus Plan, which included the need for a new gymnasium, which was donated by Scott and Sis Names, the Orell Library and Technology Center and Allen Hall (for the music program). The plan also initiated a commitment to improve working conditions and salaries of faculty and staff, increased endowment and continue to upgrade the physical plant. The Heritage Fund was launched to finance these needs.

1985: Bellarmine named as "School of Excellence" by the U.S. Department of Education

1985: Newly created Orell Library was dedicated.

1986: Exemplary Teacher Award introduced to honor a single faculty member each year for his or her outstanding contribution to students and incorporating Jesuit ideals in his or her life and teaching.

1987: "Old Main" upgraded to include earthquake safety reinforcement and renovation of McAstocker Theater (the original gym).

1989: Bellarmine received a second "School of Excellence" award from the U. S. Department of Education.

1990: Upon completion of the upgrading of "Old Main" and renovation of McAstocker Theater, both were dedicated, bringing the Heritage I Campaign to a successful close.

1991: A new 10-year plan began, including proposals for additional classrooms, upgrading and creation of new athletic fields and the increase of the endowment fund.

1991: For the first time, applicants to Bellarmine exceeded capacity (925).

1992: The annual auction returned to the Bellarmine campus as P.R.I.D.E. (Private Resources In Developing Education), now an independent Bellarmine event.

1993: Heritage II, a capital campaign, implemented to raise funds for two baseball fields, two softball fields, six tennis courts, a commons area in the center of campus and increase endowment.

1993: Father General of the Society of Jesus, Fr. Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, S.J., visited and celebrated Mass with and for the students, faculty, staff, parents, and friends.

1993: Bellarmine worked with IHN, later IFSN (Interfaith Family Shelter Network) to provide dinner, breakfast and overnight accommodations in classrooms for temporarily homeless families. The tradition continues today in the Phoenix Housing project.

1996: The E. L. Wiegand Greenhouse for Scientific Study was added to the west side of campus, dedicated to the growing and research of native and endangered plant species.

1996: Bellarmine began the process of sponsorship review to ensure we remain faithful to Jesuit tradition.

1996: Bellarmine's first lay president, Jack Peterson, was installed on St. Robert Bellarmine Day.

1996: New Computer Research Center in Orell Library was opened.

1997: Enrollment grew to 980, with 215 graduates.

1998: Groundbreaking ceremony heralded beginning of construction of Father Weber Hall (completed in 1999), the new religion, community service and campus ministry building. This construction signaled the completion of the goals of the Heritage II Capital Campaign.

1999: The Names Track and Field Complex is constructed.

2001: Completion of Commons area and completion and relocation of new Allen Hall (music building).

2002: Construction began for the remodeling and addition of 18,000 sq. ft. to Snyder Hall, the science and math building.

2003: Completion of the addition to Snyder Hall.

2004: Completion of a new West Campus Entry.

2008: It's Game Time Capital Campaign begins to raise money for a new gym complex.

2010: Construction begins on a new Booster Gym and remodeled Names Gym.

2010: A state-of-the-art St. Ignatius Loyola Center and Booster Gym open in December in time for the basketball and wrestling seasons.

2011: The new 4,500 SF Fitness Center and 1,200 SF Training Room are finished in January.

2012: Bellarmine's financial aid program reaches over a third of the students, the school wins its first state volleyball championship and state-of-the-art home bleachers are built for Memorial Field.

2013: Bellarmine installs Robert O. Modarelli III B'82 as its 13th president, the volleyball team wins its second consecutive state championship and the girls cross country team also take the state title.

2016: A state-of-the-art Connelly Campus Center opens in August in time for the start of the 2016-17 school year.

2017: Bellarmine opens a Learning Resource Center in the Orell Library, implementing a more comprehensive program to support students in their academic programs. 

2018: Bellarmine installs state-of-the-art, all-weather turf on Memorial Field, and also finalizes a remodel of Names Gym.