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Timeline

1840
Alexander B. McDonell was born in the province of Ontario, Canada on April 17.

1856
Reverend Gautheir, a missionary, after making semi-annual visits to the area, constructed a church near the location of the present Notre Dame Church.

1858
A.B. McDonell (orphaned by age 14) was employed in the forests near the Ottawa River for $13 per month.

1863
A 16’ x 18’ schoolhouse was build by Reverend Smeddink in the summer. Gertrude Wienstock was the first teacher for the couple of dozen young Chippewa Falls students that constituted the first regular St. Mary’s Catholic School.

1866
A.B. McDonell moved to Minneapolis, MN. He was employed on the river and in the woods. He began to save money and accumulated several thousand dollars.

1869
Reverend Charles F.X. Goldsmith, age 24, celebrated his first Mass on May 27. He found on the present site of Notre Dame School, a little three-room farm building known as First Ward School.

1870
The Notre Dame Catholic Church began construction and was completed in 1871.

1870
A.B. McDonell moved to Chippewa Falls. He managed a lumber camp, on the south fork of the Jump River, for Edward Rutledge.

1873
A.B. McDonell became superintendent of the Mississippi River Logging Company where he remained until 1881.

1875
A.B. McDonell and Thomas Irvine of St. Paul, Minnesota purchased pine timber land and logging operations. The relationship lasted until 1894.

1879
In May, Reverend Goldsmith notified the Board of Education that he wished to purchase the public school for the purpose of conducting it as a parochial institution.

1881
In September, the School Sisters of Notre Dame, from Milwaukee, came to staff the school. Sister M. Estelle was the first principal of Notre Dame School. Student attendance was 500. The graduates ranked among the first teachers of Chippewa Falls and of the county.

1881
In October, McDonell married Mary Regina O’Neil. The Reverend Goldsmith officiated.

1882
When the school opened on September 2, twenty-eight pupils took possession of a new school room called “The High School Department.”

1884
St. Charles Borromeo School was built on “Stanley Hill.” A year later the church was built.

1885
In September, a regular high school course of study began at Notre Dame School thus forming the first high school. An addition was added at the High Street entrance to accommodate the growth and allow space for the high school.

1885
Holy Ghost School was built in “South Chippewa” and completed in 1886 at the same time the church was erected.

1887
A.B. McDonell served as Mayor of Chippewa Falls until 1888.

1889
On June 29 the first students, Elizabeth and Mary Jennings, graduated from Notre Dame High School.

1890
Reverend Charles F.X. Goldsmith died and was buried near the church and school he loved so well.

1891
Father Eugene Phelan came to Chippewa Falls and suggested to A.B. McDonell the idea of a school building.

1891
Two-year-old Robert Roy McDonell died.

1892
In March, Mary McDonell, wife of A.B. McDonell, died.

1894
The Goldsmith Chapel was built adjacent to Notre Dame Church.

1894
On December 22, after a rigid examination by University Professors, Notre Dame School was placed on the accredited list of the University of Wisconsin.

1895
1895 Notre Dame High School adds one year of educational studies to graduate (no graduating class in 1895)

1897
The Lumberman’s National Bank opened. A.B. McDonell, one of its founders, became the first president and held that post until his death.

1900
A.B. McDonell’s 14-year-old son, Donald Henry, and 16-year-old daughter, Emily Regina died on the same day. They drowned in Long Lake.

1901
The Notre Dame Alumni Association was formed in accordance with the wishes of Reverend Phelan and Sister Mary Francis Xavier that “the graduates of Notre Dame should not sever forever their connections with their Alma Mater.”

1907
The Honorable Alexander B. McDonell, who had taken a keen interest in Catholic Education, offered to build and endow a new high school in memory of his wife and children – a gift to Notre Dame Parish. The new school was to be “furnished with the best educational equipment available.”

1907
On June 2 the cornerstone of the new McDonell Memorial High School was laid.

1908
On January 5, the new McDonell Memorial High, a magnificent example of Greek architecture, was blessed by Bishop Schwebach.

1908
At the May 29, Notre Dame-McDonell High School graduation exercises, the Bishop conferred the medal of Saint Sylvester, by Pope Pius X, and the Papal Order of St. Gregory the Great to Alexander B. McDonell.

1912
First McDonell graduating class with 4 years of High School studies.

1913
On December 17, Sir Alexander B. McDonell died.

1914
The 25th Notre Dame-McDonell Memorial High school commencement was held on June 10. Reverend Ambrose Murphy of La Crosse addressed the class.

1924
A new Notre Dame School was built on “Catholic Hill” to house elementary through middle school students.

1939
Celebration of the 50th graduating class from Notre Dame-McDonell Memorial High School.

1943
Publication of the yearbook, Iris, was suspended because of World War II.

1956
McDonell Memorial High School was remodeled, containing among other features, a “splendidly equipped library of 4,000 volumes.”

1963
Due to the expanding enrollment a new high school was started on the West side.

1964
McDonell Memorial marking the last students to graduate from “Church Hill.”

1964
September 14, McDonell Central High School opened its doors to welcome the new students.

1964
The Christian Brothers take charge of McDonell Central High School.

1965
McDonell Central High School open house draws 2,900 visitors to tour the school.

1970 
The Christian Brothers withdraw from McDonell High because of the man-power shortages.

1977
McDonell High School Foundation was established for the purpose of accepting gifts directly into a fund to benefit McDonell Central High School.

1979
The McDonell Foundation Board kicked off the Century II Fund campaign.

1984
Chippewa Valley Cultural Association acquired McDonell Memorial High School building.

1985
McDonell Central High School is accredited by the North Central Association of Secondary Schools and Universities.

1985
May 4, McDonell Alumni Association begins 100-year celebration of Catholic High School education in Chippewa Falls.

1987
Changing times, enrollments and population patterns dictate that the Chippewa Falls parishes consolidate their school operations under the administrative umbrella of the Chippewa Area Catholic Schools (CACS). The new system created St. Charles Borromeo Primary School (PreK-2), Holy Ghost Elementary School (3-5), Notre Dame Middle School (6-8) and McDonell Central High School (9-12).

1991
The start of the school year brought an increase in enrollment for the first time since 1979.

1996
McDonell Central High School begins a ‘block’ schedule’ – four blocks (85 minutes each).

1996
Chippewa Area Catholic Schools peak enrollment reaches 838 students (K-12).

2000
Annual Alumni Banquet held at the old McDonell Memorial High School auditorium.

2001
During the Alumni Banquet in May a new statute of the Blessed Virgin Mary was blessed and placed over the entrance of McDonell Central High School.

2005
McDonell Central High School name official changes to McDonell Central Catholic High School.

2007
Diocesan capital campaign “We Belong to Christ” generates over $2.3 million for parish, school and diocesan needs from Chippewa Falls parishes.

2007
Notre Dame Middle School 7th and 8th grade students move into McDonell Central Catholic High School building. The 6th grade moves to Holy Ghost Elementary and 3rd grade moves to St. Charles Borromeo Primary.

2008 
Anonymous McDonell Alumus donates $1 million to aid enrollment at CACS and improve facilities at McDonell Central Catholic High School. Another $3.1 million is awarded to McDonell from deceased alumni estates.

2008
McDonell Central Catholic High School is listed on the 2007 Catholic High School Honor Roll as one of the top 50 high schools in the nation.

2008
McDonell celebrates 100 years of graduates under the McDonell name 1908 to 2008.

2009
McDonell sends four fall sports to WIAA state appearance. Boys cross-country, soccer, State Runner Up Football and State Champions Girls Volleyball.

2011
The Chippewa Area Catholic School System officially changes their name to the McDonell Area Catholic Schools (MACS) and new logo is created. Mission, vision, core values and "Education for Life" slogan are established to refocus our vision of the whole child: mind, body, spirit and community.

2011
The sixth grade moves from Holy Ghost Elementary to the Notre Dame Middle School area in the McDonell Central Catholic High School building. The third grade moves to Holy Ghost Elementary to make more room for early childhood programs at St. Charles Borromeo Primary.

2012
Early Childhood Center moves to the east wing of the St. Charles Borromeo Primary School. Kindergarten through second grades move to the west wing. Remodeling on the east wing to accommodate children as early as two years of age is finished.

2014
Chromebook 1:1 initiative started in the middle school sixth and seventh grade level.

2014
Project Lead the Way reinforcing Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) critical thinking classes are introduced in middle and high school.

2015
McDonell Central Catholic High School celebrates their 50th Anniversary. Class of 1965 attends a day with the senior class who celebrate “Golden Week” with all students.

2016
McDonell Area Catholic Schools are reaccredited as a school system with the addition of the Early Childhood Center through AdvancED.

2017
McDonell Area Catholic Schools celebrate 135 years of Catholic education in Chippewa Falls and 30 years as a unified school district.