The need of a secondary school to continue the Catholic education of students graduating from the elementary school and neighboring parishes became evident to Reverend Ildephonse Moser, O.F.M.. In August 1921, Saint Elizabeth High School was opened.
The first student body consisted of a freshman class of twenty-four members who were temporarily educated in the rear of the old church building. The Dominican Sisters of Mission San Jose, California, staffed the school. Sister M. Bernardina was named the first principal, assisted by Sister M. Alacoque Densmore and Sister M. Emily Spada. With the opening of the fall term in 1923, all of the high school classes were conducted in the St. Joseph Sodality Gymnasium - a large frame structure located on 34 th Avenue just opposite the main entrance to the present high school. Science courses were added to the academic curriculum that year, and in June of 1924, Saint Elizabeth's commercial department graduated its first class.
By August of 1924, the new elementary-high school building was near completion and classes on the secondary level were assigned to the upper floor (11 classrooms accommodated the academic and the commercial program). The lower floor housed the elementary school. The high school faculty consisted of four Dominican Sisters and three lay teachers, who conducted regular classes in English, history, mathematics, foreign languages, business education, sewing, art and physical education. Religion classes continued to be taught by the assistant pastors. Graduation ceremonies at the close of that school year were conducted in the new Saint Elizabeth parish church, at which seven students - six girls and one boy - received the first academic diplomas conferred by the school.
In the fall of 1925, the enrollment of Saint Elizabeth High School reached ninety-five, and soon after the opening of a new term, the school was recognized by the University of California and listed as an accredited secondary school in the state of California.
Sister Stanislaus Daze, O.P. was appointed principal in 1943 and worked toward creating a stronger curriculum and teaching staff.
A steady increase in numbers brought the enrollment to 342 in 1945. That year, Father Victor Bucher, O.F.M., established his parish schools as tuition free. This policy added impetus to staff the school with as many religious as possible. Father Victor assigned a larger number of associate pastors to the high school. In September of 1945, Father Damien Lyons, O.F.M., was appointed principal.
The new elementary school on the opposite side of 34th Avenue was ready for occupancy in September of 1959. In 1960, under the direction of the principal, Father Emery Tang, O.F.M., the present building was completely renovated and the office refurbished.
A new convent building was constructed in 1967 and the Student Park was created. During this time, there was a growth of student population to 890 students.
The building was again renovated to divide a number of classrooms into two rooms to provide for the additional students. The enrollment dropped to 356 students in the early 1970's and in 1973, Sister Mary Brennan, O.P., was chosen as principal. During her tenure, renovations to the physical plant were made including the development of computer facilities and the Arches. In 1982, the Marist Brothers assigned two members of their congregation to Saint Elizabeth High School. Their purpose was to establish an inner city ministry on the West Coast. During the spring of 1982, the Franciscans transferred ownership of the Saint Elizabeth High School property to the Diocese of Oakland.
Saint Elizabeth High School was selected by the Exemplary School Recognition Project as one of the top 61 private secondary schools in the nation in 1984. During the mid-1980's, the school formed a Board, Development Council and a Parent Club.
In order to better meet the needs of the student body, the school launched a capital campaign in the spring of 1991. The goals of the campaign were to upgrade the facility for physical education and science, to insure accessibility for the physically challenged and seismic safety. The campaign was also committed to the augmentation of an endowment fund for scholarship support.
During the 1998-1999 school year, the goals of the capital campaign were realized. In addition to completing the original projects, the student lunch area (Arches), the gym, the library, classroom floors and second floor classroom ceilings were also renovated. A new fire alarm, heating, public address and clock systems were also installed.
In March of 2001, Saint Elizabeth High School was re-accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. In 2002, the school received a significant facelift when a grant was received to paint the exterior of the building. The interior wiring was also upgraded during the summer of 2002 with monies received from foundation grants.
In 2003, St. Elizabeth High School received a grant from an anonymous foundation to work with Catholic School Management, Inc., of Madison, Connecticut, to implement a new governance structure (Board of Trustees) and to undergo a strategic planning process.
St. Elizabeth High School continues to provide quality Catholic education to a diverse student population of young men and women from Oakland and the surrounding communities who strive to "achieve academic success and secure the skills necessary for life."