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The history of Cardinal Newman High School is a rich one, reaching back to 1834 when the Ursuline Sisters arrived in Charleston, SC from their native Ireland. Through the efforts of the Right Reverend John England, South Carolina’s first Bishop, the Sisters were sent from Ursuline Convent to begin a work that endures to this day.

In 1858, Ursuline High School for Young Women opened its doors on Blanding Street, where it remained until Sherman's army burned the city of Columbia, SC during the Civil War in 1865.

The School was then moved to Valle Crucis, a country place belonging to the Right Reverend Lynch. The School remained at Valle Crucis for twenty-two years, where it maintained an average of forty students a year. In addition to their regular students, the nuns taught local African-American children during the summer.

Unable to obtain the continuing services Valle Crucis, two of the Sisters moved back to Columbia and opened St. Peter's School in 1872. The School’s first classrooms were located in a cottage on Park Street. The School, soon outgrowing its small Park Street cottage moved to the Preston Place on Hampton Street in 1887. It is here the Sisters rejoined the rest of their community from Valle Crucis. Ursuline High School was reborn.  In 1938, Ursuline High School was accredited as a Class A private institution and the first male students graduated in 1951.

In 1957 the property of Ursuline High School was transferred to the Most Reverend J. J. Russell, Bishop of Charleston, and the name was changed to Catholic High School of Columbia.

Monsignor Martin C. Murphy, Pastor of St. Peter's Church, and Monsignor A. F. Kamler were designated as the School Board of Catholic High School of Columbia. The Reverend Charles Kelley was designated Rector, and Sister Mary Bernard, O.S.U. became principal. The faculty was composed of Ursuline Nuns. Together, this new administration earned Southern Association accreditation in 1958.

In 1961 the Catholic High School of Columbia moved to its new home on 4701 Forest Drive and its name was changed to Cardinal Newman High School. The new location consisted of an eight-acre lot where they built nine classrooms, a library, chapel, cafeteria, kitchen and a number of offices and utility rooms.

In 1971 the School not only celebrated the arrival of Mr. Harold J. Bayerl as Principal, but also a new, well-equipped gymnasium containing more classrooms and a weight room. Five additional classrooms were constructed to accommodate an increased enrollment in 1974. By 1978, the School’s enrollment doubled and almost every aspect of the school was remodeled to include a new science laboratory, faculty room and library.

1978 also marked the growth of the School’s curriculum, which was now supplemented by honors courses and specialized electives. Teachers and coaches were recruited from across the country so that students would benefit from the best-qualified faculty.

In 1977, the practice football field was upgraded with the installation of seating and lights. That very year, the school hosted five home football games.

In its efforts to provide Catholic education to as many students possible, Cardinal Newman School began its operation of a Middle School (grades 7 and 8) in 1989. The building, which formerly served as the Ursuline Convent, was thoroughly renovated and welcomed over 100 students.

In January of 2016, under the leadership of Principal Jacqualine Kasprowski, Cardinal Newman moved to a state-of-the-art, 50-acre campus at 2945 Alpine Road, their current home. In 2020 Cardinal Newman increased the size of their campus to 76 acres.  Cardinal Newman welcomed Kelly Burke as the new Principal in 2022.