Skip to main content


The Junipero Serra School legacy began in the early 1940’s as the population of Carmel began to grow with a significant influx of military families due to World War II. The Carmel Mission pastor, Reverend Michael D. O’Connell, eager to open a school to support the needs of a growing parish, appealed to the Sisters of Notre Dame and suggested using Villa Angelica, the Sisters’ vacation home and convent, to host the school. So it was in February of 1943 that Junipero Serra School welcomed its first group of approximately 50 students. By September of that same year, Junipero Serra School had an enrollment of 78 students, taught by a faculty of five Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur.

Meanwhile, construction on the first four classrooms at the mission had begun. Within two years, through the dedicated work of Harry Downie, designer and master builder, the first four classrooms along the west side of the mission were completed. In 1945 when the Sisters of Notre Dame transferred the classes from the Villa to the newly constructed classrooms at the mission, the students found their classrooms designated by animal pictures over the doors instead of numerals. These animal pictures remain to this day as an important reminder of the unique history of Junipero Serra School and its connection to the founders and builders of this extraordinary school.

“Always forward, never back”

~ Junipero Serra

In keeping with those words of our Mission’s founder, Father Junipero Serra, Junipero Serra School lays the foundation for a life-long love of learning and of oneself, thereby instilling in our students the confidence to face challenges and succeed in an ever-changing world.

Rooted in the teachings of the gospel, it is with respect, love and kindness that the teachers and staff of Junipero Serra School strive to discover, develop and celebrate the talents of each and every student. Beginning in pre-Kindergarten and through eighth grade, Junipero Serra School inspires academic excellence and positive character development in a safe and nurturing environment where each student and family are valued members of our academic community of faith.