In 1782 Father Junipero Serra established a mission in the area now known as Ventura, naming the mission San Buenaventura, after the Franciscan priest and scholar Bonaventure. Over the next 100 years, people began to move to and live in the area around the mission, and in 1887 the city of San Buenaventura was formed.
In 1963 St. Bonaventure High School was established in the city of San Buenaventura, more popularly known now as the city of Ventura. The school was named in honor of St. Bonaventure, the patron of the city, whose work as a philosopher and theologian during the Middle Ages earned him the title of Seraphic Doctor; hence the school mascot of Seraph, the highest order of angels.
St. Bonaventure’s first student body consisted of 70 freshmen that started classes in partially completed buildings in September of 1963. The teaching staff, headed by Sister Mary St. Lawrence, was composed of five Sisters of Notre Dame, with lay men and women to supplement the faculty as needed. In September of 1966 the Franciscan Brothers were added to the faculty and administration.
In September of 1966, St. Bonaventure became a complete four-year co-educational high school with an enrollment of 264 students. Reverend Thomas Meskill became the new Principal, serving from 1966-1976. The school’s Alma Mater, composed by Claire Miller of Santa Paula, one of the school’s original graduates, was sung for the first time in the 1966/67 school year.
Father Meskill was followed as principal by Brother Hilarion O’Connor from 1976-1979. Brother Thomas Fahey became Principal in September of 1979 and was succeeded by Brother Paulinus Horkan, Principal from 1986-2007. Under their guidance, the school grew in enrollment, curriculum, and facilities, displaying excellence in academics, athletics, and service to the community.
Mr. Marc Groff was appointed the first lay Principal in the school’s history in May 2007, continuing to guide the school’s programs and growth. The faculty and staff are composed of committed lay men and women, with a full academic, religious, and athletic program.
Currently approximately 600 students from all areas of Ventura County attend St. Bonaventure High School.