In the early 1960s, Bishop Donohoe, the first Bishop of the Diocese of Stockton, envisioned a Diocesan high school accessible to all Catholic families in the southern part of the Diocese. Armed with a commitment to Catholic education and to the youth of the area, he engaged the Augustinian Fathers and Holy Cross Sisters to work with dedicated parents and a supportive community to open Central Catholic High School on land donated by St. Stanislaus Parish in 1966.
The Augustinians and Holy Cross Sisters remained with the coed school until 1980, when Father Richard Morse, an Oblate of St. Francis de Sales, became the fourth principal. He was followed by the first lay principal, Dr. Les Clements. Mr. Jim Pecchenino, class of '72, became principal in 1987 and the transition to the President-Principal model, with Mr. Pecchenino as President, was made in 1992. In 2020, Mr. Pecchenino stepped down as President of the school and took on the role of President of the Central Catholic High School Foundation. The school went back to the Principal model with Mr. Bruce Sawyer as the head of Central Catholic High School.
Throughout its 50 year history, Central Catholic High School has served students from throughout the southern part of the Diocese. Students are attracted to CCHS by its rigorous college-prep program, its wide variety of co-curricular activities, its strong religious base and the caring family atmosphere. The CCHS Alumni Association plays an important role in the school; in fact, 13% of the student body are children of alumni.
The school has remained fervently Catholic throughout its history, with annual retreats for all students and staff, prayer before every class and activity and weekly Mass. Four years of Theology and 100 hours of Christian Service are required for graduation.
In the recent past, the original campus has been augmented with the Hogan Center (a wrestling facility), the Alumni Quad and the Mark Gallo Health and Fitness Center (providing a new gym floor, lobby, locker rooms, nutrition lab – kitchen, classrooms for FFA and Health Education and the John C. Bosio Training Center. In addition, we recently added six new Tennis courts (Van Nes Tennis Courts) and The Melissa Bengston Besseling Garden in memory of our past principal. Today we are embarking on the second phase, the Vintage Sports Complex, including the Ladd Softball Field, four Sand Volleyball Courts, and practice fields.
Today, the Bishop's vision lives on in the students and staff of the school. Recognized for academic excellence by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and the Western Catholic Education Association, Central Catholic High School offers a tradition of excellence rooted in our core values of Faith, Academic Rigor, Family, Community and Integrity - to students from Stanislaus and several outlying counties.