OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Holy Names High School in Oakland is rich in history and it’s celebrating its 150th year of existence throughout the school year.

At the heart of its community is a woman who has been affiliated with Holy Names for 74 years – first as a student, then a teacher, and now a volunteer.

If you’re walking through the halls of Holy Names, taking in the history that covers the walls, you might run into a piece of living history: Sister Noel Girard.

“Holy Names High School is a special place,” said Girard. “Every time you leave and you come back to this school, you walk into the halls and it’s coming home,” she said.

Sister Girard says the mission of Holy Names is to educate the whole person academically, spiritually, and personally. She says doing that has gotten harder over the years, especially with the development of technology. So she has stuck to what has worked best for her all of these years.

“Humor is a great thing, and I think you can get to a lot of people through humor,” she said. “I think mine gets a little rough sometimes and they don’t understand what it is, but that’s alright. They learn.”

Originally established in 1868 on the shores of Lake Merritt, the school was first called Convent of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart. It was one of the first high schools in Oakland. Holy Names opened its doors on Harbord Drive in the fall of 1931.

Sister Girard assures us that once you’re a part of this community, you immediately become a piece of its history.

“It’s the people, it’s the sisters, it’s the faculty, it’s the students,” she said. “It’s just being part of a wonderful, wonderful place.”


Jackie Ward sets the scene as we wind down out back-to-school coverage with our final stop at Holy Names High School. 


Jackie Ward speaks with a living piece of history at HNHS: Sister Noel Girard. 


Jackie Ward speaks with the STEM director at HNHS and the students show off a live demo of the robots. 


Mary Lee forcasts the weather live from the HNHS roof and speaks with students who are interested in meteorology. 


Mary Lee talks with students about their dreams and aspirations. 


Mary and Jackie wrap up the show and the students send us off with the school song.