Bishop Garrigan High School

About Our School

Bishop Garrigan is a Catholic junior and senior high school in Algona, a small town in a rural area of northern Iowa. It serves more than 200 students in grades 7, 8 , 9, 10, 11, and 12, and enrollment has been relatively stable for the past twenty years. The school is named after the first bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City, which is the region where the school is located.  (Who was Bishop Garrigan?)

The school first opened in the fall of 1959, as a regional high school that would serve students in the rural areas of Kossuth County and surrounding areas. The original plan for the school was to serve students from five parishes:

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In the late 1980s St. John's High School in Bancroft, Iowa closed. Since then, BGHS has served a number of students from St. John the Baptist parish.

In recent years, BGHS has also welcomed a number of students from outside its corporation parishes, as well as several non-Catholic students. In recent years the student body has included students from as far away as Emmetsburg, Humboldt, Britt, West Bend, Swea City, Thompson, and Graettinger, and students who were members of many Protestant churches and of the Hindu and Buddhist faiths - as well as Roman Catholics.  Click here for more information on the history of our school.

Like the communities they come from, Garrigan's students are primarily white and middle class.  There is always some diversity among the student body, though.  Americans of Hispanic, Asian, and African descent make up 2 - 3% of all students, and each year the school welcomes exchange students from around the world.

Garrigan's faculty is well trained and professional, and teacher/student relations are mostly good.  All of the school's teachers are certified in the areas they teach, and many have master's degrees.  Several staff members have also taught at the college level, and college credit is available for some of the high school courses taught on-site at Garrigan.  Almost every teacher also works with extra-curricular activities.

The Bishop Garrigan School System also includes Seton Grade School, which is one of the largest elementary school in the Sioux City Diocese with around 275 students from pre-kindergarten through sixth grade.  There are frequent joint meetings with the grade school and high school staff, so curriculum is well integrated throughout the system.

Bishop Garrigan has traditionally been among the least expensive private schools in the country. Today high school tuition is around $2.400 per year, and there are numerous tuition assistance programs available for families who find it difficult to pay that amount. The bulk of the cost of education at Garrigan is paid by the member parishes, through the contributions of their parishioners. The BGHS Development Office also raises funds that help to keep the cost of tuition as low as possible. No one is ever turned away from Garrigan or Seton for inability to pay.

The Bishop Garrigan Schools are fully accredited by the State of Iowa Department of Education, as well as by the Catholic Diocese of Sioux City.  Garrigan and Seton students score above state and national averages on the Iowa Assessments.  Garrigan students also score well on the college entrance exams such as the ACT, and virtually all the school's students take these tests.  

More than 90% of BGHS students continue to further education, and the majority eventually graduate from four-year colleges.   Most of the school's graduates choose colleges in Iowa or its neighboring states.  Some, though, have chosen selective schools in all regions of the country, including the Naval and Air Force Academies.  Each year BGHS students receive hundreds of thousands of dollars in college scholarships, including many awards that are available exclusively to Garrigan graduates. 

BGHS competes in almost every activity available to Iowa students. A full range of Golden Bear sports programs is available to both boys and girls, and in general all students who go out for sports are given an opportunity to play. The school competes in Class A or 1-A, depending on the sport. In recent years the Bears have made it to the state tournament in football, baseball, cross-country, basketball, track, golf, and trapshooting.   Many Golden Bears have won scholarships to play sports in college, including at Division I universities.  Some graduates have even played sports professionally..

The Golden Bears also excel at non-athletic activities. Garrigan has an extremely successful quiz bowl program, which has made numerous trips to national tournaments.  The school's dance team has repeatedly won national and state championships.  Members of the health occupations team have also repeatedly qualified for nationals, and the Golden Bear math team has qualified for the Midwest regional competition.  Garrigan students consistently are nominated for the All-State Music and Speech Festivals, BGHS students serve as state officers in business and agriculture organizations, and the school has won statewide honors in show choir and musical theatre.  There are also extra-curricular programs in vocal and instrumental music, math competition, drama, art, broadcasting, publications, composition, foreign language, business, social studies, science. student government, and religious service.  Garrigan graduates have competed at the college level in virtually every activity, and the school's alumni include professional musicians (including the lead singer for the nationally-known a cappella group Tonic Sol Fa), writers, artists, actors, broadcasters, scientists, and business leaders who use the skills the gained in their high school classes and activities.

We encourage you to explore our website to learn more about Bishop Garrigan High School and our partner elementary school, Seton Grade School.  If you have questions or want more information, you may e-mail us at

Bishop Garrigan celebrated our 50th anniversary in 2008 - 2009, and we begin our diamond anniversary in the fall of 2018.  We are proud of our past accomplishments, and we look forward to many more years of excellence in the future.