Thursday, August 31, 2006


In September of 1959, the newly created Cardinal Spellman High School opened in temporary quarters (formerly, the Biograph Motion Picture Studios of Thomas Alva Edison: the site of the origin of the motion picture industry in America) on Marmion Avenue in the Bronx.

This new high school was planned and built to make real a dream for excellence in Catholic education, effectively preparing young men and women not only for individual personal success in college and in life, but also for roles of leadership, service, and achievement.

Its permanent location on Baychester Avenue, between Boston Post Road and East 233rd Street, covers thirteen acres (including ball fields, grandstands, running track, and parking lots) and includes the main Education Building as well as a separate adjacent building, the Convent for the Sisters of Charity of Mount Saint Vincent [The new religious community of the Sisters of Life are now in residence in the re-named Convent of Our Lady of New York.] Separate residences for the (De La Salle) Brothers of the Christian Schools, and for priest-faculty members from the archdiocese of New York were located on the fourth floor of the main building.

Francis Cardinal Spellman personally dedicated the new school facilities on May 27th, 1962, a day of considerable ceremony. Many years later, to open the Spellman 2000 fundraising campaign, the name of Needham Avenue, in front of the school, was officially changed by the Bronx Borough President [The Honorable Fernando Ferrer '67] to Cardinal Spellman Place, and our address now can also be written as: One, Cardinal Spellman Place .

Co-institutional education was the innovative model chosen for the new school by the Archdiocese, and by those first planners whose visions we now enjoy. Separate academic departments for boys (staffed by diocesan priests, De La Salle brothers and laymen) and for girls (staffed by Sisters of Charity of Mt St Vincent and laywomen) permitted classroom learning to be adapted to the differing ways young men and women learn and grow. Cafeteria, extra-curricular activities, and certain courses (e.g AP Biology) were co-ed from the beginning. Each of the two departments (Boys' and Girls') had its own principal and assistant principal, and (to coordinate) we had the Principal of the School.

(Newcomers to CSHS encounter this mystery of our history when they are puzzled to discover that restrooms for men are on what we now call the "low side" and restrooms for women are on the "high side," corresponding logically enough now, with the room numbers, but originating in the separate Depatments of our beginnings, which were on the Boys' side and the Girls' side of the building.)

In the early seventies, the co-institutional model gave way to our current co-ed system, and there were appropriate faculty and administrative changes. The most recent major change in the organization of the school occurred in September of 1999, when we adopted the structure of President (currently Msgr. James Sullivan) and Principal (currently Mr. Harold Hoffmann).

Cardinal Spellman HS is generally recognized as one of the finest Catholic high school structures in the nation. Its facilities include three floors of classrooms around a beautifully landscaped, Japanese-style, garden courtyard. In May of 1999, the courtyard was dedicated to the memory of Msgr Jeremiah Monahan, who had died suddenly in October, 1998.

In addition to the regular classrooms (each having closed-circuit television) there are many fully-equipped special-purpose rooms and learning spaces: a large Gymnasium which can be partioned into two or four smaller gyms, a Cafeteria for 700, a magnificent Auditorium with backstage space and rigging better than many Broadway theaters, a separate Little Theatre, a tiered Band Room and four separate and private music-practice rooms. See our list of plays produced by The Cardinal's Players.

Other important areas include the Student Chapel with its adjacent offices for spiritual counselling, a central Library for 20,000+ volumes, three dedicated computer labs, computer satellite locations throughout the building, Art Rooms, an Audio Visual Center, offices for The Student Government, The Pilot (our newspaper), The Vanguard (our Yearbook), the Photography Darkroom, the new Schiazza Fitness Center, a separate Phys Ed stationary-weight and training room, a large Guidance Suite (including a college-search center), and the newly-named Father Corrigan Development and Alumni Offices. Departmental offices for faculty are computerized, and have fast-access to the internet. Each year sees upgrades, improvements, expansions, and additions.

As an enthusiastically Roman Catholic school, Cardinal Spellman High School continues its dedication to Jesus' way, teaching the essential worth of each individual person as rooted in the fatherhood of God and in a personal response to Christ's love.

Thus, with discrimination so repugnant to its nature and mission, Spellman HS has not and shall not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin in any aspect of its operation, including admission policies, scholarships, athletic, or other school administered programs.