Our History

Steeped In Tradition

A trip through the hallways at Xavier High School, a stroll through the yearbooks, time spent looking through the many files and boxes in the archives in the back of the library is an education in itself.


A school should make you thirst for knowledge, so exploring the 57-year history of this school and its many traditions whets the appetite. It leads  to answering many questions and raising others.

 

We want to learn more about the significance of St. Francis Xavier and all that is in the Xavier crest.

 

What is the history of the student newspaper? Why is the yearbook named “The Don?”

 

What were the rules like back in 1963 as compared to now? And just how did Xavier get the nickname Falcons and colors black and white?

 

Let's find out about the 25th, 40th and 50th anniversaries of the school and the various dedications as the school expanded.

 

Dust off the archives, dig deep into one’s memory. The answers to more than 20 questions lie in photos, newspaper clippings, yearbooks, files, and the memories of faculty and staff.

 

As we stroll through the building, it soon becomes clear to keep our eyes open at every turn. You never know what you’ll see in the building. A 9-11 flag. A statue of St. Joseph. A photo of Bro. Celestine. More questions arise. So more answers are needed.

 

The short history is this: Xavier opened its doors in 1963 and was founded by The Most Rev. Vincent J. Hines, the second bishop of the Diocese of Norwich, pictured above in a groundbreaking ceremony in 1961. It is a Xaverian Brothers' Sponsored School, and at the heart of its mission is this written by St. Irenaeus: "The glory of God is the human person fully alive." Xavier seeks to educate the whole person: spirit, mind and body."

 

But that is the one-paragraph description. Our stroll down memory lane is divided into multiple parts. This history project originally was published in 2019, but we know history does not stop, so we knew more would have to be written. We had no idea we would be writing about the coronavirus but just added that chapter. 

 

Below are links to the stories, each representing a piece of Xavier's fabulous history. Pick and choose, or read them all over time. Enjoy.

 

 
For a story on the planning of Xavier High School in the early 1960s, click here.
 
 
For a story on the dedication of Xavier High School, click here.
 
 
The 1963-64 handbook noted that "pants so tight a golf ball cannot pass through the leg of them from waist to floor may note be worn." Click here for a story on rules then and now.  
 
 
The school will grow you spiritually, academically and physically to really be a man in all senses of the word," former Headmaster Brian Davis says of the school motto.  For the story click here.
 
 
Times have changed, and though we are 57 years removed from the first handbook, the mission remains the same: develop spirit, mind, body. For a story on the mission over the years, click here.
 
There are seven parts to the Xavier Seal. For the seven parts and what each means, click here for the story.
 
 
 
The school prayer, said each day at the end of school, was written by Chris Danko ’11 and Francis Rowland ’11. For the story behind it, click here.
 
 
Humility ... trust ... zeal ... compassion .... simplicity ... the Xaverian values. For a story on what they represent, click here.
 
 

"Values of what’s good and true, beautiful and right, These you taught us faithfully. Therein is your might." A couple of lines from the Xavier alma mater. For a story on its origin and when it was updated, click here.

 
 
The procession of flags and banners that opens various Masses are symbolic of many things. For the story, click here..
 
 
The Xavier nickname and colors were chosen by the school's first athletic director, Artie Kohs. For a story on what's behind it, click here.
 
 
The Xavier Chapel, a place for solitude and much more.  For the story, click here.
 
 
Building bonds right from the start ... the Big Falcon-LIttle Falcon program. For a story on how it came to be and the importance, click here. 
 
 
How did the Xavier yearbook get the name "The Don?" For that story, click here.
 
 
The first Xavier publication was in 1963 and called "X-Citing News" That was the start of a long history of publications. For the story, click here.  
 
 
St. Francis Xavier was known for his missionary work. For more on the man, find the story here.
 
 
For a story on the man who founded the "Brothers of St. Francis Xavier, click here. 
 
 
At the heart of what Xavier is and has been are its Xaverian Brothers, who dedicate their life to the Christian education of youth. For their story, click here.
 
 
There have only been eight principals or headmasters in the nearly 60-year history of Xavier High School. For a story on our leaders, click here.
 
 
Our Fab 5 in athletics? It's hard to argue with these names: Kohs, McHugh, Michalski, Jaskot and Magner. For their story, click here. 
 
Sept. 11, 2001, a day that changed the world forever. For the story, click here.
 
 
The Sandy Hook Memorial Garden at Xavier was designed and planted by the peer ministers to remember the lives lost at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown on Dec. 14, 2012. For the story, click here.
 
 
Xavier has had many changes to its physical plant through the years, expanding the size of the school and the opportunities for its students. For the story, click here.
 
The 25th anniversary ... the 40th ... the 50th ... and before you know it we'll be 60! For a look at anniversary celebrations from the past, click here.
 
 
As February turned to March in the 2019-2020 school year, the world faced the coronavirus pandemic. Xavier shut down the school but not the learning.
 
The story:
 

In late February as the word coronavirus was becoming all too common it appeared that life would change as we knew it, so Xavier Principal Brendan Donohue gathered Academic Dean Kyle St. George, Director of Technology Tim Kramar, and Director of Educational Technology Kelsey Doherty to begin brainstorming how best to deliver online content to students.

 

Kramar, Doherty and the Technology Committee quickly came up with what they felt would be the best option: using PowerPoint with voice-over to deliver lessons. Teachers were trained on Friday, March 13, on what had been planned as a professional development day, though no one would have envisioned it would take this form. There was no school on Monday, March 16, but on Tuesday, March 17, teachers and students were back in class – the virtual classroom.

 

The building was shut down, the classrooms were empty. The rest of the winter sports season, such as state postseason tournaments in basketball and hockey, were canceled. Restaurants shut down indoor dining. Businesses shut down. Churches held online Masses. Just about everyone was working from home.

 

As the pandemic marched along, life did not. There was hope that students might return to school. There was hope for a spring sports season. Neither happened.

This was not ideal for anyone, least of all seniors. It soon became apparent that no school could pack hundreds into a gym for a high school graduation.

 

Academically, Xavier students and faculty persevered.

 

“I give great kudos to both our faculty and students in this time of e-learning,” Xavier Headmaster Dave Eustis said as the school was in the middle of it all. “Both groups have had to jump outside of their comfort zone and shift the paradigm from in-person learning to online learning.  It takes a complete team effort from planning to technology to curriculum development to deliver this product in a seamless manner.”

 

The COVID-19 pandemic produced much sorrow across the country in lives lost. People died in nursing homes and hospitals without loved ones physically there because they simply could not be there. The virus was too lethal.

 

Yet, among the horror stories, so many inspiring stories came to light across the nation and close to home, including here at Xavier.  An alumnus helped make personal protective equipment. Parents of Xavier students were front line health workers. Current Xavier students did their part, such as one making signs thanking essential workers, proceeds of which helped feed those in the thick of the battle. Another helped feed those in need as those numbers grew as people lost their jobs.

 

People were resilient and inventive.

 

And when it came to our Xavier seniors, the Class of 2020, faculty and staff were determined to make it a special graduation. Families stopped by Xavier, masks and all, for a drive-by pickup of graduation lawn signs.  Faculty and staff went to each graduate’s home to deliver a cap and gown.

 

The Baccalaureate Mass on Friday, May 22, and Graduation Ceremonies on Saturday, May 23, were held virtually, with the same script as if they were inside the gym. Graduation opened with video messages to the grads from faculty and staff. 

 

On Sunday, May 24, Xavier grads and their immediate families came to the school for a special Conferring of Diplomas ceremony.   Diplomas were handed out as families arrived at staggered times. Signs with each graduate’s photo lined the Xavier grounds leading up the front steps of the school, where the student received his diploma.

 

The coronavirus had altered graduation, but it could not prevent it.