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.
The Planning For Xavier
The Dedication of Xavier
Rules: Then And Now
The School Motto: "Be A Man"
The Xavier Mission: Then And Now
The Xavier Seal
The School Prayer
The Xaverian Values
The Xavier Alma Mater
"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 At Mass
The Xavier Nicknames And Colors
The Xavier Chapel
Big Falcon-Little Falcon Program
The Don, The Xavier Yearbook
Xavier Publications Over The Years
The Pioneers: St. Francis Xavier
The Pioneers: Theodore James Ryken
The Pioneers: Our Xaverian Brothers
The Pioneers: Our Principals & Headmasters
The Pioneers: Our Fab 5 In Athletics
Xavier Remembers: The 9-11 Flag
Xavier Remembers: The Sandy Hook Memorial Garden
Through The Years: Xavier Dedications
Through The Years: Xavier Anniversaries
Xavier Reacts: The Coronavirus Pandemic
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.