The Xavier Yearbook: Why The Don?

The name of the Xavier yearbook comes from St. Francis Xavier, patron saint of the school and of the Xaverian Brothers who staff it. Son of a Basque family of minor nobility and born in the Castle of Xavier at Navarra, Spain, Xavier was a Don, Spanish for “Lord” or “Sir,” and the prefix to every Christian name in Spanish nobility.

The first edition of the Kestrel, the school newspaper, said Don also was chosen because “it implies education. It is used to denote a head tutor or fellow at Oxford."

 The first yearbook, in 1967, wrote the editors, "is not really a yearbook at all, for it focuses attention on all four years since the school was built and even before that. Coverage starts with Groundbreaking Day and extends through the June and July 1967 European tour of Brother Philip and his students."

The final page had the alma mater (words by Brother Robert, C.F.X., the first principal of the school, and music by Earl Ostergren):

Alma Mater, we your sons, pledge our loyalty

For your fond concern for us, thankful we shall be.

Values of what’s good and true, beautiful and right,

These you taught us faithfully. Therein is your might.

Xavier, Alma Mater,

The explanation of why the Xavier High School yearbook is known as the Don.

In memory we can hear your challenge ringing –

Always be a man

Always be a man

The co-editors of the first yearbook were William Witkowski and Donald Holder.

Some other highlights:

  1. A tribute page to Brother Robert, Xavier's first principal when the doors opened in 1963. He remained through the first graduating class and was called a "scholar, teacher, counselor and friend."
  2. Remembrances of Brother Celestine, who died in 1964 at age 25 in a car accident; and Brother Angelo, who died at age 76 in 1966.
  3. A photo of former UConn men's basketball coach Fred Shabel, who spoke at the 1966 awards banquet.
  4. A photo of Xavier and Mercy students in the library in 1963 (Mercy had yet to open, and the girls were in school here. The boys were on the first floor and the girls on the second floor).
  5. A photo of a sock hop, a popular term for a dance back then.
  6. A photo of concert pianist Edith Stearns playing for a spring 1965 audience. She died at age 99 in 2016 and her obituary noted that "she was first prize winner at age 16 of the Chickering Piano contest in New York where 2nd place was awarded to Leonard Bernstein. She gave extensive solo and orchestral performances throughout Europe, the United States and Canada. Ms. Stearns was also a soloist several times for the Boston Pops under conductor Arthur Fiedler."
  7. A two-page spread on the "Kestrel," the school newspaper that printed six times in the 1966-67 school year. It had replaced X-Citing News, which had been created by Bro. Celestine. A page on the literary magazine called "Chronos," and Sack-K, "a friendly, unpretentious mimeographed journal" from the Student Activity Committee.
  8. The headline "Two Points Rob Birds Of Unbeaten Grid Year." The 1966 Xavier football team finished 5-2-1, just two points away from an unbeaten season. The Falcons' two losses each were by one point.
  9. A photo/story spread noting that the soccer team "cops CIAC Tourney berth." And that is notable because "the first team invited to a statewide tournament was the 1966 soccer squad coached by Mr. [Pete] Sipples ."
  10. A display on Xavier students going to Expo '67 in Montreal and also visiting Ottawa, a "two-bus, four-day, 1,600-mile " jaunt.
  11. The first graduation , with a class of 184 seniors; the valedictorian was Joseph Conroy.

Most of the photos were taken by students or Br. Jeremiah, who seemingly always had a camera in hand. As that first yearbook notes, “The school darkroom was kept busy churning out enlargements.”

Yes, the digital world had not yet arrived.

Now, Bro. John Sullivan can be seen at various Xavier events, snapping away. He doesn’t have to worry about buying film, processing film. No darkroom needed.

Yes, the digital world makes things easier.

Until, of course, something does not work.

"The first team invited to a statewide tournament was the 1966 soccer squad coached by Mr. [Pete] Sipples."