Excerpt from the 1966 Yearbook:
To build means to take raw materials and to create something where nothing existed before. To build means to take an empty shell, an assortment of people, an ideal, and through courage, determination, and spirit, form a school. On a rainy day in September of 1962, 250 freshmen climbed the steps of St. Stephen Grammar School in Monroe and met their faculty for the first time. When these two forces joined, the dream of St. Joseph High School became a reality.
They had no building of their own that first year, but then, no structure could have housed their spirit. Brick and mortar could wait - the real school took shape in the hands of the students and teachers. Together they experimented and established traditions. The attendance at all athletic functions and the choosing of the team name, "Cadets", a "Harvest Festival", and the newly-initiated Student Council's production, "Pageant of America," and a mission medical drive promised to all area residents that St. Joseph High School would not remain unheard of for long.
By September 1963, when SJ's student body had outgrown its home, a new high school awaited them on Huntington Turnpike in Trumbull. Down its corridors, new doors would open each year as a growing curriculum kept pace with student needs.
September 1964 began an eventful year for the first junior class. PSATs made their first appearance as St. Joes in October and the terrifying words, "College Boards" soon entered their vocabulary. In June, Juniors received the symbol of three years' labor and achievement - the school ring - a garnet set in gold.
September 1965, a year of completion and a year of beginning. A senior class completed the school and began a line of St Joes graduates. All of the events that they brought to the school - including a Christmas Dance, Student Council, and Senior Prom - comprise the story of St. Joseph High School and that of its first graduating classes having molded and shaped the spirit and personality of a school that will continue to grow as long as St. Joseph exists.
- Building work begins on the new co-institutional school, run by the Marist Brothers and the School Sisters of Notre Dame.
- The building at 2320 Huntington Turnpike opens. Brother Joseph Kelly is Principal of the boys, and Sisters Alphonsine is Principal for the girls.
- St. Joseph High School presents the first graduating class from both the girls and the boys schools.
- St. Joseph High School becomes a co-educational facility. Brother Edward Caffrey is the first Principal to serve in this capacity.
- A faculty room and senior lounge are instituted, and become the favored spots on the first floor.
- In 1976, Monsignor Richard Shea is appointed Principal of St. Joseph High School.
- St. Joe's embarks during this decade on an ambitious schedule of expansion: a new school wing housing the Guidance Office, an art room and additional teaching space is built, and the athletic complex is realized.
- With detail-oriented and gregarious, Brother David, in charge of Student Activities, St. Joseph High School hosts a successful Walk-a-thon and the message of ‘Go for Joe’ is born.
- The Advisory Board of Directors for St. Joseph High School is established.
- St. Joseph High School adopts a model of Principal/President. Richard Bishop serves as President, and Dr. Matthew Kenney as Principal.
- Five new science labs are opened in the school, providing expanded opportunities for both teaching and learning in Chemistry, Biology, Physics and Earth Sciences.
- Kenneth Mayo is appointed as Principal.
- A new Altar is dedicated in the Alumni Chapel, and the newly renovated and expanded fields, tennis courts, and track are named the Dalling Sports Complex.
- Dr. William Fitzgerald is appointed as President.
- The school constructs the O'Keefe Academic Center, adding 19,000 square feet of instructional and collaborative space for the community.
- St. Joseph High School celebrates 50 years of continued excellence in Catholic education, with over 800 students enrolled, a wait list for all four classes, and an excited eye turned to the future.
- Dr. James Keane is appointed as Principal.
- A Wetlands & Nature Boardwalk is completed in 2017.
- A state of the art Health & Wellness Center is built in 2018.
- In 2019, Mrs. Nancy DiBuono was appointed as Principal.
- Mr. David Klein is appointed President in 2020.
- Due to a global pandemic, St. Joseph High School offers virtual education for the first time in its history. The 2021 school year begins in a hybrid learning model (students take turns learning both at home via camera and in-person at school). By February 2021, the school re-opens fully for all students.
MUSIC SPARKED A MASCOT
This Charming Story, Featuring the Debut of our Beloved Cadets was Written by Marilyn G. Salerno ’66.*
Every sports season, Fairfield County newspapers are filled with the athletic achievements of the St. Joseph High School sports teams. Bold headlines listing their awards and trophies make everyone who attends or attended the school proud of their alma mater. That includes me, a member of the Class of 1966.
But when I was a freshman almost sixty years ago, the sports program began only with a freshman boys basketball team. Let me take you back to September 1962, when a group of boys and girls entered St. Stephen's Elementary School in Monroe to begin the first freshman class of St. Joseph High School. The actual high school was still under construction and the freshman class was housed for one year at St. Stephen's. Excited to be part of a new high school, students coming from the surrounding communities greeted each other, forming new friendships, and meeting new teachers. One of the first events of the school year was the formation of the basketball team by teacher, Vito Montelli. The team would create school spirit for the new student body and bring them together to attend games. The team practiced in a new gym with soft light filtering in from the high windows. Sneakers squeaked on the highly polished floor as players did layups and jump shots in preparation for their first season. All the team needed was a mascot, a name for their maroon and gold uniforms.
The school administration announced a student contest to name the basketball team. It created quite a buzz as small circles of students tossed around possible names. For me, it triggered moments of thought. I pondered for days trying to decide on a name. Being a new school, I thought St. Joes should have a name to help us stand out among the other schools who had a long history behind them. Common mascot names included animals, birds, or colors. Warriors like the Vikings, Knights, or Gladiators might work. Nothing interesting came to mind. In the end, a name presented itself in the most unusual of places. It was a case of serendipity.
During a homework break, I sat at the piano to practice my lesson for the week. One of the more difficult pieces was John Philip Sousa's march, "High School Cadets." When my fingers reached the last notes of the march, I stopped playing. The name caught my attention. The peppy tune sparked a vision of a student in a crisp uniform with gold braided trim, marching proudly across an athletic field. I paused. A cadet is a student projecting an image of integrity, honor, and strength, right? One who exhibits the high ideals of their school. It seemed an original and different name for an athletic team, maybe just right for St. Joes. I mulled the name over in my mind for a few days, and then submitted it.
The school administration held an assembly in the gym to announce the winner of the contest. When the name, “Cadets”, was announced, I gasped. The Principal called my name and invited me up to the stage to receive a trophy. Stunned, I couldn't get out of my chair. Friends pulled me up and pushed me to the stage to accept a shiny, tall trophy with a marching Cadet at the top. The basketball team played their first season with shouts of, "Go Cadets", shaking the rafters of the gym and building school pride with every basket.
Fifty-nine years later, the St. Joseph Cadets have made a lasting mark in sports. I'm still in awe seeing the name in print. When I moved out of state, I brought the Cadets trophy back to the high school. It was placed in a display case along with many other trophies and plaques around the school, physical evidence of the athletic success of the Cadets. Maybe you have spied the trophy with the marching cadet at the top.
Whenever I read about the Cadets in the sports pages of the newspaper, I think back to that afternoon when I practiced the Sousa march. Music has been a surprising source of creative inspiration for me, in my writing for children, as well as other aspects of life. John Philips Sousa's "High School Cadets" has a special place in the school's history and for me. Go Cadets!
* This story was edited slightly for content placement.
THE LEGEND OF THE HOG
While we may be the Cadets, our Ever-Triumphant Football Team is Referred to as the Hogs. Want to Know why?*
In our gymnasium, on our fields, stitched onto uniforms - the SJ Cadets
are emblazoned in our history and tradition. But...for the past 31 seasons, St. Joseph High School’s football team has been known by another moniker: the Hogs.
How did they become the Hogs? It all started on a frigid, fall morning, October 25, 1980, to be exact. St. Joes (ranked #4 in the State Football polls at the time) was hosting a strong Stratford High School team and looking at a showdown with #3 Fairfield Prep the following week.
Heavy winds and rain were in the forecast. The field would be a muddy mess, nearly unplayable – it had very little grass to begin with. Coach Ed McCarthy came into the locker room to discuss the possibility of postponing the game, as well as the effects a short week of practice sandwiched between games with two of our biggest and toughest rivals would have on the team. As he started to talk, he was abruptly interrupted with a loud protest from the back of the locker room, “We are Hogs, and we love to play in the mud!”
The contagious energy from the team was enough to move forward with the game that morning, in practically a monsoon, no less. St. Joes won 20-0! Following the game, a new battle cry was heard for the remainder of the season, “We are the Hogs, and the Hogs are great!”
With their incredible running game, complimented by creative passing attacks and a tenacious defense, this 1980 team went on to win the school’s first Football State Championship ever! Genuine St. Joes football fans knew that a good luck charm had officially been created - and ever since then, our Hogs continue to ‘Win Every Day’.
“To be a student-athlete you need to be disciplined and dedicated to working hard every day. Coach McCarthy taught us that. My message to the team: ‘Don't ever give up’. Anyone can get beat on any given day. The experience of being part of a Championship team takes work; working together as one. This has definitely helped me personally throughout my business career. Go Hogs!” ~ Tony Gloria ’81
“It was an honor and a privilege to play football at SJ and to be part of the first state championship football team. I am thankful for the great coaches, my fellow teammates, lots of hard work, and dedication which brought us to victory in my junior and senior years. My advice to the students: enjoy every minute on and off the field. WE ARE THE HOGS … AND THE HOGS ARE GREAT!” ~ David DeDonato ’82
* This story has been edited for content placement. The full story can be read at www.stjoeshogsfootball.com