St. Joseph High School (Metuchen, New Jersey)

St. Joseph High School, also known as St. Joe's, is an independent, all-boys Roman Catholic college preparatory school located on a 70-acre (280,000 m2) site in Metuchen and Edison, in Middlesex County, New Jersey, United States. It draws students from an area encompassing over forty school districts and over seventy grammar schools in Middlesex, Somerset, and Union counties, as well as other outlying areas. It is located in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Metuchen. The school has been accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Elementary and Secondary Schools since 1968.

St. Joseph is operated by the Brothers of the Sacred Heart, who have been active in American education since their arrival from Lyon, France in 1847. From 1901 to 1961, St. Joseph served as a center for training and educating Brothers prior to their apostolate. The main school building was dedicated in the spring of 1963. There are both lay and religious teachers.

As of the 2017–18 school year, the school had an enrollment of 683 students and 65.5 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 10.4:1. The school's student body was 72.2% (493) White, 11.0% (75) Asian, 8.5% (58) Hispanic and 8.3% (57) Black.

Since 2018, Anne Rivera is the principal for St. Joe's. She replaced Justin Fleetwood, who was promoted to president of the school.

History

Move to Metuchen

Brothers Stanislaus Florent and Philip Lindner moved into a three-story roadhouse in 1902 with the intention of setting up a training center for novices. Their funds were limited and finding willing recruits for the novitiate proved to be difficult as few people had heard of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart. However, by the start of the first session in November 1902 there were ten postulants.

The arrival of the additional personnel[vague] fueled support[clarification needed] for the construction of a new building that could serve as both a dormitory and classroom. However, in June 1903, a fire destroyed St Stanislaus College and with it the hopes for the new building.

The Brothers could afford to make only patchwork repairs and they had to assume the roles of blacksmiths and carpenters in order to repair damaged farm equipment and property. They also had to instigate cost-cutting measures, one of which involved the heating of the various buildings. Coal was used to heat only the main building, while stoves in the other buildings were fueled by railroad ties. The novices had to transport and handsaw the ties during their leisure time.

The greatest asset to the novitiate was the farm. The community could afford only things such as meat, bread, coffee and sugar. The rest had to be grown. The novices and postulants worked on the farm both in their free time and on scheduled work rotations. A common recreational activity of the residents was fishing on nearby Woodburn Pond.

Education of novices

The arrival of sixteen novices from France caused overcrowding. Due to the community's budget constraints, they were forced to improve on their facilities in piecemeal fashion.

The first true expansion of the novitiate occurred in 1907 when the main house was renovated. It was determined that a new chapel was needed in order to handle the number of inhabitants. A new building would have been too expensive and so it was decided to add a new wing.[clarification needed] Three years later, the main house underwent another refurbishment. The top floor was refitted as a dormitory, while dining and recreation rooms were added to the lower level. Outside, the carriage house that held the novices was moved and a small cottage was placed adjacent to the main building.

Not all the changes were strictly practical. The community was concerned about the appearance of the grounds and after the addition of the new wing in 1907, a marble statue of Saint Joseph, weighing 1,400 lb (640 kg), was installed in front of the building.

The community expands

During the early 1920s, various fund-raising events provided the necessary capital to begin construction of a proper chapel. This was formally opened in 1922. At the dedication ceremony, the Bishop of Trenton, Thomas J. Walsh, asked the Brothers to take control of the Cathedral High School in Trenton.

In 1924 construction of what is now known as O'Neil Hall was completed. The building, designed by the same architect who had created the chapel, provided recreation rooms, kitchens and dining rooms, science labs, several classrooms and a large dormitory.

In 1951, a proposal was made to move the novitiate to Blairstown but failed due to lack of funding. Ten years later, the novitiate moved to Belvidere. This resolved the problem of overcrowding and enabled the separation of the novitiate from the postulant programs, as had been originally envisaged by the Province.

Founding of the high school

With the newfound space,[clarification needed] the Brothers decided to establish a high school[clarification needed] and in the fall of 1961 admitted 150 ninth grade students. A high school grew out of the old postulant program, which had existed for some time.[vague] The building was constructed on the land occupied by Brother Fabian's[clarification needed] vineyard that had been planted about sixty years before. The building was completed in 1963 at a cost of US$1 million.

The school soon developed high academic standards. The class of 1965 had two national merit scholarship semi-finalists, the first of many students in this category.

Student life

Athletics

The St. Joseph High School Falcons compete in the Red Division of the Greater Middlesex Conference (GMC), which is comprised of public and private high schools in the greater Middlesex County area, and operates under the supervision of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association. With 862 students in grades 10-12, the school was classified by the NJSIAA for the 2019–20 school year as Non-Public A for most athletic competition purposes, which included schools with an enrollment of 381 to 1,454 students in that grade range (equivalent to Group III for public schools). The school was classified by the NJSIAA as Non-Public Group IV for football for 2018–2020.

The school fields interscholastic teams from freshmen through varsity levels in various sports including football, cross country, soccer, basketball, bowling, ice hockey, swimming, winter track, baseball, golf, lacrosse, spring track, crew, tennis, volleyball, and wrestling. Football was added to sports at St. Joseph's, with varsity play beginning in the 2010 season, with the team playing independently in 2011 and beginning play in the GMC White Division in 2012. Wrestling returned to the sports offerings at St. Joseph's beginning during the 2018–2019 school year.

In 1963, St Joseph's established their first varsity teams, these being in track, basketball and baseball. A varsity soccer team was set up in the following year. The school has won state titles in basketball, cross country, curling, winter and spring track, soccer, swimming, tennis, lacrosse and volleyball.

St. Joseph's soccer team has won seven NJSIAA state championships, winning the Non-Public A state title in 1964 (against runner-up St. Cecilia High School (New Jersey) in the tournament final), 1971 (vs. Notre Dame High School), 1972 (vs. Notre Dame), 1976 (vs. Bergen Catholic High School), 1978 (vs. Saint Joseph Regional High School of Montvale), 1988 (vs. Bergen Catholic) and 1994 (vs. Don Bosco Preparatory High School). The 1971 team finished the season with a 14-3-1 record after winning the Parochial A state title with a 1-0 defeat of Notre Dame on a penalty kick with minutes left in regulation.

The boys track team won the Non-Public Group A spring track state championship in 1972 (as co-champion), 1976 and 1998.

The cross country team won the Non-Public Group A state championship in 1973 and 1974.

The swimming team was formed in 1968. St. Joseph has won 22 state swimming championships: in 1980–1991, 1993–1997, 1999, 2002–2004 and 2006. The program's 22 state titles are ranked second in the state. The team has won 40 consecutive Greater Middlesex Conference championships in total.

The tennis team won the Non-Public A state championship in 1987, defeating runner-up Bergen Catholic High School in the finals.

The ice hockey team won the Handchen Cup in 1991 and the Kolodney Cup in 2012-2017, 2019 and 2020.

The varsity volleyball program has brought home three state championships: in 2002 (defeating Hunterdon Central Regional High School in the final match of the tournament), 2006 (vs. Bridgewater-Raritan High School) and 2008 (vs. St. Peter's Preparatory School). The program's three state titles are tied for fourth-most in the state. The team has also won four sectional state championships in 2006, 2008, 2010, and 2011.

The lacrosse team won the Non-Public A state championship in 2010, defeating St. Augustine Preparatory School in the tournament final.

The basketball team won the Non-Public Group B state championship in 2012 (against runner-up Seton Hall Preparatory School in the playoff final), 2014 (vs. St. Peter's Preparatory School) and 2014 (vs. St Peter's). The team captured their first Tournament of Champions title in 2014, holding on to beat Newark East Side 49–47 in the championship game, after a last second three-point shot by East Side was deflected.

The bowling team won the Group II state championship in 2017.

Although no longer offered, the school once had a competitive gymnastics program, winning state championships in 1992 and 1993. Water polo is also no longer played.

The St. Joseph athletes are supported by their student fan section, commonly known as the "Falcon Flock."

In March 2015 the school began construction on a new football stadium and track and field facility. The field and surrounding track were completed for the start of the 2015 football season.

St. Joe's announced for the 2018–2019 season, wrestling will make a return after being inactive for 24 years.

Publications

The Falcon

The student body publishes a newspaper, The Falcon. The Falcon is entirely student run. Published monthly, the newspaper seeks to inform the student body of important events transpiring in the St. Joe's community. The Falcon has often been recognized by the American Scholastic Press Association for first place among high school newspapers in its national contest, including four consecutive awards from 2005 to 2008. Long considered to be a branch of the administration's marketing and recruiting plans, The Falcon took a significant step in Fall 2009 toward student-interest stories and articles that were occasionally critical of administrative policies. Frequent segments include "Brother Mike's Movie Review," student columns, and a sports section.

The Vignette

The school publishes a yearly literary magazine. In 1963, The Falcon, had a literary contest and published their winners in a special edition. This contest continued to be held under the auspices of the newspaper until it grew into the current school literary magazine, The Vignette, which has since won various awards and received national recognition. Another product of the arts program was the Drama Club, established in 1963 with its first production, Stalag 17.

Saint Joseph Radio Network

A student-run radio network doing live broadcasts on all athletics around campus.

Extracurricular achievements

On February 29, 2012 the 2011-2012 College Bowl team traveled to Manhattan to compete in MSG Varsity's annual show The Challenge. The Challenge, hosted by Jared Cotter, showcases the best and brightest high school students from 192 tri-state area high schools testing competing teams on their knowledge of history, arts and literature, current events, math, and science in front of a live studio audience. St. Joes won its first two matches against DePaul Catholic and Howell Township to advance to the state quarterfinals on March 15, 2012. On the final day of competition, St. Joseph High School defeated three teams, (Chatham High School, Torah Academy of Bergen County, and Mountain Lakes), all in close matches, to win its 2nd straight New Jersey Challenge state championship. As New Jersey champions, St. Joseph received $2,500. Although they were able to advance to the tri-state championship, St. Joseph High School did not emerge victorious.

The Saint Joseph History Bowl team competed at the National History Bowl championships in Alexandria, VA in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014, finishing in 3rd, 5th, 5th, and 9th places respectively. Individually competing in the National History Bee in 2012, Senior Alex Frey of Dunellen, NJ won the national championship, going on to win the international championship as well, and Sophomore Jack Mehr finished in the top ten of the Junior Varsity competition. The following year, Mehr and another player were semifinalists in the Varsity and Junior Varsity divisions respectively.

In 1999 and 2000, the school's chess team was the New Jersey high school team champion, winning the Father Casimir J. Finley Trophy.

Controversy

On June 21, 2015, a former history teacher, Brother John Spalding (74 at the time) was charged with maintaining child pornography on a computer that the school had provided to him. Spalding was charged possessing child pornography and endangering the welfare of a child. He was released on $75,000 bail, and subsequently transferred by the school.

In 2017, the school, along with Brother James De Fillips, were sued via separate lawsuits by four former employees, Thomas Scarano, Eugene Tyrrell, Jerry Smith, and Thomas Cunningham, over the termination of their employment. The lawsuits for Scarano and Tyrrell state that they were fired due to age discrimination. The case for Smith stated that he was fired due to age discrimination and over claims that he was involved in tuition payments for student-athletes, of which he denies involvement. Cunningham's suit lists that his employment was terminated because he questioned the appropriateness of the behavior of a priest towards students and pointed administration towards photographs of the priest and students on Instagram. The suits for Scarano, Tyrrell, and Smith, all of which also listed De Fillips as a defendant, were settled out of court and as of July 2018, there has been no resolution or updates to Cunningham's case.

Notable alumni

External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article St. Joseph High School (Metuchen, New Jersey), released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.