On the morning of September 3rd, 1883, a small group of students marched up the winding stairs of Springfield’s St. Michael’s Cathedral and into two storerooms that had been converted into classrooms. It was day one of the storied history of Cathedral High School.
The increasing number of Catholic immigrants living in the Springfield area had prompted Bishop Patrick T. O’Reilly to seek a teaching staff for a high school. Ten members of the Sisters of St. Joseph in Flushing, New York were sent in response to the bishop’s request. Nellie McQuade and and Margaret Cruse hold the distinction of being the first to graduate from Cathedral in 1885. In the early twentieth century students entering Cathedral studied Church doctrine, Latin, English, algebra and history. Greek and French were added in the sophomore year, and the sciences offered in this classical tract were physics and chemistry. Cathedral also offered in those early days a series of commercial classes that included writing, spelling, shorthand, typing, and bookkeeping. Upon the death of Bishop O’Reilly, his successor Thomas Beaven had the foresight to convert the old convent on Elliot Street into the new home of Cathedral High School.
In the 1950s, the growing high school age population in the greater Springfield area brought about the necessity of a larger building. Under the direction of Bishop Christopher Weldon, the diocese purchased the 30-acre Simon Kervick farm at Wendover and Surrey Roads. Ground was broken for the present school on March 17th, 1958, and the “new” Cathedral opened its doors on September 9th, 1959. This date marks the first time that Cathedral students wore uniforms, consisting of a green wool blazer, plaid wool skirt, tailored white blouse, white socks and saddle shoes for girls, and a gray wool blazer, white dress shirt, tie and color-coordinated pants for boys. Both uniform blazers displayed the Cathedral seal on the left breast pocket.
While the school’s size and location have changed over the years, the core mission and the quality education offered have not changed. Cathedral today is a college preparatory school, where 99% of our graduates continue their education at some of the nation’s best private and public colleges and universities.
On June 1st, 2011, a tornado swept through Western Mass with Cathedral directly in its path, rendering the school unusable. The diocese rented the Memorial School in Wilbraham, and with much hard work Cathedral High School was able to open for the fall semester in September 2011.