St. Edward High School is making history on two fronts this week: it was named a National Blue Ribbon School and it launched an $18 million capital campaign, “The Courage to Act.”
The Blue Ribbon School designation, awarded to 279 schools nationally and only 50 private schools annually, comes after a year of intense examination. St. Edward is one of two non-public schools in Ohio and one of only eight statewide to earn the designation, which is based on adherence to rigorous academic and graduation standards.
James Kubacki, St. Edward president, said the capital campaign will help ensure those high standards remain and are enhanced at the school, which is sponsored by the Brothers of the Holy Cross. The campaign will provide funds to build a Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation and a new Commons, a dining hall at the front of the school that will serve as a welcoming entrance. Additionally, Kubacki said the campaign will have a significant focus on growing the school’s endowment to support tuition assistance. There are 963 young men attending St. Edward, the largest enrollment since 1988, he said. By the time the campaign was made public, more than $12 million had been raised.
At a special campaign kickoff event on Sept. 29 at the school, it was announced that the largest financial gift in school history — $2.5 million – was received from Diana and Gregg Lowe to build the new Ken Layden ’80 Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation. Gregg Lowe, a 1980 St. Edward graduate, is a technology executive. Layden, also a 1980 graduate, died in 2008. The new center will be an addition to the Joseph and Helen Lowe Pre-Engineering and Technology Center, which was built in 2008 on the east side of the campus. The new addition will add a third floor and expand the first floor to add four new labs, as well as more space for equipment. The top floor will house the entrepreneur and innovation center. Construction is expected to begin in June.
”In 2008, when Ken Layden developed the concept of launching an entrepreneurship program at St. Ed’s, we were the grateful recipients of his forward-thinking vision,” Kubacki said. “Bringing this center to life honors that vision and will afford our students with opportunities to explore entrepreneurship and innovation in unprecedented ways.”
Kubacki said the new Commons, which will be the new main entrance, and a rotunda will be built at the east end of the campus. The new student Commons will become the St. Edward “family room,” school officials said, providing a place for students to gather before, between and after classes, to share a meal, engage in conversation and spend time working together to develop relationships.
“It will change the face of the school and allow us to welcome all to our campus with the care and warmth of St. Brother Andre Bessette, C.S.C., our role model for hospitality,” Kubacki said. A statue of St. Brother Andre will greet visitors as they arrive. He was a French Canadian brother, well-known for his longtime ministry of hospitality, who was canonized by Pope Benedict in 2010.
In addition to the physical changes at the school, Kubacki said the capital fund will help raise additional money for tuition assistance, which will help keep the school affordable. About 60 percent of students receive tuition assistance, which totals nearly $3.2 million annually.
He said the school focuses on three areas, “hospitality, innovation and affordability, as we follow the Holy Cross mission of brotherhood, humility and service to others before ourselves. We provide a foundation of faith and ethics to send confident and competent young men into the world.”
Helping to initiate the public phase of the campaign were Sean Hennessy, Sherwin-Williams senior vice president, finance and CFO and a 1975 St. Edward graduate, and Paul Clark, PNC regional president, and a 1971 graduate. They co-chair the Courage to Act campaign. Honorary co-chairs are TV personality Phil Donohue, a member of the first graduating class in 1953, Brother James Everett, C.S.C., Jack Kahl, Class of 1958, and Father Richard Warner, C.S.C., Class of 1957.
Donahue and his wife, Marlo Thomas, attended the kickoff event. Donahue reminisced about the early days of St. Edward, sharing humorous stories, including playing clarinet with the first band, being the cartoonist for the student newspaper and taking dancing lessons.
“”Brother William Donoghue and the two other brothers found a young couple to provide us with dancing lessons . . . and most of us hadn’t started to shave yet,” Donahue quipped. “This place has the Holy Cross signature. The spiritual features available to young boys here are not available elsewhere. And the Blue Ribbon is a big deal. We stand on the shoulders of a lot of people who made a lot of sacrifices.”
Donahue also acknowledged St. Edward’s 2015 state championship in football, noting that recently he said in his Manhattan apartment in New York and was able to watch his high school football team play.
And he recalled another benefit of attending St. Edward in the early years. “You got almost guaranteed admission to Notre Dame if you graduated from St. Ed’s – no SATs, no ACTs – you got a letter from one of the brothers and you could get in.”
Thomas said she can relate to the work facing those running the capital campaign, since she spends much of her time raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which was founded by her father, entertainer Danny Thomas.
She also was raised Catholic. “There’s nothing like being raised by nuns and priests . . . it can strike fear in your heart. I was a Marymount girl, so I get it,” she said. “What this school did for him (Donahue) made him the kind of man he is – the kind of man that made me break my vow never to marry . . . I’m honored to be a part of this. I love my husband and he loves this school.”
“This campaign will catapult St. Edward to the next level,” Clark said. “St. Edward changes lives. What happens here is a gift. Our students make a difference in the world and our goal is to continue to change lives.”
More information about St. Edward is available at face book.com/wearesteds, on Twitter @wearesteds or visit sehs.net.