FOUNDED IN 1949
In 1949, St. Edward High School was founded as a comprehensive Catholic boys high school, staffed primarily by Holy Cross Brothers from Notre Dame, Indiana, and serving mostly working class families in a blue-collar city whose history was dominated by the steel industry.
From the beginning, the Holy Cross tradition of educating both the mind and heart pervaded the ministry. The Brothers who taught, coached, and administered the new school thought of themselves as educators in the faith.
On September 6, 1949, Br. John William Donoghue, C.S.C., the school’s first principal, along with two other brothers from Notre Dame, welcomed the first class of 100 freshman boys to St. Edward High School. With the permanent school building under construction, the students began classes in the old St. Theresa’s Academy, approximately three blocks west of the school’s current location.
The school continued to grow in its temporary location, and in 1951 more than 750 students and 22 faculty members moved into the school’s permanent location at 13500 Detroit Ave.
Enrollment continued to grow as middle class Catholic families on the west side of Cleveland sought a low-cost, quality, comprehensive education. At its height, enrollment peaked at more than 1,750 during the 1968-69 school year, when tuition was just $300 a year.
In the early 1990s, St. Edward began the process of transitioning from a comprehensive school to a college preparatory school, focused on preparing students for success at the university level and beyond. The school’s academic success was recognized on a national level in 1996 (and again in 2016) as a "Blue Ribbon School of Excellence” by the United States Department of Education. In 1998, St. Edward High School adopted the official designation of college preparatory.
St. Edward High School has gone through a great number of physical changes since becoming a college preparatory school in order to meet curriculum needs and fulfill the Holy Cross Mission of offering a well-rounded, innovative education that develops the minds and hearts of every student.
In 2000, the school embarked on its largest capital campaign to date, raising more than $9 million to bring the campus into the 21st century. Additions included a Student Activity Center with a gym, weight room, and indoor track; a synthetic, all-weather athletic field and outdoor track; and the Kahl Student Life & Leadership Center, which was dedicated in 2004.
Advancements in curriculum, especially the establishment of the innovative pre-engineering program in 2001, drove the next phase of expansion on campus. As the pre-engineering program gained popularity, with nearly one-third of the student body enrolled, the need for dedicated space to grow the program became essential. In July 2008, the Joseph & Helen Lowe Pre-Engineering & Technology Center, a state-of-the-art facility including five classrooms and four technology labs, was dedicated on the west end of the campus.
Just two months later, the new Holy Family Chapel opened on the west end of the campus, adjacent to the Lowe Pre-Engineering & Technology Center. The golden dome-topped chapel is St. Edward’s most public symbol of faith-based education and the school’s close ties to the University of Notre Dame.
In 2010, as Jim Kubacki assumed the role of the school’s first lay leader, the innovation continued, yielding tangible results that positioned St. Edward to enter an era of unprecedented success and continued vibrancy. A rigorous strategic planning process identified $100 million in facilities, endowment, and programmatic needs required to secure St. Edward into the future. To make this vision for the future a reality, the most urgent and impactful initiatives were prioritized in The Courage to Act Campaign, including Hospitality, Innovation, and Affordability. The Courage to Act Campaign, which began with an initial goal of $15 million, concluded in August 2019, shattering expectations by raising $23.7 million.
The most significant aspect of the project was the addition of a third floor to the existing Joseph & Helen Lowe Institute for Innovation that houses the Ken Layden ’80 Center for Entrepreneurial Solutions. The 12,000-square foot addition is comprised of thoughtfully-designed spaces that inspire students to work collaboratively and develop solutions to diverse challenges. The main level, adjacent to the Holy Family Chapel, is The Keehan Family Center for Advanced Sciences and includes four expansive, self-contained labs for students to experiment and explore applications in physics, chemistry, and life sciences. The expansion also includes a complete renovation and addition to the engineering classrooms, labs, and maker spaces on the first floor in the H.C.S. Foundation Center for Engineering. What were originally traditional classrooms on that level were reconfigured into a university-quality maker space, adding 2,000 square feet as well as a covered, outdoor work deck.
The Campaign’s final project was the construction of the Marilyn and David Palisin '64 Commons, the first new building added to St. Edward’s campus in over 10 years. This 15,000-square-foot facility would include a new dining hall and welcoming reception area, epitomizing the charism of Holy Cross hospitality. The Palisin Commons will welcome Edsmen for the 2020-2021 school year.
To this day, while most of the faculty consists of laypersons, the spiritual dimension of Catholic education remains strong at St. Edward. Although St. Edward is an independent Catholic school, Holy Cross education entails working closely with the local church, as well as reaching out to as broad a population as possible to ensure academic, ethnic, and economic diversity. Our focus is to continue to cater to educational needs of each individual student, providing them with the highest-quality college-preparatory education in a safe and moral environment, while instilling in them the values that they Holy Cross Brothers founded the school on in 1949.