Fifty years of change for Comets
Bailey Heldmar and Mary W. Allen
September 12, 2009
Filed under In-Depth
Bishop Kelley has undergone a multitude of changes since it opened its doors 50 years ago. Some of the most drastic changes involve the types of classes offered, the daily schedule, and the fact that all classes are now co-ed.
Mr. Gary Oberste, who graduated from Bishop Kelley in 1970, thinks that the biggest change that has been made is the quality of education that the school offers.
“We have always been college prep,” Oberste said. “But, the quality of education has doubled or tripled.”
That has been accomplished by raising the requirements and by hiring a highly qualified teaching staff. The early staff, extremely small compared to what we have now, consisted of six brothers, twelve sisters, and eight lay persons. The director of the entire school was Brother Marshall, and two principals were in power, one for each gender. The boys’ principal was well-known Brother Bernardine Kuzminski, and the girls, were led Sister Angelina Marie.
Also, the average class size has been cut in half. In the early days of Bishop Kelley, the number of students in each class was about forty or forty-two, Oberste said.
There were also several classes that are no longer offered at Bishop Kelley. Some examples are home economics, cooking, and office practice.
“I took office practice my senior year,” Mary Ann Robb Van Veen ’62 said. “It trained you to become a secretary.”
Van Veen explained that there were only three electric typewriters in her class, reserved for the more advanced students, and the rest were manual.
“Knowing how to type has been a blessing my whole life,” she said.
Until 1965 most classes at Bishop Kelley were separated by gender. In fact, Brother Bernardine became one of the first Christian Brothers in America to teach girls. In 1961, he asked and was granted permission from Rome to have girls in his honors math classes. While Van Veen was not in one of Brother Bernardine’s math classes, she did take one of his science classes.
“I was in his physical science class which I loved,” she said.
Van Veen had one special memory of Brother Bernardine.
“He would make the boys stand and let the girls walk out of class first,” she said.
Mr. Oberste described the very different schedule that used to be in place at Bishop Kelley.
“There were six, 55 minute classes,” he said. “And, you only had three minutes passing period to get to each one.”
He explained that students went to three classes then went to lunch. There were two different lunch times. Boys and girls walked in the cafeteria through separate entrances and sat on opposite sides of the room.