Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School is named in honor of the first Bishop of Brooklyn, John Loughlin (1853-1891). It is at once the oldest and only diocesan high school in the Diocese of Brooklyn.
St. James Parish was organized and opened by a committee who believed that the "Village of Brooklyn" needed its own Catholic parish, burial ground, pastor and, most of all, school for instruction of its children “in the principles of our holy religion."
De LaSalle Christians Brothers Arrive
In March 1822, land on Jay Street was purchased for construction of the first Catholic church and school in Brooklyn and on Long Island. In September 1823, St. James School opened under the direction of Mr. J. Mehaney. In 1828, the Sisters of Charity undertook the school's direction. In 1851, the Brothers of the Christian Schools arrived to undertake the direction of the boys' section of St. James School. The Brothers, more popularly know as the De La Salle Christian Brothers, had opened their first permanent American school in Baltimore in 1845 and had started their first New York school in 1848.
St. James Academy
St. James, which antedated the establishment of the Diocese of Brooklyn in 1853, contained a student body of 320 young men. Notable in those early years was a special program prepared by the St. James band for the funeral of President Lincoln held in New York City in 1865. The New York Herald commented favorably on the band's appearance and the quality of the musical selections rendered. St. James was conducted as a parochial school until 1883 when commercial classes were added and the school became known as St. James Commercial High School. In 1903, the New York State Board of Regents incorporated St. James Academy. An official alumni society came into being in 1923.
St James Diocesan High School
In 1926 the name was again changed to St. James Diocesan High School. At the request of Bishop Molloy, the school became a tuition-free Diocesan High School. In 1927, The Jamesonian, the school newspaper, was published for the first time and the band evolved into a symphony orchestra. George Eastment came and breathed new life into the varsity track program in 1928 and a great track dynasty began.
Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School
In 1933 the high school on Jay Street was closed and the Brothers and students transferred to Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School. The new school was built on land originally intended for the diocesan cathedral bounded by Clermont, Greene, Lafayette, and Vanderbilt Avenues. The cornerstone of the school building erected in 1851 is now enshrined by the cafeteria entrance of the present building, a last vestige of the 81 years "Old St. James" stood downtown. The first Senior Prom was held in 1934 and the first edition of the Loughlinite, the school yearbook, appeared in 1938.
As a diocesan high school, Loughlin opened its doors to the people of the entire diocese, which included all of Long Island at that time. The top students from every parish were offered the finest academic and college preparatory education possible. These young men came from families that were predominately immigrants from Europe. The support of the Church and the people of the diocese gave their sons the education that enabled them to assume their positions in society. The school numbers among its graduates many of the professionals who today serve city, state, and country in the most responsible of positions.
St. Augustine Diocesan High School, a sixty year old Lassallian school for boys, closed in 1969. Once close rivals -- in both academics and athletics -- the two Brothers boys schools were united under one roof at 357 Clermont Avenue and the Christian Brothers influence continued to thrive in Brooklyn. In 1973, Bishop McDonnell Memorial High School, a central diocesan high school for girls, closed. The condition of the school building and the changing demographic and economic conditions of the city were the causes. The young women enrolled at McDonnell transferred to Loughlin, which thus became a co-educational institution for the first time in its 122-year history.
New Ideas and New Students for a New Millennium
In 2001, Loughlin's 150th year, the school established a Board of Governors. The board has limited jurisdiction and is restricted to a maximum of 21 members. It is composed primarily of alumni/ae -- including graduates of St. Augustine and Bishop McDonnell -- and members of the broader community.
Starting in 2004, the board undertook a strategic planning initiative. One result was the addition of the LaSalle Hall Boarding Program. Loughlin partnered with Anchor, Inc. to create this small boarding school. Its purpose is to help young men who are not maximizing their potential due to various factors. The boarding program seeks to establish an environment supportive of an achievement culture. It is consistent with the Lasallian mission. Three hundred years earlier, in 1705, De La Salle opened a boarding school at St. Yon, France.
In 2008, after consultation with the Board of Governors, Loughlin transitioned to a President/Principal administration model.
In its entire illustrious history, Loughlin has always served the people of Brooklyn, a people predominately immigrant and of modest means. The students who attend Loughlin today are not the Irish, Italian, German and Polish immigrants of yesteryear, but the Dominican, Ghanaian, Haitian, Jamaican, Nigerian, Panamanian, and Puerto Rican immigrants of today. Where in years gone by the populations of Brooklyn and Queens were largely Catholic, and the student body of the school was almost entirely Catholic, today's student is as likely to be Baptist, Episcopalian, Lutheran or Pentecostal as Catholic.