Father Dan Fitzpatrick, SJ, Moderator | Xavier High School | 30 West 16th Street, New York, NY 10011 | 212-337-7551 | brooklynprep@gmail.com
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Mission

 

THE BODY and THE LEGACY   

When the decision was made to close Brooklyn Preparatory High School it is fair to assume the question surfaced, “What will happen to the Alumni as a “Body” and the instilled Jesuit Tradition that had become an essential part of each of us?”

The Body 

The response to that question led to the formation of the Brooklyn Preparatory Alumni Association (the Body). This organization would enable all graduates to maintain a fraternal brotherhood of fellow classmates, friends, and teachers, intertwined with our Jesuit Tradition. This entity would replace the loss of our school as the organization that would provide the forum for alumni events that normally emanate from a school.

Each of us would be invited to become a member of the Brooklyn Prep Alumni Association. A brotherhood was created whereby we could maintain a fraternal camaraderie with the people from whom we derived our friendships, our teachings, and our roots.

To qualify for membership, the primary pre-requisite was, simply stated, to be a bonafide graduate of the school. 
  
To provide structure and viability to our institution a charter was developed and a Board of Directors was formed to govern and control. The board would be composed of graduates supported by one of our Jesuit priests who would actively serve on the Board as moderator.

Lest we forget, the very idea of the Brooklyn Prep concept was first “seeded” and then opened by the Jesuits in 1908. For us, the Jesuit Tradition began at that point in time. The mark of that training and teaching remains with us today and must always be recognized and remembered.

The single, most dominant and meaningful tradition that has grown out of this entity has been the annual Mass and Spring Dinner. It provides the forum and means for the alumni to fulfill the primary purpose of our existence-fraternal camaraderie and spiritual experience. It has become the single most attended event offered by our association.

Conclusively, the essence of our original mission consists of a spiritual connection to God via St. Ignatius and the fraternal camaraderie between classmates, teachers, and Jesuit traditions and influence. The Brooklyn Preparatory Alumni Association (The Body of members) and the annual Mass and Dinner are a manifestation of these objectives.

                                                         The Legacy

As the Association developed and matured there came a time when the Board of Directors searched for a goal that would enhance our purpose beyond the essential primary mission previously outlined. This goal would always have to coincide with the defined traditional primary mission of the BPAA. It should never transcend our original purpose. 

Appropriately, The Scholarship Fund was created. Our organization decided to sponsor young boys and girls at our prep schools by way of scholarship. The Brooklyn Prep Scholarship Program required candidates to meet criteria based on financial need, their academic potential, and desire to earn this opportunity. They would join our Jesuit communities as young students and finally leave our Jesuit High Schools as young Catholics equipped with same values and morals we experienced during our Jesuit exposures and training. 
  
This goal has been realized and manifests itself in the three hundred plus students who have completed this journey. The Brooklyn Preparatory Association successfully created a goal that would benefit others in the tradition of our Jesuit Training. It would be an extension of all that we were in the past and would continue towards the future. The Body of Members developed an additional, more meaningful purpose for the Brooklyn Preparatory Alumni Association with a long-term future.
  
However, the Board of Directors, under the watchful eye of the Investment Committee and our previous moderator, Fr. Jack Alexander SJ, determined in the recent past that a major growing question had to be answered.
  
There would come a time when the “Body” would begin a pattern of population decline as the membership’s mortality becomes evident. This led to the question, “What can we do to ensure the continuance of the program when the “Body” no longer exists?”
  
To ensure that the original principals and guidelines that have been established continue in perpetuity, a legal document "The Last Man Standing" has been created. After a year of thoughtful introspection and assistance from a team of attorneys and accountants, the document now stands in place to guide future curators of the Endowment.

This Scholarship program is our contribution to the young students participating in the Jesuit Tradition. Yet, it also has produced a positive causal effect relationship. The financial challenges related to the Scholarship Program have produced the effect of renewed efforts for us to maintain our levels of membership of The Body.  When you reflect on where we started, where we are, and where we are going, you begin to see that the goal is now inspiring us to maintain a pro-active, positive direction of the Brooklyn Preparatory Alumni Association.
  
The BPAA started the program for the students and now the program, as designed, is actually helping to “drive” us. God does work in strange ways. We are striving to protract and prolong the viability and productivity of BPAA to achieve our “spiritual gift of giving”.
  
When our numbers finally decline, the remaining, closing alumni will have this asset to manage and follow through to the final completion. The Scholarship program will continue "Ad Infinitum" due to the "Last Man Standing" document the Board has put in place. The Brooklyn Preparatory Alumni Association will have defined and installed The Legacy of our High School. 
  
                                                               Conclusion

If we reflect on these thoughts it is rather simple and plain to understand. A group of students, teachers and priests shared a common tradition of values and education offered by the Society of Jesus. The Brooklyn Preparatory Alumni Association was formed as a structure in which the “BODY” of members could maintain its identity and purpose for being in the long term.
  
The “Body” developed a spirit of giving in the form of the Scholarship Fund. It was the result of the values and traditions learned during our school years. In God’s scheme of things, the very program to help young people enjoy the fruits of our efforts is now becoming a significant driving force towards our future for us as well.
  
The scholarship awards concept and goal is taking on the form and definition of The Legacy.  It is becoming a part of the spiritual driving force of our association. 

We should reflect on this very basic BPAA creation: The Body and the Legacy. We must re-dedicate ourselves to the fundamental original mission and purpose for our being and take the necessary steps to insure and ensure our goal. We must not be distracted from whom we are and what we are attempting to do. 

At some time in the future, only the Legacy will remain. That legacy will consist of gifts of love to young students who will graduate from Jesuit High Schools just as we did. That will be the testimony to The Brooklyn Preparatory High School we all loved and cherished.

      

Three noteworthy institutions have resided on Crow Hill, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the most famous being Brooklyn Preparatory High School. Previously, King’s County Penitentiary occupied the area bounded by Rogers and Nostrand Avenues and by Carroll and Montgomery Streets; today, Medgar Evers College, of City University of New York, shares the city block with St. Ignatius Church and Loyola Hall.

Like Manhattan, Crow Hill was purchased from American Indians with the permission of Governor Francis Lovelace; however, this time, it was the Indians who swindled the colonists. In 1607 Peter Elmohar and Job and Shamese Makaquiquas, did not hold a title to the land which they sold for one hundred guilders, three long barrel rifles, four match coats, a half tun of strong beer and two half tuns of ordinary beer. They were Canarsie or Sachem Indians from Staten Island who had merely traveled to Brooklyn to hunt.

The property changed hands several times. Owners included Jacob Ryerson, Jeremiah Vanderbilt, Jacob Bergen, John Lefferts, Isaac Cortelyou and John Lott – names identified as amongst the first families of Brooklyn and later as names of prominent streets. In 1846 the Kings County Board of Supervisors purchased the site. The penitentiary and workhouse, where prisoners made shoes, was completed in 1848. Inmates, most memorable Polly Frisch, would exercise in the yard, which became the Prep’s athletic field. The steel-barred basement windows and wall remain as the only reminders of the jail since the building was demolished in 1907. That year the site was sold to Bishop McDonnell, who subsequently sold it to the Society of Jesus.

In November 1907, plans were drawn up for the building of Brooklyn College and a two-year grammar school, preparatory school, and college, which would have encircled the entire block. However, these ambitious dreams were later scaled back due to World War I. The cornerstone of the original building, which faces Carroll Street and measures 40 x 200 feet, was put in place by Bishop McDonnell on April 24, 1908. On that occasion, with wishes of success from Pius X and President Roosevelt, the school was solemnly blessed by the Right Reverend Monsignor P. J. McNamara, Vicar General of the Diocese. The initial group of 226 students were greeted by the Reverend J. F. X. O’Conor, S.J., founder and first president, as follows: “…we wish to make you – Christian, educated gentlemen…Brooklyn Prep men are RICH – R is for Religion, I for Intellect, C for Character and H for Health.” The first commencement exercises were held on June 15, 1909. Tuition was $25.00 a quarter plus a $25.00 entrance fee.

For twenty years both college and prep students shared quarters, and faculty lived across the street at 1125 Carroll, Jogues’ House. Loyola Hall, facing Rogers Avenue, was built in 1915; and St. Ignatius Church was erected adjacent to it. A Prep grad, Felix P. McKenna, of the New York architect firm McKenna & Irving, designed and supervised the erection of the new faculty-house and high school wing extending toward crown Street which were completed in 1929. The final expansion in 1959 added more classrooms, a cafeteria, gymnasium-auditorium and pool facing Crown Street.

The Prep has had three different legal names. The BC on the glass of the front door harkens back to the beginning when Prep was known as Brooklyn College and Preparatory School. In 1913 the college department ceased and the name was legally changed to Brooklyn Academy, although everyone referred to the school as Brooklyn Prep. Then in 1927, the ‘Academy’ title was dropped and ‘Brooklyn Preparatory School’ became the official title.

The saga of Brooklyn Prep’s closing began in 1968 when a consolidation program was announced at a New York Provincial meeting of the Society of Jesus. Crippled by debt and a lack of vocations, the Society could no longer support nine high schools. Various options were proposed, such as having the Brooklyn Diocese take over operations at the Prep, or raising tuition from the current $850.00 (it had been just $450.00 in 1967) and making the school self-funded; until New York City expressed an interest in purchasing the building. The City University system was expanding due to its new open-enrollment policy. The sale for $2.75 million occurred in July, 1971 with the stipulation that the Prep would vacate the building by the following year. This phase-out program allowed the class of 1972 to graduate and the class of 1973 was given the option to accelerate and to graduate in 1972.

During its peak years the Prep numbered close to 1,000 students and 50 faculty members. More than 490 teachers and 9,300 graduates passed through the doors at 1150 Carroll Street from 1908 through 1972.

Today, the Brooklyn Prep Alumni Association keeps the memory of the Prep alive at their Annual Spring Dinner and on www.brooklynprep.org. The Association, through dues, contributions and special events, such as the Golf Classic, designates scholarship money for students in need of financial assistance to attend Jesuit High Schools in the New York Province.

 

        In their desire to share with young men and women the experience of an education at a Jesuit High School, the Alumni of Brooklyn Prep has established the John D. Alexander, S.J. Endowment Fund.          

      The purpose of this fund is to provide financial assistance to needy young men and women in the Jesuit High Schools of the New York Province of the Society of Jesus. The fund has distributed monies on an annual basis since 1978. Monies for the fund are raised by annual alumni dues as well as by generous donations and bequests. It is in this way that the Alumni have chosen to keep the spirit and name of Brooklyn Prep alive since its closing in 1972.
   

 

 


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