ROCHESTER — Bill Reilly, a junior at McQuaid Jesuit High School, recently studied countless photographs taken of faculty members at his school since it was founded 50 years ago.
His exhaustive research compelled him to make this thoughtful conclusion: “Teachers have very interesting haircuts,” he said.
With the help of the school’s special-events coordinator, Mary Conley, Bill put together an impressive display of yearbooks, scrapbooks, school newspapers, awards, artwork and other memorabilia — including photos of teachers with groovy haircuts — for the all-boys’ school’s 50th anniversary celebration Sept. 30.
During the day, visitors to McQuaid, which houses grades seven through 12, could visit the exhibit Bill put together. In the evening, the school’s newly renovated chapel was dedicated during a Mass, which was followed by a reception and dinner attended by about 300 people. One of those attending was Thomas I. Nientimp, a 1959 graduate who is former chairman of the school’s board of trustees.
“You’ve got to feel the special nature of McQuaid when you walk around,” Nientimp said as he sat beneath a wall on which hung plaques inscribed with the names of members of the school’s Round Table. The Round Table’s purpose is to recognize distinguished individuals associated with McQuaid. Its members, including Nientimp, were inducted in a ceremony on the evening of the 50th-anniversary celebration.
Nientimp noted that he had sent his two sons, Tom and David, through McQuaid, and has supported the school in whatever fashion he could, from painting its walls to working on its fundraisers. He fondly remembered being a member of McQuaid’s second class.
“I, like many of my classmates, felt the excitement of being pioneers for a new school working to establish itself within the Rochester community,” he said. “At that time there were some 40 Jesuits and 20 lay faculty and staff ‚Ä¶ Like the students, they were pioneers hell-bent to make a first-rate impression and to establish a legacy.”
According to a school history, McQuaid — which was named for the Rochester Diocese’s first bishop, Bernard McQuaid — opened its doors to 196 boys on Sept. 8, 1954. Currently, the school boasts 886 students, more than 10 percent of whom come from outside Monroe County. Students commute to the school from such counties as Livingston, Wayne and Ontario.
Since its opening, more than 7,000 men have graduated from the school, including John DiMarco, a school trustee and 1960 graduate. His construction firm built the school’s newest wing in 2001, and his two sons, John and Joel, have graduated from the school.
“I donate a lot to the school because I feel that the school was very responsible for the success I was able to obtain in life,” DiMarco said.
The involvement of parents like DiMarco impressed McQuaid’s chancellor, Jesuit Father James J. Fischer, who also served as president for 11 years.
“Everybody is always connected to the school,” Father Fischer said. “They’re always at your doorstep.”
And the institution must make an impact on those associated with it, since almost everyone talked — without prompting — about McQuaid creating the Jesuit ideal of “men for others.”
“A Jesuit education isn’t primarily about ‘getting something,’ but about giving something back, about being men for others who make the community and the world a better place,” said Jesuit Father Philip G. Judge, principal.
School President James E. Whelehan also emphasized McQuaid’s Jesuit heritage.
“McQuaid is defined by and linked to a heritage, which dates back more than 450 years when St. Ignatius founded the Jesuit order,” he said. “That heritage is a proven model for the school’s present success.”
As for the school’s future, it seems to be in good hands, if the words of freshmen Christian Cassara and Garret Bonosky are any indication. Greeting people as they came through the doors of the school for the celebration, Christian and Garret smiled widely when asked if they liked attending McQuaid.
“I love it!” Garrett said. “It’s more like a brotherhood. It’s a fraternity. There’s no girls here, and you can be yourself. You’re here to learn. There’s no distractions.”
Evidencing the eloquence only a Jesuit education can bestow, Christian looked at his friend and said: “I agree.”