Next year marks Central Catholic’s 80th Anniversary of celebrating, faith, community and education, and the future looks incredibly bright for the next 80 years!
I have grown up a Ram, and I have had the privilege to teach, mentor, coach and entertain about 4,000 Rams since I started on 24th and Stark almost 20 years ago. I love this school, and I am honored to share our current story and vision for the future with you today.
My father, James Horne ‘56, used to regale our family with rough ‘n tumble tales of an all-boys school teetering on the brink of destruction. Apparently, 1,000 boys crammed the narrow halls, and when you weren’t stuffed into a locker for looking at someone funny, you had to battle a hoard of Spartans just to purchase your lunch. We knew the tales were tall, but there was a sense of pride from his generation. It was this sense of pride that led his peers to develop half the city of Portland—and their civic leadership demonstrated the mission and values of Central Catholic that would set the stage for all of us to follow.
I graduated from Central Catholic in 1988. I grew up on Ruby Burgers and waived my Bleacher Bum arms like a maniac in the Pine Street Palace to flummox unsuspecting free-throw shooters. I helped build booths for the Octoberfest at Holladay Park, and if we were lucky, we got a McDonalds lunch as a bonus for our labor. My teacher idols were Mr. Halligan, Madame Lucas, Mr. Sprinkle and many more that would be my colleagues when I joined the staff.
The physical building has changed over the years. There is now a New Gym and an Old Gym, but only one of them has the benefit of Boston Garden dead spots, 27 coats of paint on the bleachers, and the same community-building lunch location for the freshmen that I shared during my glory days. We have a beautiful library full of new books and computers, and the ghosts generally stay in the old library. (Which is, ironically, the Office of Advancement now).
The quality of education at Central Catholic is second to none! Our teachers are exceptional, and we cover material that was only available in comic books when I was in school. Our current students can learn coding and produce apps, we have an electronic music lab for producing music tracks, and we have a robotics class complete with an arena for the robots to complete tasks. (Which do not currently include using flame-throwers or sledgehammers...yet!)
For the past several years, the admissions motto has been Be Challenged, Be Yourself, and Belong. I have lived this first-hand with my kids and their friends and I feel duly optimistic about their future prospects. I have been incredibly proud to send my kids to Central Catholic. My daughter, Gabrielle ‘18, graduated last year and just finished her first year of college, and my son, Luke ‘21 will graduate in a couple years. (Unless he signs a professional Fortnite contract prior to that.)
Three generations of my family have been part of this community, and we are not alone. My kids have attended CC with my classmates’ children, and I am teaching the grandchildren of my Dad’s best friend. The building and the level of education may have changed, but the Central Catholic Community remains as strong as it’s ever been!
I would not be where I am today without the support of the entire Central Catholic community. We did not have a lot of money when I was young. At times, we received food from the Central Catholic alumni running the St. Rose food pantry, and I would not have been able to attend CC without the generous tuition assistance we received. When John Shepard hired me many years ago, I was greeted by past teachers, friends, and new parents that were excited to welcome a Ram back to the flock. The many students I have had the pleasure to work with have taught me so much! I owe so much to those that came before me, and I work hard to pay it forward to the current generation of Rams that enter the brick façade on a daily basis today. I am excited to get to work every day and help prepare these Rams for a world that needs Central Catholic graduates.
Our community is amazing and I am here to tell you how Central Catholic is the most desired high school out there today! We offer a rigorous education that supports a wide range of learners. We offer 13 AP courses and we offer eight dual-credit courses that not only prepare our college bound students for success, but we save their families thousands of dollars annually in college tuition costs. Our Catholic teachings and Christian Service Program have created students with compassion that are committed to creating a loving environment filled with equity and inclusivity. We are now entering our fourth year of the Rams Program, and in 2020, we will celebrate our first graduate of this program for students with intellectual disabilities. The largest club in our school is the Women’s Coalition, and these 150 young women have used their confidence and leadership to plan educational forums, teach a self-defense class, and attend symposiums with their peers around the state.
We are a school sized big enough to go toe-to-toe with any school in the state in Football, Cross Country, Constitution Team, Robotics, or any activity, sport, or academic program. More importantly, we are small enough that our students can have friends from all four grade levels and say hi to the majority of the school in the hallways on a daily basis. Central Catholic develops critical thinkers, and when they graduate, they share their talents with the rest of the world. Next year, we will launch the most comprehensive Character Development Program the city of Portland has ever seen. We will continue to teach and live our mission every day with our students, and we can’t wait to share the results with you in the coming years.
As a member of the Catholic Community my whole life, I have seen my share of appeal letters through the years. My hope is that you will consider a new level of support for your Central Catholic community! We want you to see your gift as an investment in Central Catholic to help us to continue to change the world together! We are all owners of this community. The next generation of students needs our help to navigate an ever-changing and complex world, and we want you to join us for this journey. You can:
- Work side by side with us as we perform Christian Service and change the world.
- Hire or provide job shadows for our young Rams as they seek out the best place to share their talents.
- Check out next year’s calendar and celebrate a school Mass with us.
- Cheer on our student athletes as they develop their courage and teamwork.
- Celebrate the arts as our Rams share their talents at a concert, Open Mic Night, or a drama production.
Furthermore, we would be thrilled if you would take advantage of two generous challenges from Joe Weston ‘56 through the OCF Joseph E. Weston Public Foundation. The first challenge of $300,000 will match all gifts to any scholarship or endowed fund, and the second challenge of $150,000 will match all gifts to the Tuition Assistance Fund.
The deadline to make a gift and appear in the Annual Report is June 30, 2019. We are currently less than $85,000 from reaching our $1.8 million goal, and $1.1 million of that has come from CC alumni of all ages! Gifts can be made by mail, online, or by calling Elaine Payne in the Office of Advancement. Thank you for your support of time, talent, and treasure through the years! We hope that you will continue investing in this incredible product that pays such great dividends for all of us!
Matt Horne ‘88
Director of Student Activities