Archbishop should have to look each Gibbons student in the eye

March 09, 2010

I first saw Cardinal Gibbons high School in February 1964. The school was having an open house for prospective students and their parents. I remember my mother telling how the building was a part of the old St Mary's industrial school for "bad boys," her words. She was proud to recall how Babe Ruth came back to the school to see some of his old friends, one of whom was her father, "Pop Wilson," who was the caretaker at the school in those days. We were shown, with pride, the new facilities including a marvelous language lab, and a state-of-the-art science department. My mind was set, Cardinal Gibbons it was. One of the Gibbons missions was to provide a Catholic education to the less fortunate boys in the diocese.

As the class of '68, we worked hard to form a Gibbons character and spirit. We followed a strict dress code in a time when other institutions were loosening up in the spirit of the '60s. We began traditions of excellence in scholastic and extracurricular activities. Our sports teams were second to none. We also initiated the Red Guard spirit club as a salute to those excellent athletes. We, as a family, faced tragedy when one of our teachers and three student colleagues were killed in a plane crash returning from the air museum in Dayton, Ohio. The spirits of Ben Borchers, Mike Slovatinek, Mark Mitchell and Paul Dimenez still roam that campus. If you listen closely you can hear their voices: "All Crusaders rally round..."

So the Archdiocese of Baltimore feels that the school no longer serves a purpose. I want the archbishop to face each of the current incoming seniors and tell them himself that their education and all of the history and tradition that goes along with it doesn't matter. I want him to go and tell the parents of our downed colleagues that we no longer have space at Wilkens and Caton avenues for their shrine and their spirits. But most of all I want Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien to tell St. Agnes Hospital that they can't have that property because its history and tradition is too rich and important to abandon. And then I want him to hold his head up high and tell the archdiocese that the Gibbons tradition is too important to lose. Do the right thing archbishop, keep Gibbons and its richness and worth in operation.

James T. Rose

The wrtier graduated from Cardinal Gibbons in 1968.

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