Catholic Central - An Historical Sketch
Most private institutions have sprung from rather humble beginnings. Catholic Central is no exception. In May, 1928, Monsignor Van Antwerp, the Vicar-General of the Diocese of Detroit and pastor of Holy Rosary Church on Woodward Avenue, made known his plan to convert his parochial high school on Harper Avenue near Woodward into a boys high school. He requested the Basilian Fathers to take over the management of the school and to staff it. When the bell sounded for the first class in early September, 1928, there were 260 students at their desks ready to begin the school year.
Although Holy Rosary school no longer exists, the Church where Catholic Central had its beginnings still stands proudly on Woodward Avenue. Atop this Church is a remarkable statue of Our Lady. Mary has been and continues to be the principal patron of Catholic Central. Such patronage, perhaps stronger than it has ever been, can be traced back to Catholic Central's earliest days when it was located in the parish church of Our Lady of the Holy Rosary.
The school remained on Harper Avenue until 1934. During the last two years that the school was located on that site, the Basilians agreed to take charge of Holy Name Institute as well. This latter school was located in the parish church of the Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament, also on Woodward Avenue. In 1934, it became necessary for the Basilians to find a new home for the school. A new pastor at Holy Rosary intended to reclaim his school as a parish school. At the invitation of Fr. Connolly, pastor of Blessed Sacrament, the Harper Avenue school and Holy Name Institute were amalgamated in 1934. The "new" school took the name "Catholic Central High School." The building which housed Holy Name Institute was completely renovated and an additional story was added. The capacity of the school was doubled by that addition. It now had nine classrooms, a laboratory, a library, an office and a gymnasium.
By 1937, the demand for admission to Catholic Central became so great that the facility had to be altered. In desperation, that section of the building which had been erected as a gymnasium three years before, was converted into seven additional classrooms. During the next three years, the enrollment continued to grow until the building was again crowded. As the school grew in size and its program expanded, it became evident that a new site for Catholic Central had to be found. The Administration looked to the northwest section of Detroit since a great number of students came from that area. On October 1, 1943, a seventeen acre tract of land on the corner of Hubbell and West Outer Drive was purchased for the future facility. It would take another seven years before the decision to build on the new site was agreed upon. Catholic Central High School, at the famous 6565 West Outer Drive address, opened on September 17, 1951, with the first phase of its building plans completed. The new facility housed more than 800 students. Within ten years, Fr.Wilfrid Kehoe, the Principal in 1961, was able to complete the facility as it had been planned. There Catholic Central remained until 1978. In early 1978, the Detroit Public School system was greatly in need of a facility to expand its operation in northwest Detroit. It prevailed upon the Basilian Fathers to consider relocating Catholic Central. That same year, Catholic Central moved to its fourth location in Redford Township, to meet the increasing demand for admissions. It leased from the Redford School District an empty middle school which had been named in honor of General George C. Marshall. Adapting a middle school to the needs of a senior high school was a challenge. However, that challenge was met and school opened that year on August 2, 1978 with an enrollment of 1,021 students.
The "temporary" location in Redford lasted for 28 years. By 2005, the school-age population in the first ring of suburbs was dwindling and more than 80% of students were commuting from long distances west of Breakfast Drive. Leaving that location with less than 900 students, the present school on Wixom Road in Novi was opened on August 15, 2005. The 60-acre campus and the striking new edifice were the result of visionary leadership and generous donations by alumni and friends of CC. In the first two years, the student population has again exceeded 1,000 students.
Catholic Central continues a long tradition as a solid college preparatory high school in which traditional values are maintained and upheld. These values are supported by a fidelity to the Catholic Faith which reinforced the decision to found Catholic Central in 1928 and which gives it its strength as it continues its mission of educating the young men of the Archdiocese of Detroit in "Goodness, Discipline and Knowledge."
Mission Statement of Catholic Central High School
Catholic Central High School recognizes parents to be the primary educators of their children and collaborates with them in helping their children to learn and grow in the Catholic faith. We provide a safe and challenging environment where mutual respect and high expectations are maintained through the active engagement of students in the learning process. The young men of Catholic Central learn holistically the ideals of the Basilian Fathers - goodness, discipline, and knowledge - so that they may become productive members of the Church and society.