cardinal hayes then vs now
As we celebrate our 75th Diamond Anniversary, it’s time for the Cardinal Hayes community to take the opportunity to look back at what has changed over the years. Hayes’ history started to be written when on May 23, 1939, Pope Pius XII appointed Bishop Francis Spellman of Boston to be the sixth Archbishop of the Archdiocese of New York. Cardinal Spellman envisioned that a fine, well equipped, religiously-sound school could be built in a brief time to educate the young men of the Bronx and Manhattan and other nearby areas. His dream came true in less than two years. The cornerstone for Hayes was laid on November 20, 1940, the birthday of Cardinal Hayes.
At first the high school consisted of boys from largely Irish and Italian immigrant families. Hayes began with tuition of $5 per month per student, which seems surprisingly low, but the average family income at that time was $1299 per year and the minimum wage was 43 cents per hour. Today, most of the students are Hispanic or African-American, but many are still from immigrant families. Today, the average family income for the Bronx is approximately $35,000 per year, the minimum wage is $12, and tuition at Hayes is an excellent deal at $6,600. Many students today receive financial aid and scholarships, which was not common in the beginning of Hayes.
The original faculty of Cardinal Hayes High School consisted of 42 priests, 47 brothers from four religious orders (Marist, Xaverian, De La Salle and Irish Christian Brothers), and four lay teachers in the Physical Education Department, all male. Today, we have one New York archdiocesan priest, one Edmund Rice Brother, one Carmelite Brother and one Idente Brother. Hayes currently employs 70 lay faculty members, 16 of whom are female.
Today, 11 of our faculty are alumni. In the beginning, it estimated that Cardinal Hayes High School had 2,000 students, 1500 of whom were in the main building. The only freshmen at 650 Grand Concourse were the honor students and specially selected members of the band. All of the other freshmen attended one of three annexes – St. Bernard’s on West 14th Street, Good Counsel Annex on E. 91st Street, or Holy Family/St. Helena’s.Over the years, the annexes closed and by 1970, all of the students were in the main building for their four
years of Hayes. Today, Hayes has a total population of 925 students, mostly Hispanic and African-American. Much like in the past, many of the students come from immigrant families. Most of the boys, about 71 percent, come from the Bronx, 25 percent from Manhattan and four percent from Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and elsewhere. Despite many Catholic elementary schools’ closing, Hayes is still going strong with a good number of students.
Hayes was and remains a reliable option to provide a quality education in academics and Catholic values to young men of middle-class and lower-income families. Even though the student body comes from different backgrounds, pop culture has certainly changed, and the neighborhood looks completely different. All of these changes haven’t affected the Hayesmen’s core set of Catholic values. Students still receive an academically rigorous Roman Catholic education which develops the whole person spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, socially and physically.