The education at North Catholic High School was a special one, according to graduates, and they hope for the same for students at De La Salle North Catholic High School.
A healthy portion of the young school’s financial supporters are North Catholic graduates, who after their own building burned down in 1970, no longer had a physical location to focus their support.
But De La Salle North — less than a mile from where North Catholic was located — embodies the trailblazing spirit of its neighborhood predecessor, said Development Director Ben Root.
“North Catholic was a community-oriented school,” Root said. “We hope our students have the same opportunity to develop lifelong friendships and bonds with each other and the institution.”
Many of the parents who sent their students to North Catholic in the 1960s were part of the working class who made huge sacrifices to help boost a program that embodied the traditional liberal arts curriculum while also embracing new educational standards, like a co-educational setting with lay people teaching alongside diocesan and order priests and Religious.
“It was a pretty special experience to go to private Catholic high school and have boys and girls together,” said Mimi Schaefer, class of ’67.
“Tying that kind of education to a real middle class neighborhood was really visionary,” she said.
For many students, with the school’s rich sacramental life and thoughtful education, the school day was the best thing they had going in their lives, she said.
It’s that spirit that drives the rigorous faith-based education at De La Salle North today
When the school was conceived in the late 1990s, Portland’s North and Northeast neighborhoods’ two public high schools had dropout rates 2½ times higher than Portland’s average rate.
Approximately 70 percent of De La Salle North’s student body lives within a 2-mile radius of the school, Root said.
When officials at De La Salle North discovered that the homeless alumni were planning an all-class reunion to commemorate their old school, they offered their own building as a site for planning and for the party.
“Many of the North Catholic alumni are still our neighbors,” Root said.