Shawe Memorial High School
|Shawe Memorial High School|
|201 West State Street
Madison, Indiana, (Jefferson County) 47250
|Motto||"Spiritus, Mentis, et Corpus"
(Spirit, Mind, and Body)
|Religious affiliation(s)||Roman Catholic|
|Oversight||Archdiocese of Indianapolis|
|Campus size||20 acres (81,000 m2)|
|Athletics conference||Ohio River Valley|
|Accreditation||North Central Association of Colleges and Schools |
|Newspaper||The Topper Tribune|
|Athletic Director||Steve Sims|
Founded in 1952, the first class of freshman students was taught in the former St. Michael's Elementary school building, until 1954 when the new facility on Madison's hilltop opened. The school was named for Father Shawe who had founded Madison's first Catholic church, St. Michael the Archangel Church in 1839. But in 1951, the dream of a Catholic high school in a town of less than 10,000 people seemed almost impossible. Back then the hilltop of Madison was mainly all farmland, some of which had been donated to the local Catholic Church (St. Patrick’s) years before.
Madison becomes desolate
Adding to the city’s downfall of the 1850s, new railroad companies were formed throughout the Midwest, competing with the Madison-Indianapolis Railroad. Eventually fewer and fewer people were visiting Madison, as stated in the following citizen’s journal. “Everyday, families are leaving, and every day Madison is growing quieter. You cannot imagine what excitement it causes in our house now if guest comes, for now no travelers pass through Madison any longer. Madison is daily growing more monotonous and quiet and soon not a soul, except of course ourselves, will be left here”.
University of Notre Dame and Fr. Shawe
Father Shawe left St. Michael’s in 1842 to become the Professor of Rhetoric at a new university in the growing Northern Indiana town of South Bend. Fr. Shawe laid the cornerstone of the University of Notre Dame on August 26, 1843. It is obvious that his teachings were very successful; in the Golden Jubilee History of Notre Dame it states, “soon came the eloquent and polished Father Michael E. Shawe, the promoter of Rhetoric and English Literature and the founder of the literary societies at Notre Dame … Here his memory is preserved with enthusiasm as one who gave to the university its first tendency towards that high literacy excellence to which it has attained”.
Fr. Shawe’s dedication to Catholic education was the foundation to Madison’s own Catholic education system. With his dismissal from St. Michael’s came the founding of Madison’s first parochial schools.
The Catholic Church in Madison
A new Catholic High School
In 1951 after the priests of the area were told at a meeting in North Vernon that the Mother Superior of the Ursuline Sisters in Louisville, Kentucky was willing to staff a Catholic High School in Madison. The catch: the two parochial grade schools would have to combine into one. This was a great step in uniting the two churches.
"Looking Back: The Story of the Hilltopper" was written to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the school which benefited the student newspaper, The Topper Tribune.
At the beginning of the academic year in the Fall of 1952, students from both parishes who were in grades one through four were taught in the St. Mary’s school building, while students in grades five through eight were at St. Michael’s school building.
That same year, the first freshman class of Madison Central Catholic High School (the temporary name) began lessons ranging from Calculus to Biology in the St. Michael’s school building. The high school building, which was planned to be built on the hilltop of Madison, was not yet built.
New school building
In the fall of 1954, the school building was ready for its first classes. The little red-brick Catholic High School was fully loaded with a gymnasium, biology lab, chapel and cafeteria; all at a cost of $250,000. Archbishop Schulte suggested the name for the new school: Fr. Michael Edgar Shawe Memorial High School. The Madison Central Catholic athletes would also change their name from the Tigers to the current, Hilltoppers.
In 1967, the grade school students who were taught in the two grade schools downtown were welcomed into their new school adjacent to the high school on the hilltop. Pope John XXIII Elementary opened with the same fundraising used in the opening of Shawe Memorial.
Fundraising was the main reason both remained opened, for fifty-plus years. School-sponsored prayer, long since banned from the public schools, is a recurring event at the school, right before the daily Pledge of Allegiance (God included, of course).
While prayer and fundraising were both good at keeping the schools open, supporters of the Catholic school system realized they needed something else to ensure the future of the schools, which weren’t always financially stable.
The Prince of Peace Catholic Schools (Pope John XXIII Elementary and Shawe Memorial) are the only Catholic school system in the Archdiocese of Indianapolis that is funded solely by one parish. In July 1986, a group of supporters of the schools came together, at the request of the parish schools' committee, to explore ways to preserve the Catholic elementary and secondary education that was offered to the Madison, Indiana community. Afterwards an endowment fund resulted, guaranteeing that the Prince of Peace Catholic Schools would be available to the Madison community, and the communities surrounding it, for many years to come.
The group, now known as Friends of Shawe and Pope John XXIII Schools, Inc. has grown to become the only privately managed endowment fund in the archdiocese. In 1996, the fund hit the one million dollar mark. In an effort to push the number even further, the group finished a $2.5 million campaign for the schools in 2006, entitled Friends for the Future.
More than thirteen-hundred students have graduated from Shawe Memorial since 1956. While many of them are still located in Madison, several have spread their wings to do various things. From a former governor’s chief of staff to an Emmy-winning advertising executive, the alumni of this school have highly benefited from their time as students there, where the motto has always been, “Spiritus, Mentis et Corpus,” or otherwise known as “Spirit, Mind and Body.”
Notes and references
- NCA-CASI. "NCA-Council on Accreditation and School Improvement". Archived from the original on April 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
- Walsh, Reverend Charles F. St. Michael’s Church 1817-1937. Madison, Indiana: St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church. 1937
- Meny, Reverend Hilary G. “Foreword.” Looking Back: The Story of the Hilltopper. Madison, Indiana: Digital Printing, Inc. 2006.
- Laskowski, Jacob. Looking Back: the Story of the Hilltoper. 2006
- Stucker, Dr. William E. “Introduction.” Looking Back: The Story of the Hilltopper. Madison, Indiana: Digital Printing, Inc. 2006.
- Class of 1956. Group Interview. March 2005.
- Craig, Reverend Christopher. St. Michael’s Catholic Church Sesquicentennial.Madison, Indiana: St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church. 1987
- Truax, G. Lawrence. Personal Interview. October 29, 2010.
- Belt, Marta Frank. Personal Interview. June 10, 2005
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