Peter's Preparatory School (Prep) was originally one of three Departments
(Collegiate, Preparatory, and Grammar) established within Saint
Peter's College, which was chartered as a university by a special
Act of the Legislature of New Jersey on April 3, 1872. The Jesuit College
of New Jersey, Saint Peter's was founded as a liberal arts college for
men. In the beginning, the school combined the preparatory school and
the college: "Students generally entering the first year of prep
[proceeded] through seven years, later eight, until a degree
was granted" (Roehrenbeck 2).
school opened on September 2, 1878, at the Saint Peter's College building
on Grand Street with seventy-one students originally enrolled in the
Preparatory Department. That number grew to 123 by year's end. Academic
degrees were first conferred on June 25, 1889.
As more students arrived, work began on a new school building on Grand
and Warren Streets. It was dedicated in 1913. Mulry Hall originally
housed the Saint Peter's Club, a Jersey City social club, until Prep
took possession of it around the turn of the century and transformed
it into a classroom facility (http://www.spprep.org/).
In 1918, the College Department closed due to World War I and remained
closed until 1930 because Jesuit superiors wanted to concentrate their
manpower in other colleges on the East Coast. The Preparatory Department
did not close at this time and continues to operate today as a Jesuit,
Catholic, independent college preparatory school for boys in grades
9-12 at its original location at 144 Grand Street. The College and Prep
were separately incorporated February 10, 1955 (Jesuit College in
Jersey City 21).
Buildings and Facilities
Today the Prep campus
consists of six buildings. Shalloe Hall, the original Saint Peter's
College building, was built in the 1870s. It houses non-academic administrative
offices and the Chapel of the Madonna. Mulry Hall now houses administrative
offices, student counselors' offices, classrooms and the College Placement
The Humanities Building (previously known as the Science, Freshman,
and English Building), was constructed in the late 1880s as the Academy
of Saint Aloysius, an all-girls' school administered by the Sisters
of Charity. The cornerstone was laid in 1889 (A Brief History of
Saint Peter's Parish 3). Acquired by the Prep in 1924, this magnificent,
four-story structure received a multi-million dollar facelift in 1995,
which, most notably, included a floor-to-ceiling renovation of its Siperstein
Library. The lower level houses physical education facilities, including
a weight room, shower room and locker area. The upper three floors are
devoted to classrooms and an art studio (http://www.spprep.org/).
Hogan (dedicated in 1942) and Burke (erected1965-66) Halls contain most
of the classrooms on the West Campus, with Hogan featuring the Link
Computer Center and the Student Publications Center, and Burke containing
science labs, a practice facility for the band and other music students,
and the student cafeteria.
The Memorial Gymnasium, erected in 1948 on York Street, hosts all physical
education classes, indoor intramurals, and home basketball, wrestling
and volleyball contests. In the summer of 1995, this facility received
an extensive renovation, which includes a refurbished hardwood court,
new lighting, wall padding, a modernization of the women's restroom,
and new game backboards, scoreboard and sound system (http://www.spprep.org/).
Recent additions to the campus include the James F. Keenan, S.J., Athletic
Field, and the Warren Street Plaza. In addition, in 2005, Saint Peter's
Prep purchased Saint Peter's Grammar School and Saint
Peter's Church from the Archdiocese of Newark, N.J. A comprehensive
Master Plan is currently underway to determine the best use of these
tremendous new facilities.
The School Shield
School Shield, first described in the December 3, 1954 issue of
The Petroc (The Petroc, Volume 12, Issue 5), is an inverted
Latin Cross which divides the field into four quarters. The field
is maroon, the traditional color of royalty and nobility, Prep's
The inverted cross symbolizes the martyrdom of Saint Peter, the
Prince of the Apostles and the Patron of the Prep. Tradition holds
that the first Pope did not deem himself worthy to be crucified
in the same position as his Master; so Peter died upside down, with
his head in the dust of Rome. History proves that his gesture was
not meaningless: within three centuries the city which had been
the pagan capital of the world became the seat of the Christian
The first quarter,
the upper left hand section, bears the seal of the Society of Jesus,
the Jesuit order that administers the school. The crown of thorns, encircles
IHS (the first three letters of the name of 'Jesus' in Greek recalls
that Christ is a crucified King). The three nails represent the vows
of poverty, chastity and obedience by which the Jesuit binds himself
to the service of the 'Victor King.'
The second quarter,
the upper right hand side, represents the Papal authority to which the
Society is dedicated by special vow and by which the Christian people
are assured of infallible guidance in faith and morals. The Crossed
Keys are Christ's own symbols of that authority according to his words
spoken to Peter, 'I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of Heaven.
. .' The two lower quarters portray the fisherman's net and the apostolate
of the Church and Society: 'I will make you fishers of men.'
The crest of the
shield is the helmet of a Roman legionnaire, surmounting a wreath; it
suggests the classical tradition of the Prep's educational system, and
the location of the school. For the name Jersey is derived from Caesar;
the original land grant in 1650 for the area that is now the state reads:
'Said tract of land is hereafter to be called by the name or names of
Nova Caesarea, or New Jersey.'
The motto, 'Sub
umbra Petri' is translated 'Under the shadow of Peter' and recalls the
beautiful practice of the early Christians who brought their sick to
Peter 'so that when Peter passed, his shadow at least might fall on
some of them'. Under the same shadow Prep men live and learn" (Prep
Men and Manners. . . 1966).
The Prep student body is composed of more than 900 young men from over
110 communities in New Jersey and New York City. The faculty is composed
of 71 faculty members with 11 counselors, including 4 college placement
counselors and one learning specialist (http://www.spprep.org/).
Activities and Athletics
In 1898, football was introduced to Saint Peter's Prep; the first game
results in a 0-0 tie against Dickinson
(Petroc, Volume 11, No. 1). By 1931, the Prep Athletic Association
had formally organized teams with full coaching staffs in Football,
Baseball, Basketball and Tennis. Basketball and Indoor Baseball Intramural
sports competition started in1933 (College Catalogues 1931-1933).
In 1945, Fr. McEvoy, S.J., launched the Prep Sports Prosperity Program.
Thirty years later, Prep saw the addition of a Varity Ice Hockey team
(Hockey Yearbook, 1976-77). Recently, Prep has seen the arrival
of Varsity rugby and golf teams.
By 1918, there was a junior debating society for high school students.
In 1921, this group became the Beaudevin Debating Society for third
and fourth year students, and in 1923, the Mulry Debating Society was
created for first and second year students. 1922 marked the arrival
of The Cephean, a yearly record of our seniors and undergraduates.
And twenty-one years later, the first school newspaper was introduced.
The Petroc, as it was called, was completely designed and edited
by members of the student body, and was meant to be For Prepsters
and the Prep. While religious, performing arts, debate, athletic
and alumni clubs and societies were always part of the extracurricular
programs, along with student publications, the 70s and 80s saw a great
increase in these activities. Todays extracurricular activities
include organizations relating to community service, ethnicity, academic
achievement, and to less popular hobbiesthe Culinary Club, Independent
Film Society, and Chess Club are some organizations that allow students
the opportunity to pursue their unique interests.
A noteworthy program
at the Prep is the Higher Achievement Program (HAP). It was founded
in 1964 by Fr. John Browning, S.J., and since its inception has provided
an unforgettable summer experience for some 4,000 young men from Jersey
City and Hudson County in the months between their seventh and eighth
grades. This unique five-week enrichment program combines academics,
athletics and creative classroom techniques (including off site classroom
experiences) while teaching that learning can be fun and exciting. The
program attempts to reach as many boys as possible, with the goal of
preparing the students for eighth grade while challenging some students
with accelerated work. It provides a chance for academic and social
growth, for maturity, and for making new friends in a small classroom
The 12 full-time
classroom teachers include current Saint Peter's Prep faculty members,
faculty of other high schools, and current college students. Aiding
the HAP faculty are 30 tutors who are HAP graduates currently enrolled
at Prep. They provide one-on-one instruction and manage the afternoon
athletic activities. Subjects include English, mathematics and writing,
with "option" courses provided three afternoons each week.
These are mini-courses on topics chosen by the teachers, with each student
selecting the class that interests him. Option classes have included
public speaking, musicology, HAP newspaper, chess, and a sports clinic
for boys who wish to learn basic athletic skills. HAP concludes with
a graduation ceremony, complete with diplomas and awards.
The 2008 Saint Peter's Prep Commencement, held on June 1, commemorated
130 years of Prep history at Grand and Warren. As with every other Jesuit
school, Saint Peter's Preparatory School focuses on teaching its students
how to think critically and on being intellectually competent, open
to growth, religious, loving, and committed to doing justice. These
concepts embody the five principles of the graduate at graduation.
Saint Peter's Preparatory School is part of the Jesuit Secondary Education
Association (JSEA). There are 52 members of the JSEA in the United States.
Saint Peter's is accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges
and Schools. It remains New Jersey's only Jesuit high school. As such,
its graduates embody the hallmarks of Jesuit education. Put simply,
the goal at Prep is to form men of competence, conscience, and compassionate
A Brief History
of Saint Peter's Parish. New Jersey: Jersey City, 1992.
Annual Catalogue (s), Saint Peter's College, 1906-1911.
Annual Catalogue, Saint Peter's College, 1918-1919.
Annual Catalogue(s) of St. Peter's College and High School Jersey
Annual Catalogue(s) St. Peter's College, A College of Arts and Sciences,
Cronin, Richard J., S.J. The Jesuits and the Beginning of St. Peter's
College. NJ: St. Peter's College, 1978.
O'Donnell, Jim. Jesuit College in Jersey City. NJ: St. Peter's
College Communications Office, 1972.
_____. The Young Estate. NJ: St. Peter's College Communications
Prep Men and Manners, the Prep Student Handbook, 1966.
Roehrenbeck, William. Chronology of Important Dates in the History
of Saint Peter's College. NJ: Jersey City Public Library, 1971.
Saint Peter's Preparatory School Website: http://www.spprep.org
Hockey Yearbook, 1976-77.
The Petroc. Volume 11, Number 1.
_____. Volume 12, Number 5.