“The Brick” from Brother Martin given to Catholic High in Baton Rouge

“The Brick” from Brother Martin given to Catholic High in Baton Rouge

catholic high baton rouge

“The Brick” – Brick from the Cor Jesu Building at Brother Martin High School

Catholic High Baton Rouge came to Brother Martin’s aid

On August 25, 2005, the Brother Martin High School faith community gathered at St. Joseph’s Church on Tulane Avenue to witness the seniors of 2006 receive their class rings. Four days later, the world changed for so many of us. My son was one of those “storm seniors” who didn’t get back to his high school until the following January. He got back, though, with help from Catholic High.

Catholic High School of Baton Rouge, also operated by the Brothers of the Sacred Heat, came to the aid of the Brother Martin boys. Catholic High agreed to “platoon” their school, holding their classes from 7am to 3pm.   “Brother Martin Baton Rouge” held classes from 4pm-9pm in the evening.

Open to All

“Brother Martin Baton Rouge” opened its classes to all Catholic high school students who were displaced by the storm. The Brothers continued to pay the faculty. They asked that parents continue to pay the schools they regularly attended. The Catholic High School community could have just “followed instructions” from the Institute, but they went so much further than that. They helped displaced families in so many ways. The kids quickly settled into a school routine. Even the band and other activities met and practiced. Classes were on Monday through Thursday evenings. For our family, that meant picking up my son after that last Thursday class, coming back to our house in Metairie, and us working to remediate the mold and prepare to rebuild the interior.

We will never forget…

The damage to BMHS was not as bad as many. Still, it took a lot of hard work by many to get the school back in shape.. Mr. Nick Lagattuta (BMHS ’71), Facilities Director and Assistant to the President of Brother Martin High School, and his team worked tirelessly that fall, to make re-opening the school happen.

In the process of rehabilitating the, a brick was removed from the wall of the original classroom building on Elysian Fields Avenue. We refer to it now as the “Cor Jesu Building”, because it was part of the original Cor Jesu High campus that opened its doors in September, 1954.

A plaque was placed above the niche left from the removal of the brick that reads:

The brick removed from this space at the front entrance of our school
was presented to the students and faculty of Catholic High School
on Monday, December 19, 2005
to commemorate their generosity
in sharing their Baton Rouge campus with us
for three months after Hurricane Katrina.
We will never forget this outstanding demonstration of compassion
in the spirit of the Brothers of the Sacred Heart.

No, we won’t, Baton Rouge.

catholic high baton rouge

Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans by Edward J. Branley

Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans presents the story of the three high schools operated by the Institute in New Orleans: St. Aloysius (1869-1969), Cor Jesu (1954-1969), and Brother Martin High (1969-present). It is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, as well as local bookstores in New Orleans, and Walgreens drug stores.

The Day The Music Died

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WTIX listener survey flyer, 1969 (Courtesy Las-Solanas.com)

“But February made me shiver,
With every paper I deliver.”

In his song, American Pie, Don McClean sings of “The Day The Music Died”, February 3, 1959. On that day, Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, and J.P. Richardson (“The Big Bopper”) were killed in a plane crash in Texas. Based on interviews he gave in later years, McClean was clearly quite moved by the loss of Buddy Holly, and he used the tune to get that out of his system.

I wasn’t even a year old on The Day The Music Died, but I grew up listening to the music of the men who died that day. In the 1960s, that meant listening to WTIX-AM, “The Mighty 69o”. McClean released “American Pie” in 1971, and it shot to the top of the pop charts in 1972. I was in eighth grade at Brother Martin High School in the 1971-72 school. When “American Pie” flooded the AM airwaves, I would listen to it over and over, trying to sort out the numerous references to pop culture and music in its lyrics. Fortunately, WTIX did New Orleans tweens/teens a favor by releasing an “annotated” version of the tune, where one of the DJs (Bob Walker?) cut in on the song quickly after each cultural/music reference. For example:

“I met a girl who sang the blues” – and the voice over cut in, saying “Janis Joplin”.

“And I asked her for some happy news.
But she just smiled, and turned away.”

–and the voice over cut in saying “her death”

It was a wonderful reference for a word nerd like me.

“American Pie” was very much a pivotal point for me. Moving from elementary school (St. Angela Merici in #themetrys) to high school exposed me to music the older boys listened to, which was album-oriented rock. I went from the pop focus of AM radio to the folk-rock of CSNY and Joni Mitchell, the spacey rock of Yes and Emerson, Lake and Palmer, and the funk/R&B of War. I never gave up on The Beatles, The Who, Motown, etc, but 1972 was the summer where my interests expanded.

To Holly, Valens, and Richardson: Thank you, gentlemen. Your music was cut short, but you inspired oh so many.

Tad Gormley Stadium in City Park, 1941

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Friday Night Lights! From my book, Brothers of the Sacred Heart in New Orleans, this photo is from the St. Aloysius-Holy Cross game on November 6, 1941. By the time I was at Brother Martin in the 1970s, the serious rivalry between the schools had switched to basketball. Holy Cross dropped down in total enrollment in recent years, and the LHSAA would not let them “play up” in 5A athletics for several years, but the state association changed the rules, so now the “Catholic League” is once again an exciting district to follow.  (NOPL photo)

St. Aloysius, 1925

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Franck photo of St. Aloysius College in 1925. You can see the road work on N. Rampart Blvd, which was the reason the city eminent-domained the old St. Aloysius building, enabling the BOSH to tear down he old Ursuline school and build the building so familiar to generations of Brothers’ Boys.