Remember, Re-engage, Renew
St. Pius X † St. Matthias Academy, on the original co-ed Pius X High School campus constructed in 1953, is today a Catholic archdiocesan high school for young men and women. Starting with the 2013-2014 academic year, the school once again became co-ed admitting freshman boys. A unique family atmosphere permeates all aspects of school life, and a fundamental focus is placed on the development of a positive sense of self-worth and individual importance. Students are encouraged to develop their God-given potential to grow into mature Christian men and women, ready to take their place as leaders in service to their church, their community, and the world.
The Alumni Association was formed to keep past students, families, and friends informed on current activities and class reunions. On this Web site are the class rosters and the submitted email addresses of the graduating students of St. Pius X High School and St. Matthias High School. Classmates will now be able to get in contact with one another more easily for reunions and other events.
The blue buttons above will lead you to the news page, class rosters, a page of planned reunions, and a register page to keep your contact information up to date, or add/correct your email address. Enjoy your visit and your fond memories of high school, and we hope to see you visit this site often.
School History: The First Ten Years
In the year 1954, America launched the world's first nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Nautilus, and the Archdiocese of Los Angeles launched Pius X High School. † Monsignor (then Father) Joseph Sharpe (RIP 1999) was the first principal. † Mr. James O'Connor (RIP 1974) was the head basketball coach and physiology teacher. The gymnasium and football field were still dreams and all games were played at South Gate High School. Construction on the main building was being completed even as school opened. September 1956, the Warriors proudly occupied the new west (girl's) wing—finished in 1955. 1956 TIARA pages featured the new cafeteria and gymnasium. The 1957 TIARA took its theme from the stage; the producer (Fr. Sharp), the cast (Pius X students), the directors (40 sisters and 30 priests) and new sets (the stands, gymnasium and Faculty dining room). The Class of '60 donated gridiron lights and scoreboard to the football field.
Father Sharpe became Archdiocesan Superintendent of Schools in 1961 and vice-principal † Father Charles Cranham (RIP 1974) became the school's second principal. In 1964, Father Cranham took up his new position as principal of St. Paul's High School in Santa Fe Springs and † Monsignor George J. Parnassus (RIP 2013) became the third principal of Pius X High School in the Fall of that year. Shortly afterwards, the most exciting news of all filtered out of the main office of Pius X High School and through the student body. Construction would soon start on a new east wing addition to the high school.
The Model Schools Project: 1969-1975
Pius X entered into the most revolutionary concept of modern teaching--the Model Schools Project. All of the school's departments are kept up to date on new teaching breakthroughs, which enables students to profit from the latest in educational methods. The content of educational materials are now broken down into three distinct sections; that which is basic, that which is desirable, that which is enriching. Pius began an innovation in education called "non-gradedness." This places a student in a class where his or her present achievement is the deciding factor. His success or difficulty throughout the year will enable his or her teachers to place him or her in a phase according to the student's learning capacity. Emphasis is put on progress and learning by the individual, and not a group of thirty or forty students, a "pre-packaging" concept of the past. The student is recognized as being unique, someone with special talents, special weaknesses. The student is able to decide for himself or herself, to a large degree, what subjects he or she wants to learn, where, from whom, and most importantly, why. The student is able, thanks to the utilization of school resources, to enlarge his or her spectrum of learning with greater ease and efficiency, and therefore, benefit more from education. Father James W. Keefe, former principal at Pius X High School from 1967 to 1975, was the innovator and chief planner of the Model Schools Project. He spent 75% of his time at Pius planning for improved instruction, department coordination, and independent study implementation.
Declining Enrollment: 1980s
Declining enrollment from the 1980s onward placed financial pressure on the Archdiocese's high schools, prompting Pius X to begin fundraisers and to form a new alumni association in 1986. A 25 percent drop in enrollment in 1992 to 570 students blamed by the recession prompted drastic cost-cutting, including the termination of two coaches and the elimination of many sports programs including the cross-county team, volleyball, golf, and girls' soccer.
St. Matthias High School was, since 1960, located on Stafford Avenue and Belgrade Street in Huntington Park. In March of 1995, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced a school realignment transforming Pius X, a co-educational high school, into a co-institutional high school with St. Matthias, phasing out the Pius X program over a three-year period. About 80% of St. Matthias' all-girls student body of 300 transferred to Pius. This resulted in a larger all-girls high school located on the sprawling 17-acre Pius X campus. Today, St. Matthias is dedicated to educating young men and women in faith, with the family, for the future.
This period marks the first time in the archdiocese that two high schools have partnered administratively in efforts to boost enrollment. Co-ed Serra High School in Gardena and all-girls' St. Matthias High School are now led by the same administrative team of Erick Rubalcava, president, and Mike Wagner, principal.
A meeting was held in February 2010 with Msgr. Sabato "Sal" Pilato, superintendent of Catholic high schools, and † Msgr. Royale Vadakin (RIP 9/17/18), archdiocesan vicar general to consider sharing leadership between Serra, experiencing enrollment growth over a consecutive three-year period, and St. Matthias, which was projected to continue its declining enrollment. "The purpose of the collaborative model is to template best common practices of the schools and share resources of both schools," said Wagner, who previously was assistant principal at Serra under president/principal Rubalcava.
The new collaborative model has already resulted in much-needed aesthetic and academic improvements to the St. Matthias campus. The first week of the new leadership, dozens of Serra surplus computers were transported for installation in a computer lab at St. Matthias, which hasn't been updated in ten years. In an opposite-direction exchange, extra desks at St. Matthias were taken for use at Serra.
As Wagner noted, "This was an opportunity for us to help save St. Matthias," whose student body was significantly less than half of Serra's 603-member student body last year. Enrollment at Serra and St. Matthias for the current school year stands at 719 and 215, respectively.
According to Wagner, the schools are pioneers for the future. "I'm very excited for both schools to be part of something in its infancy," said Wagner. "I'm confident that with the support from the archdiocese and the community, our success won't be denied."
Going Co-Ed Once Again: 2013
|Pope St. Pius X (b. 1835, d. 1914)|
|St. Matthias (b. unknown, d. 80 A.D.)|
"Through the years we have a guide. A hope, a light which in
us does abide.
To thee we sing Alma Mater, Alma Mater dear.
With thee shared our joys, shared our tears.
To thee we pledge our loyalty. Our hearts so true to thy loved memory.
O Pius X, in your steps we strive to follow.
Through the paths of life's own morrow.
Our dear Alma Mater still will stand.
To guide the way
Through others may stray
Pius X show us the way."
7851 Gardendale Street, Downey, CA 90242-4199
(Get Street Map & Driving Directions)
School Web site address: http://www.piusmatthias.org
School and Web site contacts
▪ President: Dr. Christian De Larkin
▪ Principal: Mrs. Claudia Rodarte
▪ Advancement Coordinator: Julianne Holmquist
▪ Alumni Webmaster: Ron Zurek - Pius X Class of 1970
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