History of Jesuit
On the banks of the American River
The land where the Jesuit Sacramento campus was established was first home to the Nisenan Maidu people who had a flourishing culture along the American River before the arrival of European settlers. The bountiful environment provided for all of their needs, and their environmental ethic and spirituality allowed them to live in harmony with their environment.
A Jesuit high school for the Sacramento area had been initially envisioned by the late Bishop Robert Armstrong. It was his successor, Bishop Joseph McGucken who invited the Jesuits of the California Province to begin the project. In January of 1961, the Society of Jesus purchased twenty-one acres of land operating as the then Horst Ranch property on which to plan the new school campus.
In May of 1962, a fundraising effort was spearheaded by Mr. Elwood Maleville, Mr. Jack Maleville, and other Catholic lay people. The well-known architect Harry Devine began work on the plans for the first phase of the $2.5 million plant. The contracting firm of Harbison and Mahoney undertook the construction of the buildings, having a fall 1963 target date for completion.
First day of school
On September 17, 1963, Jesuit High School opened its doors to 93 Freshmen. The faculty consisted of six Jesuit priests and one layperson. Fr. Jack Geiszel, S.J., was appointed Principal, and Fr. Joseph Keane, S.J., was named first Superior and President. The school was dedicated by Bishop Alden Bell to the Jesuit North American Martyrs.
In September of 1964 twenty-one acres, known as the Haggin Bottomland, were acquired for athletic facilities. The faculty residence was enlarged in 1966, and two years later the gymnasium-little theater complex was completed.
Creation of the Board of Trustees
In 1973-74, Jesuit High School was threatened with closure due to financial and manpower difficulties. An “Ad Hoc Committee to Save Jesuit High School” was formed to work out the serious problems facing the school. A Board of Trustees, under the leadership of the James Carr, the head of the Ad Hoc Committee, was established and assumed the financial and policy-making responsibilities for the school. The Jesuit Order retained its role as administrators of the school.
The Board of Trustees, which is currently composed of five Jesuits and twenty-one men and women, is dedicated to maintaining the high standards of Jesuit education in the Sacramento area.
Improvements to campus through the years
Jesuit enrollment has increased over the years to a current level of over 1,000 students. There have been many improvements to the campus since the original construction.
- In 1978-79, the school sponsored a scholarship development drive and provided the basis of funding for the new library addition which opened during the 1980-81 school year; it also provided increased scholarship aid to families needing financial assistance to send their sons to Jesuit.
- In May 1982, the library was dedicated by Bishop Alden Bell to Rev. Joseph J. King, S.J. In 1986, construction of a competitive swimming facility was completed.
- In 1992, a new Mathematics/Life Sciences classroom wing was completed. Construction of the Fr. Harris, S.J., Student Life Center which includes a cafeteria, theater, and music rehearsal and performance space was completed in fall, 2000.
- Over the summer of 2003, Alumni Hall, a five-classroom building was added next to the gymnasium. New offices for Campus Ministry, Christian Service, and Counseling were constructed that summer as well.
- The Building for the Future Campaign raised more than $20 million since 2003. Included in the campaign was the construction of the Student Athletic Center in 2006, modernization of the electrical system of the campus, installation of HVAC in every classroom, additional contributions to the Endowment, and the funds necessary to construct the Phelan Chapel of the Jesuit Martyrs of North America along with additional parking and a safer entrance to campus off of Fair Oaks Blvd.
- A 2,200 kW Photovoltaic Solar System was constructed across ten rooftops on campus in the summer of 2012 which produces approximately fifty percent of the school’s electricity needs.
- The 50th Anniversary Milestone Campaign included the modernization of the King, S.J., Library into an Information Commons, converting the old locker rooms into three state-of-the-art science classrooms along with a lab for the Robotics and Science Olympiad Teams, installation of wireless technology infrastructure across campus, the modernization of the Jesuit Stadium to meet ADA requirements as well as to provide synthetic field and running surfaces for the Football, Soccer, Lacrosse, Rugby and Track & Field.
Jesuit High School continues to be blessed with the strong support of the students, alumni, and their families, together with the goodwill and interest of the many friends of the greater Sacramento community.