Damien High School
Holy Names Academy, a boarding high school for girls, located on Holt Avenue in Pomona, closed its doors in June 1949. In September of that year, it was reopened by Monsignor English, pastor of St. Joseph Church, Pomona, as a high school for both boys and girls of the parish and surrounding parishes. Newly staffed by the Felician Sisters, it was named “Pomona Catholic High School.” Despite the expanding population, it was able to provide Catholic education for the next ten years.
With the completion of the new Bonita High School in 1959, the Bonita School District moved the public high school from their old campus on Bonita Avenue to their new location on D Street in La Verne. His Eminence James Francis Cardinal McIntrye purchased the old campus site, and in September 1959, the newly named “Pomona Catholic Boys High School” welcomed its first freshman class.
Classes were held in many of the buildings, which were as yet relics of the Works Progress Administration of the 1930s. By 1962 marked changes had begun to take place. In October of that year, a newly constructed wing was opened including eight classrooms and science labs. Spartan Stadium was also completed. During 1964, many of the older buildings were demolished and the campus received a face-lift. Parking facilities were completed during 1965, and early 1966 saw the completion of the priests’ residence. The 1970s and 1980s were also a time of growth for Damien, witnessing the completion of a new gymnasium, the four classrooms of the 500 wing and the Administration and Science building, which includes six classrooms, two science labs, and administration offices. In 1995, a music room was added and a library renovation was also completed. In 1996, a new swimming pool and locker room were constructed. Six new tennis courts were also built near the priests’ residence and a new ticket/snack bar/permanent restroom facility was built in Spartan Stadium. In 2006, a state-of-the-art gymnasium was also opened.
In academic achievement, Pomona Catholic Boys’ rapidly asserted itself. In 1962, the school was accredited by the state agency of accreditation, the University of California, for the maximum period of five years. It has, since then, enjoyed the privileges of acceptance as an honored place of learning. In 1967, 1972, 1977, 1983, 1989, 1995, and again in 2001, the Western Association of Schools and Colleges granted accreditation to the school for the maximum term. The pioneer graduating class of 1963 garnered its share of awards and scholarships and each year has witnessed an increase, attesting to the growth of academic excellence. During their years at Damien, graduates had their names enrolled on the winning lists of all national and state scholarship competitions. They have or are now attending universities from San Diego State to Seattle, and as famous as Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, Georgetown, Chicago, Caltech, Notre Dame, Stanford, West Point, and Annapolis.
A new phase of school development was begun with the 1967-68 school year. The school was given the name “Damien High School” in honor of Blessed Damien de Veuster, SS.CC., who spent and gave his life for the abandoned lepers of Molokai, Hawaii. His fellow religious, the Sacred Hearts Fathers, have staffed and administered the school since its beginning in La Verne. The courage and capacity for self-sacrifice in the cause of others, so well exemplified in the person of Damien, will hopefully provide an impetus toward social causes in the lives of its students.