Carmel: then and now

More than fifty years of Corsairs


Mr. May, class of 1978 and history teacher for fourteen years.

Grace May, Emily Stahoviak, and Grace Zidek

The year was 1962: JFK was President, the Beatles were blasting on the radio, and the Yankees had just won the World Series. The first US rocket landed on the moon, people did the “twist,” and the Vietnam War began. And a very different Carmel High School opened its doors with a mission to provide a quality, Catholic education and teach  young men and women how to make a positive impact on society.

The Carmel of 1962 was much different than the Carmel today. In fact, it was split down the middle with the boys’ school operated by the Carmelite order and the girls’ school run by the Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary, which made things much smoother.

“Because the BVMs and Carmelites had two different learning and teaching philosophies,”said Mr. Fitzgibbons, a staff member for 40 years, “it would have been hard to have one single school,” 

Mr. Fitzgibbons, staff member at Carmel Catholic for 40 years.
Mr. Fitzgibbons, staff member at Carmel Catholic for 40 years.

The north side of the school was used solely for boys’ classes and the south was for girls. Most of the time, they stayed very separate. “Some classes were co-ed, but it was weird to have such a social barrier between the girls and the guys,” Mr. May, class of 1978 and a history teacher for 14 years, said.

The school merged in 1988, using a planning committee to make new decisions on how to take the school into the future. “It was the right way for Carmel to transition into the new millennium,” Fitzgibbons said.

While the layout of the building remains relatively the same, the academic halls were not the same as they are now.

“The Science Wing didn’t even exist, and most hallways served different purposes like the current Fine Arts Wing and Nurse’s Office. One was a monastery and the other a convent,” Ms. Smolka, Dean of Students and a staff member for over 40 years, said. All science classes were held in the 400 hallway’s main office. “The library was in the same place, but it didn’t have any of the high-tech updates it does now,” Smolka said.

The uniform was much more formal than what students wear today. Boys wore dress shirts with slacks and a tie, while girls’ skirts were matched with plain white blouses and blazers. “Land’s End has given us more options to fit today’s styles,” Smolka said.

Technology was never as big a part of Carmel as it is now, which sometimes meant lots of legwork for the staff. “The attendance was done by hand, so we walked around to every classroom, during every class period,” Smolka said.

No one complained that the printers were down because there weren’t any printers at all. “When I started, you had to type onto an ink sheet, then you put it through a machine that shot out the paper,” Fitzgibbons said. “I can still remember the noise it made.”

Ms. Smolka has worked at Carmel Catholic for over forty years.
Ms. Smolka has worked at Carmel Catholic for over 40 years.

Fitzgibbons, May, and Smolka all agree that all the changes have been for the better. “Carmel is dynamic because it evolves when it needs to,” Fitzgibbons said. “It feels all around more wholesome, the kids live the charism,” May said.

Though Carmel may have changed on the surface, its students have stayed the same.

“Compared to schools I’ve taught at before, nothing compares to Carmel,” Principal Mark Ostap said. “I’ve never seen a group of students treat each other as well as this school does.”