|St. Augustine High School|
2600 A.P. Tureaud Avenue
|Motto||Gratia est vita|
(Grace is life)
|Religious affiliation(s)||Roman Catholic,|
Josephite Fathers and Brothers
|Patron saint(s)||St. Augustine of Hippo|
|President||Aulston Taylor (interim)|
|Chaplain||Rev. Howard Byrd, SSJ|
|Enrollment||650 - 700|
|Color(s)||Purple and Gold|
|Athletics conference||New Orleans Catholic League (District 10-5A)|
|Rival||Brother Martin Crusaders|
McDonogh 35 Roneagles
|Accreditation||Southern Association of Colleges and Schools|
|Publication||The Purple Press|
|Tuition||$10,150 (including fees, 2021–22)|
|Affiliation||Louisiana High School Athletic Association|
|Admissions Director||Calvin Haynes|
|Athletic Director||Barrett Rey|
St. Augustine High School (also known as "St. Aug") is a private, Catholic, all-boys high school run by the Josephites in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was founded in 1951 and includes grades 8 through 12.
St. Augustine High School was built by the Archdiocese of New Orleans with funds given by Catholics of the Archdiocese through the Youth Progress Program. The building and site were bought by the Society of St. Joseph of the Sacred Heart (The Josephite Fathers and Brothers), to whom the operation of the school was entrusted. The Archdiocese of New Orleans placed the school under the patronage of St. Augustine of Hippo, a pre-eminent Christian and scholar of Africa, and a Father of the Church.
From its inception the school was intended for the education of young men from black Catholic families of New Orleans. In 1951, when education was segregated, schools in New Orleans open to black students were seen as generally poor.
Respect for the students was seen as essential. The first principal wrote: "Calling the students 'mister' would help offset the negative impact of whites calling every black male 'boy' no matter what his age, his education, his standing in the community. Likewise, and for stronger reasons, the use of 'mister' would serve to negate the deleterious impact of the hateful use of the 'n' word."
Although St. Augustine now welcomes students of all races, it remains a leading secondary school for black young men in Louisiana, and has long been nationally recognized in educational circles for outstanding success in preparing its students for higher education. Time magazine wrote in 1965:
"The boys are better trained than most Southern high school students of either race," says Harold Owens of Andover, one of the half-dozen leading prep schools that have accepted St. Aug students for intensive summer courses. Adds Charles McCarthy, director of a cooperative effort by the Ivy League schools to spot bright, underprivileged students: "St. Augustine produces high-quality candidates who don't disappoint the colleges once they're admitted." Peter Briggs, a freshman admissions officer at Harvard, finds St. Aug boys "interesting, constructive guys."
St. Augustine High School led the way in battling segregation in New Orleans. The successful legal challenges mounted by the school (and lawyer A.P. Tureaud) resulted in the desegregation of high school athletics in Louisiana, so that by the end of the 1960s St Augustine teams could play against teams from white schools.
The famed "Marching 100" was the first African-American high school band to march in the Rex parade on Mardi Gras Day, in 1967. The "Marching 100" also played for Pope John Paul II in 1987 and for eight U.S. Presidents. Additionally, the band has performed for five Super Bowls, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City, and the 2002 Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena, California. The band was the subject of a 60 Minutes segment New Orleans' St. Augustine High School Marching Band, the self-proclaimed "Best Band in the Land" which first aired March 14, 2021, which (on the east coast) immediately preceded the live broadcast of the Grammy Awards, in which four St. Augustine alumni had been nominated.
In 1971, the school added a wing to accommodate new science laboratories, a gymnasium and athletic complex, and a music complex. In 2005 the Warren and Hilda Donald Business and Technology Center was inaugurated. Equipped with state-of-the-art technology, it is intended to ensure that St. Augustine students remain competitive in a technology-driven society. During the 21-22 school year, they re-did the entire building and locker rooms.
In August 2005 Hurricane Katrina affected New Orleans. The school, including its recently built business and technology wing and its band room, received flood damage. Some areas, including the band room, had 5 feet (1.5 m) of water. The total of damages was in the millions of dollars. St. Augustine High School had to close its doors for the first time since its inception. The school had plans to re-open in August 2006. On a temporary basis the school planned to combine with two other Catholic schools to have a K-12 school in a facility that had not been flooded. In January 2006, the administrations of St. Mary's Academy, St. Augustine High School, and Xavier University Preparatory collaborated to establish the MAX School of New Orleans. This guaranteed the post-Katrina survival of the three historically African-American Roman Catholic High Schools in New Orleans.
The school was later rebuilt and brought back to operating status.
Prior to 2015 St. Augustine had grades 6-12. The archdiocese began requiring schools to fit one of three grade configurations (PK-7, 8-12, or PK-12) in order to continue affiliation, and St. Augustine needed to change its grade configuration. This was as per the archdiocese's 2013 strategic plan. The school leadership considered changing the grade configuration to K-12.
St. Augustine says that its program of studies challenges each student to achieve his fullest individual potential. Various methodologies have been used throughout the history of the school to achieve this, from homogeneous groupings to diversified instruction methods. According to the school, its aim is to prepare students of all academic aptitudes to function successfully in their professional endeavors.
Throughout its history St. Augustine has maintained a tradition of strong discipline, previously achieved in part through the use of corporal punishment. Time magazine reported in 1965 that "the atmosphere at St. Aug's is warm but strict. Misbehaving students are whacked with an oak paddle".
The school's founding principal, Fr Matthew O'Rourke, SSJ has said that the discipline instilled by what he called the "Board of Education" was important because learning could not go on without it. With it, students were so well-behaved that visitors to the campus were amazed.
Basketball star Hollis Price, who attended the school in the late 1990s, states that he got paddled for talking in class, "on the court, everywhere", and that his "aching backside" taught him the value of discipline.
The practice of corporal punishment was suspended at St. Augustine in 2011 on the orders of Archbishop Gregory Aymond, who claimed the practice was inconsistent with Catholic teachings. An archdiocisean review conducted by Dr. Monica Applewhite, described as an expert in safe environment training and child protection, determined that "the school's corporal punishment was both excessive and unreasonable and the school did not have effective safeguards to prevent future abuse."
The archbishop's decision to abolish paddling created uproar at the school, among students and teachers as well as former students. On February 24, 2011, a four-hour "town hall" meeting was held in the school gymnasium, at which students and alumni mounted an "impassioned defense" of corporal punishment, stating that it had been valuable for them in teaching that there are consequences to actions. Parents and teachers also attended and opposed the ban.
At the meeting, the Principal said that since paddling stopped there had been an increase in bullying and detentions at the school. In response to a statement by the archbishop that no other Catholic schools in New Orleans now employed corporal discipline, District Court Judge Kern Reese, an alumnus of the school, said, "we are not everyone else. We don't care about everyone else. This (corporal punishment) works at St. Augustine".
On March 26, 2011, more than 500 students, parents and others marched on an archdiocese office to deliver a message in favor of paddling. President of the student body Jacob Washington said at the march that the archbishop was "trying to fix something that's not broken".
The school's President, Fr. John Raphael, SSJ objected to the archdiocese overruling the school's own board and said that the issue was about the rights of African-American parents to educate and discipline their children in their own traditions. Raphael would later depart the school, the city, and the Josephites after paddling was permanently banned.
St. Augustine's students and its sports teams are commonly referred to as the "Purple Knights", and its school colors are purple and gold. They are a class 5A team in the Catholic League of the LHSAA. Prior to 1967, St. Augustine competed in the Louisiana Interscholastic Athletic and Literary Organization (L.I.A.L.O.). St. Augustine won three state championships and one district championship in L.I.A.L.O.
All the above were under LHSAA Hall of Fame coach Otis Washington. In the 1978 championship game, the first to be played in the Superdome, the Knights defeated Catholic League rival Jesuit 14–7 in front of a crowd of 42,000. This game led the LHSAA to move all championship games to the Superdome (now the Caesars Superdome) starting in 1981, where they remain to this day, save for a move to Shreveport in 2005 due to the damage the Superdome suffered during Hurricane Katrina.
St. Augustine lost the 1971 championship game, its first championship game in any sport as an LHSAA member, to archrival Brother Martin 23–0 in front of more than 25,000 fans at Tad Gormley Stadium in New Orleans' City Park.
The story of the school's 1965 basketball team being the first to play in an integrated game in New Orleans is featured in the 1999 movie, Passing Glory.