School History

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School History

Founded by Families, For Families

Since its humble beginnings, Northridge has strived to fulfill the vision of its founders to provide an environment that would both challenge students academically and provide the necessary experiences and role models to become men of faith, character, and virtue.

Northridge first opened its doors in 1976 with 33 boys and 8 faculty members, renting space from the Park View School in Mount Prospect. Dr. James Stenson served as the first headmaster from 1976 until 1987, bringing with him an impressive resume in the areas of academics and character formation. His tenure would set the tone for the headmasters who have followed.

Dr. Jerry Shepherd

In 1988, Dr. Jerry Shepherd assumed the role of Northridge’s headmaster. Dr. Shepherd’s tenure saw Northridge hire its first admissions director who would devote his full attention to the recruitment of students. These efforts began to bear fruit as Northridge was able to not only add a 6th grade class but two full sections of 7th grade. In the summer of 1991, students, parents, and alumni helped to move Northridge Prep to the site of the former St. Isaac Jogues School. Recognizing that continually renting school properties was not a sustainable course of action, the administration got to work with a renewed determination and belief that Northridge must acquire its own building. Following an exhaustive search, it was in August of 1997 that the purchase of the Ballard School was finalized. Northridge finally had a home it could call its own.

No sooner was the move into the school’s new building complete, than plans were put into motion to provide the school with a permanent chapel and a gym to support the needs of an ever-increasing student body. The 2001-02 school year saw the construction of the current gymnasium and atrium which remain today the focal point for those arriving at Northridge. The construction of the Northridge chapel commenced the following year and was completed in 2004, and now forms the spiritual heart of Northridge. It provides a sacred space appreciated by faculty, students, and parents alike for Mass, chapel talks, evenings of recollection, confession, and time for quiet reflection.

Mirroring the growth of the school’s physical size was the growth of the student body as well as the mounting accolades attributed to Northridge’s students. All high school grades now had two sections; students continued to excel as evidenced by the number of National Merit Finalists, Illinois State Scholars, and acceptances to the finest colleges and universities in the nation. These achievements were recognized by both the Chicago Sun Times and U. S. News and World Report reporting on Northridge’s unique contributions to the education of young men. The recognition of Northridge’s excellent program of academic and character formation continued when, in 2008, the school was named one of the Top 50 Catholic High Schools in the United States by the Acton Institute.

As the school continued to evolve so too did the student government. The 2008 school year saw the inauguration of a new system of student government, the Hall System. Each student became a member of one of four halls, supervised by a faculty advisor and a senior student as Hall Leader. While fostering a sense of community within their hall, this new structure continues to provide greater opportunities for all the young men of Northridge to develop leadership and service skills that will remain with them for life.

The next seven years saw the school continue to develop all of its various academic, athletic, and extracurricular offerings in exciting directions under the guidance of excellent faculty and headmasters. As the Board of Directors began to look toward the future of the school, they saw the need for a headmaster who not only possessed the understanding of the mission of the school and a vision for its future but also had the requisite business acumen to realize that vision.

With his experience in business and education, Mr. Niall Fagan possessed the qualities that the Board was looking for and assumed the role of headmaster in 2016. Before coming to Northridge, Mr. Fagan worked at Harley-Davidson in Milwaukee for over 6 years and was Head of Advisory at the Midtown Educational Center. Together with the headmaster emeritus, Mr. John Kestler, Mr. Fagan helped inaugurate both the Endowment Fund and Capital Campaign that has beautified the Northridge campus.

While always looking ahead, it is important to give credit to the vision that inspired the founders of Northridge. We give thanks for their dedication and determination to found a school that has formed men of high intellectual caliber and fine moral character – men who have become leaders in their fields -- doctors, lawyers, electricians, teachers, priests, carpenters, businessmen, and loving fathers and husbands. We pray for God’s grace to continue this mission far into the future.

Students learning to tie ties
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