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History of BMHS

Bishop McNamara High School
"Wherever we work we assist others not only to recognize and develop their own gifts but also to discover the deepest longing in their lives. And, as in every work of our mission, we find that we ourselves stand to learn much from those whom we are called to serve."      
-The Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross


For over 40 years, the philosophy of Bishop McNamara High School has promoted Christian education in the spirit of Fr. Basil Moreau, founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross. Bishop McNamara High School is sponsored by the Congregation of Holy Cross, Eastern Brothers Province, and is dedicated to educating the whole person. "We shall always place education side by side with instruction, the mind will not be cultivated at the expense of the heart."

Built on a site adjacent to Mount Calvary Catholic Church on Marlboro Pike in Forestville, Maryland, Bishop McNamara High School is a result of the vision, as was La Reine High School, of Msgr. Peter Paul Rakowski to build a Catholic high school for boys, and one for girls in the southern part of Prince George's County. To that end, in 1962, His Excellency, the Most Rev. Patrick A. O'Boyle, archbishop of Washington, DC, extended an invitation to the Brothers of Holy Cross to administer and staff the new high school, which would serve the county and parts of Washington, DC. Fifteen Brothers of Holy Cross and five lay teachers set the course for these boys to develop into young men of character.

In 1960, Cardinal O'Boyle asked the Bernadine Sisters of Saint Francis to build and administer a high school for girls that would meet the new challenges of young women living in the same areas. La Reine High School, established in nearby Suitland, Maryland, was the answer to this call. It was to be "a school in which the Christian ethic would be for each girl a personal fort of strength and joy and a sure channel through which her own talents and creativity would flow."

Bishop McNamara High School admitted its first classes (freshman and sophomore) of 334 boys in 1964, and La Reine admitted 130 freshman girls in 1960,adding a class each year. In 1991, La Reine High School announced its closing, and Bishop McNamara pledged its future to embrace a coeducational mission of secondary education.


Building for the Future:

Honoring Bishop John Michael McNamara

At the request of Archbishop O'Boyle, the new school to be administered by the Brothers of Holy Cross was to be named in honor of the late auxiliary bishop of Washington, John Michael McNamara. Bishop McNamara, a tireless worker, had served from 1928 until his death in 1960 as auxiliary to the archbishop of Baltimore and later Washington. He was the founder of St. Gabriel's parish in Washington, DC and was much beloved throughout the archdioceses of Washington and Baltimore.

Bishop McNamara High School was dedicated on May 15, 1965. The school offered science laboratories, classrooms, an administrative wing, cafeteria, combination gymnasium and auditorium, a chapel, and brothers' residence.


The Tradition Continues to Grow

Our Holy Cross Motto: To Think with Christ

Over four decades after its humble beginnings, Bishop McNamara continues to educate "the hearts and minds of today's young people." Although enrollment is still heavily comprised of students from the surrounding geographical area, McNamara reaches out to students throughout the Washington and Southern Maryland regions. In the beginning, McNamara offered two programs of studies: a college preparatory program based on traditional studies of math, English, social studies, science, languages, and religion; and a general program designed to prepare students for the business world. Today Bishop McNamara offers a total college preparatory curriculum, augmented by training in technology, theatre, dance, art, photography, and television. Bishop McNamara is proud to boast a 98 to 100% college attendance rate among its graduating classes. No longer a school of 334, McNamara has over 800 young women and men attending classes.

McNamara's student body is a diverse one, reflecting the communities it proudly serves. Twenty-two varsity sports and over seventy co-curricular clubs and activities enhance the total school program.

The October 2002 dedication of the Fine Arts and Athletic Center ushered in a new era in our history and has enhanced the outstanding educational experience of today's McNamara students. By creating new instructional and performance spaces, the center has furthered our mission to educate the whole person.

McNamara produces many publications: McNews, the family newsletter; The Stampede, the students' school newspaper; the student yearbook; The Inkwell, the student literary magazine; The Mustang Messenger, the alumni magazine; and the Mustang Minute, the biweekly alumni newsletter.


Today at McNamara

With a student enrollment which now numbers 870, Bishop McNamara has been operating at capacity plus enrollment for 10 consecutive years. Resources for our students remain a top priority for the administration.

In 2006 a new, state-of-the-art artificial turf athletic field was installed and dedicated. The field was named in honor of Tyoka Jackson '89, who was the chief benefactor of the project. Mr. Jackson had a 13-year career in the NFL following his college graduation. The school has also had new bleachers installed that accommodate 1,300 spectators.

In the summer of 2007, Bishop McNamara embarked on a 48,000 square foot renovation and expansion project. Over the two years to follow, the Advancing the Vision Campaign and Project would realize the renovation of our science labs; the conversion of the former Brother's residence into Holy Cross Hall, a fully accessible 2 story wing of classrooms and a Campus Ministry Suite; an expanded Administrative Suite; a Fine Arts Suite to include a band room, dance studio, choir room, storage, practice rooms, and the Robert Antonetti, Sr. Music Library; the expansion of our cafeteria, library, and guidance office (which now houses a College and Career Center); the Mustang Shop Bookstore; and the building of Moreau Chapel. The new chapel is the first thing you see when you turn into our campus drive and it is topped with a beautiful Cross and Anchor, reminding all who grace our property that the Cross is truly our only hope. Archbishop Donald Wuerl presided at the dedication Mass for our new Chapel and facilities on March 19, 2009. More than 1,000 people participated in the dedication ceremonies and another 200 members of the BMHS community gathered that same night for a dedication reception and celebration.

The Bishop McNamara Band program was invited by the Archdiocese of Washington to play at Andrews Air Force Base in April of 2008 during the welcoming ceremonies for Pope Benedict XVI. More than 150 Mustang faithful were able to attend the event and more than 300 from our school community attended the Pope's historic Mass at National's Stadium.

Bishop McNamara High School is a place where faith, prayer and service remain our greatest legacy. As we continue to move forward, recognizing that the best is yet to come, we remain committed to the Mission and Vision of Holy Cross educators around the world.


La Reine High School

1960 to 1992: Pursuit of ExcellenceLa Reine High School, front of school

Over its 32-year existence, La Reine's pursuit of excellence was rewarded with honors in academic achievement, in art and design, and in athletics. In 1985, the Council on Private Education recognized La Reine for excellence, one of only 65 schools nationwide to be so honored. La Reine's creative yearbooks regularly took top awards for imagination and craftsmanship. Records were achieved in interscholastic sports. The La Reine tradition was established and nurtured over the years thanks to the gifts, talents, sacrifices, and services of the Bernadine Sisters, lay teachers, priests, and more than 4,000 graduates and their parents. Excellence is seen in the lives of our La Reine graduates. The bond forged during those years for our La Reine alumnae has not been broken. As a self-supporting high school without subsidy from the Archdiocese of Washington, La Reine faced the challenges of declining enrollment and a decrease in the religious vocational staff - not unlike McNamara. Although both schools began working on this issue in October 1989, La Reine graduated its last class in June 1992.


Bishop McNamara High School Alma Mater

Hail to thee, our McNamara:
True Maroon and Gold.
What we have in McNamara,
Never will grow old.
Brotherhood and sisterhood in Christian unity,
Mustangs once, we'll always be.
We sing our love to thee.

Hail to thee, our McNamara:
Faith and strength through thee
What we share in McNamara
Keeps us family.
Education, celebration, life's great dignity
Alma Mater, strong and free,
We stand and honor thee.


Maroon and Gold Fight Song

The fight song was composed by Brother Robert Antonetti, the first band director at Bishop McNamara.

Maroon and Gold go charging through,
Fight on you Mustangs brave and true.

We conquer all, we never fall,
We always fight for one and all.
For victory we'll raise our cry,
Our spirits strong will never die.

Go marching on, to VICTORY,
For McNamara High!