A Decade of Change (1960-69)
When Fr. Schwartz left Trinity, Msgr. Steinhauser appointed Fr. John Butler to replace him. He was succeeded in a few years by Fr. Hazelip, a very popular teacher.
At the encouragement of the administration, Rev. Thomas Duerr began the Biology Club in 1960, and began hosting the Trinity Science Fair in the cafeteria. His success as a teacher resulted in many Trinity students walking away with awards from the Louisville Science Fair and other organizations.
Rev. Tom Allen recalled that when he was assigned to Trinity he “had no training in science. Fr. Duerr mentored me that first year and we got through it.” The two priests became close friends and the Biology Club became an instant hit with many students who would later major in biology or pre-Med.
Dr. Philip Morrow ’64 said that his “two favorite teachers were Fr. Duerr and Fr. Allen. “I remember fondly working with them on the biology projects. These two priests really influenced me to pursue a medical career.”
In addition, the Biology Club took trips to study nature. Especially popular with the students was the trip to Land Between the Lakes in Western Kentucky. These students would go on long hikes, stopping to study nature in its beauty.
Another innovation from the biology department was the beginning of the Advanced Placement (AP) program. Even though Trinity offered AP courses in English, history, math and world languages, the biology department arranged with Dr. Dick Sames, chair of the biology department at Bellarmine, that students would come to the college campus on Saturdays for labs that couldn’t be held at the high school.
During the early 1960s two to three newly ordained priests were being assigned each year to teach at Trinity. At that time there were two priest faculty houses – the old rectory and the former convent from the Holy Trinity Parish era. Many priests enjoyed living in the priest houses. Since most of the older priests resided in the former rectory, Rev. John Hughes and other younger priests called it “Withering Heights.” He remembered that the older priests called their priest house – the current Flaget Hall – “Kiddieland.” Fr. Hughes recalled that there was definitely “competition between the two houses.”
Rev. Bill Gorman, who was the main chef for “Kiddieland,” spoke about the camaraderie that developed: “Everyone was working three times more than most people and we didn’t know it.” Rev. Jack Rueff lived there and recalled, “I was the teenage expert. The kids came to see me so much that they moved me to the front room by the school.”
John Brasch ’66 remembered “there were always six or eight of those priests around there. I remember many of my classmates and I going over there and we would sit around and chew the fat.”
“Kiddieland” also became the gathering place for the faculty after home football games. Both lay faculty, their spouses and the priests enjoyed great times on Friday nights in the fall after a Shamrock football game – win or lose.
In the fall of 1962, Trinity made a major change in student dress. Students were now required to wear a shirt and tie. Surprisingly, according to The Echo survey, 55 percent of students approved the new policy, which was instituted to provide an atmosphere more conducive to study.
Enrollment continued to increase and by 1962, capacity was reached when 1,002 students enrolled. In order to meet the needs of the growing enrollment, and Trinity’s mission of providing a Catholic education for anyone desiring it, meetings were held with Archbishop Floersh regarding the construction of a new classroom building and gymnasium. Money was procured for the classroom building, but the gymnasium was delayed until 1967.
Work began in 1963 with the destruction of the old gymnasium, which had been the home for basketball practice and physical education classes. Creighton Mershon called it “a dump with cold showers.”
When completed in September 1964, in its place now stood a new three-story building with 14 new classrooms and a cafeteria. This new classroom wing was attached to the 1957 building by a connector on the second floor, which for years caused traffic jams when students changed classes. With the new building, Trinity could now continue to take any student who wanted a Catholic education, including many young men who lived at Boys’ Haven, an Archdiocesan home for teenage boys who needed a home. Trinity became their second home and assisted them in the development of their personal and professional lives.
In 1964, Trinity experienced a few “firsts.” Trinity hired its first female teacher, Elise Zehnder, who taught typing. She was soon followed by Maria Caballero, who taught Spanish, and Connie Stengel, a chemistry instructor. In that same year, Msgr. Steinhauser hired his first Trinity graduate, Robert Pfaadt ’59, as a member of the history and English faculty. “I remember I signed a contract for $4,400 (which included $200 for having a master’s degree and $200 for coaching freshman basketball). Being single, I thought I was rich and was really proud to be the first alumnus to return to my alma mater as a teacher.”
In that same year Fr. Richard Grenough began a club of about 40 students who did mechanical repairs on automobiles in a vacant barn off Old Brownsboro Road. They called themselves the Trinity Auto Repair Club (TARC). A statue of St. Joseph hung from the rafter of that barn with a sign which read: “This barn, complete with St. Joseph, courtesy of John Walser.”
In the 1965-66 school year, Assistant Principal Fr. Hazelip introduced a Vocational School Program with the Jefferson Area Vocational School in Jeffersontown. Students took morning classes in religion, English and other state requirements, then spent the afternoon at the Vocational School in classes such as drafting, welding, television and appliance repair, electronics, mechanics and body shop.
Two national events in the 1960s that certainly impacted Trinity were the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and the Vietnam War.
On November 22, 1963, Msgr. Steinhauser announced to a shocked school that the President had been shot in Dallas, Texas. Ken Combs was teaching that day and recalled how the announcement stunned everyone. “You couldn’t hear anything else for quite some time. It was just very, very quiet.”
At the 1964 graduation, valedictorian Robert Lega spoke eloquently about the legacy of the fallen President: “The challenge of the New Frontier lies at the feet of the American generation. Who then remains to accept the challenge but the young? Thus, the torch has been passed to the senior class of 1964 and with the torch held high we can meet these challenges and conquer them with our courage and determination.”
High school students had read about World War II and the Korean conflict, but the outbreak of the Vietnam War brought war home to both faculty and students.
Many lay teachers were of draft age but most were able to receive an “occupational deferment” from military service due to the shortage of teachers needed to educate the “Baby Boomers” born after 1946.
However, Trinity’s sons, like so many others, would die in the rice paddies of Vietnam.
Fr. David Hazelip was affected very much by the 1966 death of a former student in Vietnam. He had officiated at 1958 alumnus’ Thomas C. Hafendorfer’s wedding and baptized his son, and recalled that his death “hit close to home.” Four other Trinity alumni – Joseph B. Horsman ’67, William P. Milliner ’68, William J. Scherle ’64 and Victor H. Van Vactor ’65 – also lost their lives in the conflict.
Fr. Michael Diebold, a religion teacher, noted that “with the Vietnam War you got past the silliness and had some real life and death issues.” Fr. Don Springman, another religion teacher, noted that “during the Vietnam years the attitude of the students was ‘why should I study if I am going to get my head blown off in the future’…once the war was over…they began to get serious about their studies and the future.”
“The threat of being drafted was an incentive to do well in school,” recalled Bill DeSanctis ’68. “We were worried about the draft.” Dr. Kevin Walsh ’73 recalls wearing the same tie with peace symbols on it for his entire four years. “That was my contribution to world peace,” he noted.
With the war reaching its peak in 1967, Trinity became one of only 50 schools in the nation and the only one in the Louisville area to begin an Air Force Junior ROTC program. Msgr. Steinhauser was proud that the school was selected when Brig. Gen. Donald F. Blake wrote: “Selection of your school indicates the exceptional nature of your educational program and your interest in aerospace education.”
Retired Air Force commissioned officers – Colonel Hignite, Colonel French, Sergeant Simmons and Sergeant Rupe – taught the classes which were scheduled for three days a week – two in the classroom and one in a leadership laboratory drill session.
In the beginning there were 240 young men involved in AFJROTC. They wore Air Force uniforms to school on class days but as the Vietnam War continued, fewer students enrolled. Michael Diebold recalled “shouting matches in the hallway between those students in ROTC and those not in ROTC.”
By 1971, the program disappeared from the Trinity campus, two years before the Vietnam War ended.
After 1966, the supply of newly ordained priests came to an end and more lay teachers were hired as the school continued to grow. The lay faculty played a significant role in the first 14 years of Trinity. Their dedication and contributions were no less than the religious. There was great disparity between their salaries and what public school teachers were paid. Many lay faculty had to find a high paying summer job, which was difficult, in order to continue teaching in Catholic schools.
The concerns of the lay teachers fell on the sympathetic ears of many of the priest-teachers, especially Fr. Tony Heitzman, the school’s very successful disciplinarian. On April 5, 1967, he spearheaded a letter signed by many of the religious to Msgr. Steinhauser saying they were “deeply concerned about the current crisis in regards to our fellow lay teachers’ salaries for next year.” They warned that they could lose a number of lay personnel to the public schools. “If we lose them, we are convinced that Trinity can’t keep its present status as a first-rate school.”
Steinhauser, more of an administrator than a fund-raiser, indicated that the Archdiocese would not make any changes in the pay scale for the next academic year.
In early May, the lay faculty, along with Fr. Heitzman, decided to approach the Archbishop directly. The Chancery suggested Frs. Thomas Casper and Joseph McGee, who had relieved Msgr. Steinhauser of the duty of superintendant of Catholic high schools a few years earlier, should meet with the lay teachers to resolve the pay issue. Within two years the lay faculty began to receive 90 percent of the pay of a public school teacher with the same experience. There still was no retirement plan offered but in the next decade some studies in good faith were made to begin such a plan.
There is no way of knowing if this pay crisis with the lay faculty caused Steinhauser to write a letter on May 19, 1967, offering his resignation. He wrote that “some of the happiest years of my priesthood have been at Trinity. The cooperation of the faculty, the parents and the students has been extraordinary. I feel that their combined efforts have produced a good school. It is still too early to draw conclusions but I’m sure the years to come will show that a very large number of the school’s graduates will be American, Catholic gentlemen who will make a valuable contribution to God’s work in the diocese and the community.”
Five days later the new Archbishop, Thomas McDonough, accepted his resignation, noting “I single out the tremendous contribution which you made to Trinity High during the 14 years of your devoted service. Your sacrificial generosity has enabled Trinity to attain the degree of academic scholarship which it has achieved.”
Steinhauser chose to announce his retirement at the 1967 graduation, telling those assembled Fr. David Hazelip, the Assistant Principal, would succeed him as the second principal of the school. The words he delivered were a complete shock to the graduates, the faculty and the parents in attendance. It was a night that those in attendance saw as the end of an era and the beginning of something “new and exciting” for the next academic year.
Fr. Tom Boland said of the new principal, “Fr. Hazelip was kind of a liberal-thinking guy who pushed the boundaries a bit compared to Msgr. Steinhauser, who was much more straight, older thinking. He was much more into the mentality of the day, which was to try new things.”
Since his arrival at Trinity, Fr. Hazelip had been a popular teacher. John Brenzel ’58 described him as “the most dynamic teacher in the history of the school.” Dr. Joe Babey thought Hazelip had “so much energy and devotion and was a dynamic guy who brought you out of your shell. He gave me a lot of confidence.” He also remembers fondly the day that Hazelip was having a practice for a student talent show, Varsity Varieties, which he was directing. “He was moving his hands directing us and going crazy if we made a mistake. It was almost as much fun watching him because he just absolutely threw himself into it.”
Despite his popularity, he was not immune to student pranks. Bill Ballard, Norman Pilcher and Jack Guthrie recalled “one Saturday morning we went to the priests’ garage and turned Fr. Hazelip’s Renault sideways so that he couldn’t get it out. Monday morning, there it was, sitting in the driveway.” Nothing was ever mentioned about how it got turned around.
The faculty also respected the new principal for the originality of his ideas. Fr. Ted Sans commented: “He was a very artistic person. He was a musician, very bright, and a visionary…he was not a brick and mortar person, but was a visionary in the academic development of the school.”
As Fr. Hazelip moved into his new office, construction was apparent to everyone driving past the school on Shelbyville Road. Work had begun on a gym originally planned for 1962 but delayed due to a lack of Archdiocesan funds. In the last semester of Msgr. Steinhauser’s principalship, permission was granted to begin construction. One faculty house (Withering Heights) had to be razed for the new 2,000 seat, $400,000 gym modeled after the Masonic Home gym, where Trinity had been playing home basketball games for most of the past 10 years. In the early years, games were also played at Waggener High School. Steinhauser was given permission to finish the project and on January 6, 1968, with Fr. Hazelip at his side, he proudly cut a green ribbon to open the gym. Years later, the building was named for him and is still known as Steinhauser Gymnasium today.
As an assistant principal, Fr. Hazelip had developed a new program in Graphic Arts and began the Department of Humanities. When he became principal, it was in the academic arena where changes really took place.
“Msgr. Steinhauser was a very experienced educator whose strength was in administration. Curriculum was not his bag,” commented the new principal. “He was very supportive of me when I suggested any curriculum changes” recalls the talented man who also composed two iconic school songs – the Trinity Fight Song, and the Alma Mater.
His first major curriculum change came in 1969 with the creation of the Learning Center. Four years earlier, Fr. Hazelip had developed the program where juniors and seniors who were not college-bound went to the Jefferson Area Vocational School in the afternoon. However, for freshmen and sophomores, nothing other than traditional classroom teaching was available. Faculty member Richard “Pee Wee” Carey, who had a nephew with some learning differences, had an idea for a Learning Center for entering students, which would be more relevant to the interests of those who struggled academically. The idea hit home with the innovative and active principal.
Fr. Jack Rueff became the first director of the Learning Center, which he described as “a new and somewhat revolutionary concept in teaching methods.” It consisted of four classrooms and a counseling office on the top floor of Old Trinity Hall, with one of the classrooms serving as a lounge. “My heart went out to the kids who struggled academically,” recalled Fr. Rueff.
Early teachers who taught in the program in addition to Rueff and Carey were Bob Bauer, Wayne Metcalf ’65, Sr. Marcella Ackerman and Paul DeZarn. Carey commented that “the idea was to help kids, get them caught up.” Metcalf described the Learning Center as “involving no more than 50 students shared between five teachers in a block time frame. It was an innovative educational program for its time and I think it worked.”
Even while Fr. Hazelip was designing this program, his mind was working on another program for juniors and seniors, which he called the Independent Studies Section (ISS). It took two years of preparation for the program to begin. Students selected for the program came from the junior and senior classes who were interested in studying in an independent, creative environment.
The program was designed so that students spent the entire morning in the ISS, broke for lunch, and then had regular classes in the afternoon. Courses taught in the ISS included English, sociology, art, music appreciation, philosophy and religion. The loosely structured morning schedule could be altered so that students could have classes in groups or study independently, do research in the library, and even take short breaks off-campus.
In order to make this program work, care was taken to get the right personnel to begin the program. Hazelip lured a former teacher and coach at Trinity, John Moll, to return as co-director of the program, along with Sr. Christine A. Lesousky, the former Vice-President of Ursuline College, which had merged with Bellarmine College in 1968. “Fr. Hazelip gave us great latitude in the ISS program,” Moll reflected. “He did not want to micro-manage. He told us to come up with creative ideas and turned us loose. We selected the subjects with his blessing.” The co-directors came up with some unorthodox teaching ideas, which reflected the questioning of the late 1960s. This included trusting students to be on their own, think for themselves, be discriminate in reading and listening and to stimulate creativity in their papers and projects.
Moll served as ISS co-director for two years before he left to become principal of Bishop David High School. Two other co-directors – Joseph Hoerter and Edward Nolan – followed, with Sr. Christine continuing as co-director until she retired in 1979. Robert Edelen then became co-director with Ed Nolan.
Students could return to the regular honors program at any time if they found the teaching method not to their liking. Dave Kelly, a long-time faculty member, disciplinarian and counselor, praised ISS as “one of the most outstanding programs we ever had at Trinity.” However, there were many traditional teachers who were critical of this new approach. It had its own discipline and total control, but appeared to some faculty that it didn’t.
“The Learning Center and the Independent Studies Section were my babies,” said Hazelip, clearly revealing the pride he felt in these two programs.
In addition to curriculum changes, Fr. Hazelip made some major changes in administration. For the first two years as principal, Fr. Kevin Caster served as his assistant principal. A popular teacher of English and French, Fr. Caster tried administration but his heart was in the classroom. He was very gifted with words and was always the person the athletic coaches wanted to emcee the major pep rallies.
In 1969, Fr. Hazelip agreed to allow Fr. Caster to return to the classroom and sought replacements in the ranks of the faculty. He selected Bob Pfaadt to be Assistant Principal (Director of Studies) and also elevated the disciplinarian Dave Kelly to the position of an Assistant Principal (Director of Students). In addition, he made two other important administrative decisions, placing Fr. Dave Zettel as Senior Counselor, a position he would retain for the next 42 years. Fr. Hazelip named his own classmate, Fr. Thomas Duerr, to the newly created position of Business Manager.
Fr. Hazelip announced the formation of a Faculty Senate, which would discuss faculty concerns without the presence of the administration. Two members of the Senate would also be invited to the principal’s weekly staff meetings, which Fr. Hazelip referred to as his “advisory board.”
As the 1960s came to a close, the Trinity administration had taken on a completely new look. These changes would affect the school in many different ways in the next decade.