After McGuinness’ untimely death in 1957, Bishop Victor Reed fulfilled the plans of his predecessor, and the school opened its doors in 1960. By combining the student bodies both from Marquette and Holy Family High Schools, Bishop Kelley High School became the co-institutional high school of the diocese. The Christian Brothers from the St. Louis Province taught the boys, and the Sisters of Divine Providence from San Antonio taught the girls. By 1965, the school had become entirely coeducational.
In 1978, the Diocese of Tulsa sold a portion of land set aside for Bishop Kelley High School. Proceeds from that sale substantially augmented the Bishop Kelley High School Endowment Trust. The school saw its most dramatic changes during the 1980s and 1990s. In 1981 Bishop Kelley High School held its first dinner auction, which has become an annual tradition as the school’s major fund-raiser. After the 1981-82 school year, the Sisters of Divine Providence were reassigned to serve other ministries. The following school year, a fire destroyed a major section of the school, between the “B” and “C” wings of classrooms. The subsequent reconstruction of the “A” building, better known as the Administration Building, began a gradual improvement of the school’s facilities.
The school celebrated its Silver Anniversary in 1985 by establishing the Bishop Kelley High School Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony has become an annual tradition. The following year, Bishop Kelley High School took another major step toward campus improvement with “Commitment to Excellence,” the school’s first capital campaign. “Commitment to Excellence” raised $1 million, which paid for construction of the De La Salle Chapel and significantly strengthened the annual impact of the Bishop Kelley High School Endowment Trust.
The “Commitment to Excellence” campaign made great strides toward broadening the Bishop Kelley High School community, so much so that in 1992 the school was able to launch its most ambitious building project since Bishop Kelley High School’s initial construction in 1960. The 1992 “Catch the Spirit” capital campaign was hugely successful, involving hundreds of people in the diocese. “Catch the Spirit” raised more than $4 million, which financed renovation of the former convent into the Providence Center classroom building for theology, construction of the Bishop Eusebius Beltran Activity Center and the Rev. Stanley Rother Athletic Facility, plus many other improvements.
Additional changes continue to enhance the spirit of Bishop Kelley. “Home Field Advantage,” a grassroots fund-raising effort by our alumni in 1997, raised more than a million dollars to help build a football/soccer stadium and athletic complex, plus enhance the baseball and softball fields. In 2000, the former Harmon Science Center became part of the Bishop Kelley landscape. Renovations created 13 new science and technology classrooms to help accommodate Bishop Kelley’s expanding student body, plus a state-of-the-art theater. Smaller, more private fund-raising efforts provided additional, needed improvements.
Subsequent support provided renovations in 2003-2004 to the former “D” building, now called the “Mary, Queen of Peace Center” (MQP). The MQP is a beautiful space that houses the admissions office, guidance offices, classrooms, and the Brother Bernardine Scholars room. With more than 95 percent of our students matriculating to colleges, guidance and counseling services are constantly in use.
Recent milestones in Bishop Kelley’s history include 2002, when our first lay president/principal was named; 2004, when the Athletic Hall of Fame was created; and 2005, when the “Forever Bishop Kelley” capital campaign began, culminating in 2010 when Bishop Kelley celebrated its 50th anniversary. Also in 2010, the Bishop Kelley community developed a strategic plan and recognized the need to expand endowments, maintain the campus and provide new library and sport/fitness facilities. Technology and security needs were also included. This vision looks 50 years into the future, offering students the opportunity to have excellent academics, quality facilities, extracurricular activities, and a chance to give back to the community through Christian service.
Our constant focus and challenge is to offer affordable Catholic education to all families who wish to send their children to Bishop Kelley. Today, with more than 8,000 graduates, Bishop Kelley has emerged as an outstanding Catholic high school whose graduates are accomplished, contributing members of society.
Bishop Kelley is achieving its mission: to graduate well-educated students who practice the Gospel values of Jesus Christ or, in the words of St. John Baptist de La Salle, “have hearts and minds committed to the service of others, especially the poor.”