On a rainy December 8, in 1957, Bishop George W. Ahr of the Trenton Diocese assembled with over 2,500 members of the community to dedicate “the last word” in New Jersey high schools.
Principal, Fr. Henry M. Tracy, was assisted by Sister Mary Eleanor and a teaching staff of 16, which consisted of 12 Sisters of Mercy and four lay teachers. College prep classes were offered along with business education courses, mechanical drawing and a reading program.
Three months earlier, Notre Dame High School, the largest parochial secondary school in the state, had opened its doors for the first time. Four hundred and twenty eager freshmen filed into the $2.5 million, 40-classroom structure on nearly 100 suburban Lawrenceville acres. They sifted through 10,000 library volumes, participated in physical education classes in the 1,800-seat gymnasium, assembled for liturgies in the 1,250-seat auditorium, ate lunch in the 1,000-seat dining room and prayed in the 100-seat Chapel of Our Lady, now dedicated to deceased alumni and faculty.
Word spread quickly about Notre Dame. Over the next few years, student enrollment thrived, and faculty, both religious and lay, grew steadily. By June of 1961, those first eager freshmen had come full circle and led a student body of 1,325. Senior class president Donald Comfort delivered the salutatory address to 344 members of Notre Dame’s first graduating class of ’61.