Covington Catholic High School traces its beginnings to the late nineteenth century when in 1885 three brothers of the Society of Mary came to Covington at the invitation of Fr. Aegidius, O.S.B., pastor of St Joseph's parish The brothers accepted from the pastor responsibility for establishing a commercial high school class as well as teaching the boys in the parish grade school. For the next forty years St. Joseph's School, situated on Twelfth Street near Greenup, opened its doors to boys from many parishes in Covington and later was the only Catholic high school for boys in the area.
The pressing need of a four-year Catholic high school for boys from all of the parishes in Kenton County led to a meeting on August 28, 1925 between the Most Rev. Francis W. Howard, Bishop of Covington, and Brother George Sauer, S.M., Inspector of Schools of the Cincinnati Province of the Society of Mary. It was evident to both of these men that the existing facilities of the commercial school at St. Joseph's were not adequate for a complete four-year high school to be named Covington Catholic High School and to be staffed by the Society of Mary. Then Monsignor Henry Tappert, Pastor of Mother of God Church, offered part of his parish school building for the new high school. His offer was accepted and for a time that building housed the first freshman class of the newly established Covington Catholic High School, the final year of St. Joseph Commercial School, the Covington Latin School, and the parish grade school.
The school opened its doors in 1925 at Mother of God School on 6th Street with a freshman class of 32, and was under the leadership of Principal Brother Anthony Weber, S.M. The Brothers of Mary, running the St. Joseph Commercial High School in Covington, staffed the new school. Bishop Howard specified that total enrollment of the high school was to grow gradually to between two hundred and fifty and three hundred boys as more space became available in the Mother of God school. In each succeeding year, an additional grade level was added, until in 1929, when a four-year program was completely established. In 1926, the Brothers of Mary closed St. Joseph Commercial School to dedicate all their time to Covington Catholic. Brother Weber then began to expand the school's curriculum by equipping chemistry and physics laboratories, and he expanded the athletic programs. He applied for and received accreditation for the school from the state of Kentucky on May 25, 1929, and Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools during the same year.
Many of the students who attended Covington Catholic came from the parishes in Covington as well as Ludlow, Park Hills, and Fort Mitchell. Tuition was $50.00 a year because of the small salaries paid to the five Brothers of Mary. (In 1935, each one of the brothers was earning $750 a year.) Even with such a low tuition many of the families could not afford the tuition, so the nearby parishes were required to pay for the families that could not afford.
Covington Catholic's enrollment began to increase quickly and the need for additional classrooms and space became apparent. In 1935, the bishop held a meeting that included all of the sponsoring pastors in Kenton County to discuss solutions to the space problem. The first solution proposed was the purchasing of Mother of God School for $75,000. Mother of God Parish would then send their elementary students to Notre Dame Academy, which was then located on 5th Street. The pastors did not feel they could raise the funds that would be needed to purchase the building. No substantial changes were made, but as enrollment gradually increased the concern about space and facilities became more pressing.
In the early 1950's it became apparent that Covington Catholic High School would have to be expanded further if it were to continue its role as a central Catholic high school for boys in Kenton County. Pastors from thirteen Northern Kentucky parishes approved plans for construction of a new 44,000 sq./ft. high school building on a fourteen acre plot at 1600 Dixie Highway based on the same structure used for Newport Central Catholic. The cornerstone was placed in 1954, and the first class graduated from the school in 1955. The class president was Edward Sessinger. The total cost of the building and property was $845,439.44, and was shared by the thirteen parishes.
The school gymnasium was dedicated on January 29, 1955 when the Purcell High School Cavaliers played Covington Catholic in basketball. Later, through the efforts of the S.C.O.R.E. committee, Wooten Field was added for football, and the baseball field was completely rebuilt. In 1988, the Scott Knochelman Alumni Building was built to accommodate the growing needs of athletic teams. It includes a weight room, locker room and showers, and coaches offices.
Throughout the years many members of the Cov Cath family had the foresight to persist in a dream that the current facilities would need to be improved upon. In 1995 a committee met and began discussing plans for a new academic building and so in the fall of 2001 the first Capital Campaign in the seventy-seven year history of Cov Cath commenced. Mr. Wayne Carlisle and Mr. Gerry Thelen co-chaired the campaign. The goal given was to raise $8 million dollars, the funding needed to build a state of the art academic facility. An official presentation was made on October 4, 2002 to Bishop Foys, his consulters, the finance committee and diocesan staff. The Bishop conferred that the present building was “very tired and worn out” and gave his approval on Oct 6, 2002 to construct a new academic center. In no time the Cov Cath campus became a full fledged “construction zone”.
The weather on October 29, 2002 was not ideal for a groundbreaking ceremony but that did not dampen the spirits of those attending this anticipated event. In late July 2003 the building that had served Cov Cath well for nearly 50 years was demolished to make room for the new academic center. The new school, located behind the 1955 facility, opened its doors in mid September 2003 to begin the 2003/2004 school year. The first Open House in the new building took place on December 6, 2003 followed by the dedication and blessing of the new academic building the following day. The new school building consists of 80,000 sq feet and features computer labs, technology in the classrooms, custom science labs and a beautiful chapel.
Just five years after construction of the new academic center, Covington Catholic decided to expand and improve its sports facilities with a $1.2 million multi-sport building in the summer of 2008 known as the Schott Sports Center after a major gift from the Marge Schott Foundation. The 8,600 square ft. two-story sports building houses baseball, soccer, track and field, cross country, lacrosse, a multi-purpose room, weight and locker rooms, offices for coaches, a state of the art athletic training room as well as public restrooms.
At the same time the sports building was being built, a grotto, dedicated to Mary and the Marianist Brothers who founded Covington Catholic, was constructed with over 1400 volunteer hours. The grotto serves as a sanctuary to Mary and a place of prayer and reflection for students. The stone for the statue of Mary came from a quarry in Italy and was carved by the same sculptors as the Vatican statues. The grotto is the most significant outside display of reverence to Mary on the school property.
It did not take long into 2010, to establish that the new decade of the 2010's is poised to become the most significant land expansion effort in the school's history. Two acres were purchased on the north side of the baseball field and has become a new practice field for the soccer and lacrosse teams. In January of 2010, Covington Catholic received $865,000, its largest donation in its history, from the Dennis Griffin Family which funded the purchase of the much desired Church of the Nazarene building and property which sits very close to the academic building. Feasibility studies were held to determine the best use of this building for the campus' long term growth plan. At the end of 2010, the school also acquired an additional 2 acres adjoining the lake and church property which will be developed to provide future field and facilities at Covington Catholic. In 2013, a small parcel fronting Dixie Highway was purchased, and a new road named Alumni Drive was developed which provided a much needed second access to the campus and parking.
The impact of Covington Catholic's academic program is evident in the successes of over 8,000 alumni. Covington Catholic looks at the roster of community leaders with pride. Over thirty graduates have given their lives to the priesthood or brotherhood. Some sixteen alumni have returned to their Alma Mater to teach. Many alumni are numbered among the area's top professionals in business, law, medicine, government, and public administration.