1982, Nonantum Hill Dining Hall

The 1982-1983 academic school year will always be remembered as the year St. Sebastian’s moved from Newton to its current campus in Needham. After 41 years on Nonantum Hill, St. Sebastian’s had a new home on two sides of Greendale Avenue – a massive event that serves as a pivotal point in our School’s history. Such a transition could easily have caused quite a bit of disruption to faculty and students alike. Yet, thanks to a great deal of planning and effort by members of our administration and Board of Trustees, the school was moved in the course of just one week over Christmas break! Behind the scenes, this was no small feat, but ask students who were a part of it, and most of them would sing a similar tune: it appeared seamless.

In fact, the year, from the student’s perspective, was actually quite normal. “The move … was an amazingly smooth transition,” stated Bill O’Hearn ’86. “As students it appeared effortless.” The move was not a tumultuous upheaval of tradition and structure, but rather a change of scenery from the declining facilities on the Hill to a more spacious campus for a school and its students. The St. Sebastian’s of Needham may have looked markedly different on the outside, but on the inside, it was the same school that existed in Newton. The final assembly on the Hill carried with it no pretensions of grandeur. Times change and if a school expects to prosper, it must learn to change, too.

John Ready tangles with a Belmont Hill defenseman, 1966.
1966, hockey game on the outdoor rink

When asked what it was like to be a student during the move, Jed Doherty ’86 remembered how the transition affected the hockey team. “Practicing hockey with a roof over our heads was a welcome change. On a perfect day for outside skating, there was nothing like the old outdoor rink with views of Boston, but those perfect days did not happen often enough.”

1982-1983 School year
1983, hockey game on the indoor rink in Needham

“We knew we were lucky,” commented Bill O’Hearn ’86, “but we had also left a bit of ourselves behind.” Members of the St. Sebastian’s community understood the move needed to happen, and viewed it not with apprehension, but with willingness and anticipation.

“We know that just as this campus provided us with inspiration for the last forty-years,” reflected Joe Stano ’83 in the Arrow yearbook, “so will our new one guide us into the next – and beyond.” How right you were, Joe. The current Needham campus has been transformed over the past 34 years to meet the evolving needs of our student body. St. Sebastian’s may look different today than it did during its Nonantum Hill days, but that doesn’t mean who we are as a school has changed.

St. Sebastian's School Science, Math and Library Center
2013, St. Sebastian’s current Needham campus

“St. Sebastian’s is not a place,” commented Henry Lane ’49, “it is people – all the wonderful students, parents, faculty, and its staff across all of our years, make up the St. Sebastian’s family.”