Beyond the White House: by Ava Gallo ’18

Jackie Kennedy Onassis visits John F. Kennedy Catholic High School in Somers, NY in May of 1967

Jackie Onassis and John F. Kennedy met at a dinner party when Kennedy was a congressman in 1952. In November of that year, Kennedy was elected United States Senator of Massachusetts. In 1953, the two were married and they later had four children, two of which died in infancy. As First Lady, Jackie Kennedy Onassis was known for the importance she placed on arts and culture and for her widely broadcast restoration of the White House, giving her one of the highest rankings as First Lady. She was riding with Kennedy in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas on November 22, 1963 when he was assassinated. After Kennedy’s funeral she and her children withdrew from the public eye and she later married Aristotle Onassis in 1968.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis at the dedication of the school in May of 1967

This past November 22nd marked 54 years since the namesake of our school was assassinated. The forerunner of John F. Kennedy Catholic High School, St. Mary’s High School, was founded in 1924 in Katonah. However, in the 1950s, with an increase in the demand of Catholic education in Northern Westchester, the Archdiocese of New York announced plans for a new co-educational high school. Upon John F. Kennedy’s assassination, Cardinal Spellman decided to name this new school after Kennedy. The first graduates of John F. Kennedy Catholic High School walked down the aisles of St. Mary’s since the building had not yet been completed. In October 1967, the building and transition into the new school and convent in Somers had been completed.

First Lady of the United States and widow of John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline Onassis, attended the dedication of the high school in 1967, fifty years ago this year. Our beloved Sister Barbara recalled her visit saying “She made a point to stop into each classroom on that day and spoke with the students.” Both Sister Barbara and Sister Janet recollected Jackie Onassis’s visit to the school. She carried herself with poise, acting the way a lady should and she was composed, yet friendly. Although she didn’t give a speech, she sat up straight on the stage with her legs folded and her hands rounded in her lap. Even with the lack of a speech, Onassis was impressed with the school’s presentation and her presence was felt throughout the school.