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Brien McMahon High School is a secondary school located in Norwalk on Highland Avenue. It is named after Brien McMahon, a former United States Senator from Norwalk. The school's mascot is a Senator with the school colors being red, white, and blue. The school's first senior class graduated in 1962. The current principal is Suzanne Brown Koroshetz.
Brien McMahon High School's crosstown rival is Norwalk High School and the two schools compete in an annual Thanksgiving Day football game. The football team was state champion in 1994. The boy's lacrosse team was Division 2 state champion in 2000 and the runner-up in 2005 and 2006. The girl's lacrosse team was Division 2 State Champion runner-up in 2007. Brien McMahon is a member of the Fairfield County Interscholastic Athletic Conference athletic conference.
The Center for Global Studies at Brien McMahon High School is a magnet school within Brien McMahon High School. The center is a magnet program for high school students in Fairfield County that want to learn the Arabic Language, Japanese or Chinese culture|Chinese language|history.
Brien McMahon High School has been serving the community since it opened as a junior-senior high school in September 1960. In January 1961, the entire student population of the then Benjamin Franklin Junior High moved in and remained until June, while Ben Franklin was being renovated. Brien McMahon’s first senior class graduated in June 1962. The athletic fields were not completed until the fall of 1964.
The construction of Roton Middle School relieved Brien McMahon of grades seven and eight and the change-over of Benjamin Franklin to a middle school saw the doors of Brien McMahon open in September, 1966 as a four-year high school. From 1961-1971, the building was also used by Norwalk Community College. In the fall of 1971, because of over-crowded conditions, the ninth grade was transferred to the building on East Avenue, which had once housed Norwalk High School, and was since renovated to become the current Norwalk City Hall. From 1971 through June 1981, the Brien McMahon freshman class used this facility, which came to be known as the Annex.
During the '79-'80 and '80-81 school years, an extensive renovation process took place to upgrade and improve the facilities and to make room for the 9th grade. Thus, in September, 1981, the four grade levels (9-12) once more were together after a ten year separation.
In 2002, a year after the installation of lights on the football field, the City of Norwalk realized that the field was being used so much that it was impossible to keep the grass alive. Therefore, the Parks and Recreation Department replaced the field with a very attractive artificial turf field, which is surrounded by a rubberized track. Once used for football, the field is now also used for the marching band, soccer, field hockey and lacrosse, as well as by BMHS physical education classes. In the middle of the field is the well-known McMahon “M,” in blue, with red trim.
Over the years, heating and ventilation systems in the building proved inadequate, and many of the classroom and laboratory facilities were badly dated and undersized. The exterior of the building had also become dingy and unattractive. Therefore, the school administration, supported by parents, students and staff, began a major effort to enlist support from the City of Norwalk. Their efforts resulted in the largest public construction project in the history of the City of Norwalk, with a budget that totaled about $75 million. In September 2003, work began on the east building, a beautiful curved building located between the original (west) building and the football field. This building, which opened on February 28, 2005, houses a new heating system, a chiller for the school, which is now entirely air conditioned, a very large cafeteria, new science and world language classrooms, and about 50,000 square feet of classroom and meeting space for the Center for Global Studies, the interdistrict magnet program that evolved from the Center for Japanese Studies Abroad, which began in 1992.
Once the east building was completed, work began on a “like new” renovation of the west building. Most interior and exterior walls were removed, as was the roof, and an entirely new configuration was developed. In a former courtyard, a spectacular library was built, adding nearly 10,000 more square feet to the school. The auditorium and gymnasium were remodeled, new offices were built, and new classroom space was developed for many of our academic, arts and vocational departments. As is the case in the east building, the reconstruction of the west building places strong emphasis on allowing natural light into most areas of the school.
Students and staff moved into the “Phase 2” portion of the renovation on January 3, 2006, at which time the last part of the original building closed for similar renovation, with a completion date of July 6, 2006. In addition to the work done on the building, the project also provided the school with new tennis courts and a new softball field.
Brien McMahon High School, fully accredited by the [New England Association of Schools and Colleges], has a short but impressive history of student accomplishments in the academic and extracurricular fields.
Notable alumni of Brien McMahon High School include:
- Jesse Bradford, actor and former McMahon Homecoming King
- Travis Simms, Pro Boxer in the Super welterweight division, former Champion
- Mitch Longley, TV, stage and screen actor, founder of the non-profit organization SOWOHO
- Idris Price, former NFL player for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
- Daniel Walsh, winner of a bronze medal in rowing at the 2008 Summer Olympics
- John Mayer, Grammy award winning singer.
Brien McMahon Drama Department
The Brien McMahon High School Drama Department was ended several years ago. At its peak, The Drama Department was producing professional productions like the other school Norwalk High is doing today. However, the department was disbanded and no musicals or plays were produced for some time. In 2003, Brien McMahon began to expand the number of after school activities to get students involved in the community. This is when All Down Drama was formed.
All Down Drama was a new club that provided a comprehensive theatrical experience for students and supported language and literacy. It began as a student centered theater group coached by parents. Members of the school's faculty served in advisory roles. The students named the group (All Down Drama) and created the logo. The club learned about the theater through games, improv, and scene work. From 2003 to 2004, All Down Drama produced plays. Some productions include: "A Day in New York" (a student developed, written, and produced performance), "Curtin Flirtin: A Series of Scenes and Short Plays," and "Shakespeare by the Pond; Snippets of Shakespeare." With these performances, a new age of live theater retuned to McMahon.
In the Spring of 2005, All Down Drama introduced teacher Sky Livingston to the Club’s advisory board. Livingston became a director and helped produced the heart-wrenching drama "The Girl in the Mirror." He returned in 2006 to bring the light-hearted comedy, "Scapino!" to the Brien McMahon stage. The club continued to build community partnerships since it was started. In 2006, the club was asked to send 8 members of the club to perform an anti-bullying program for middle school students with Shakespeare on the Sound. The club also has partnered with the Westport Country Playhouse (Westport, CT) and the Maritime Aquarium to have club members perform dramatic readings for elementary school students.
In the Spring of 2007, All Down Drama partnered with the Musical Theatre of Connecticut. This marked the return of the "Spring Musical." With MTC, All Down Drama produced the professional-like performance of "Grease." The production raised funds for the club and it was the start of yearly productions at the school. These productions will now be produced by the newly created "Drama Department", the BMHS Music Department, and the All Down Drama Club.
In the fall of 2007, the school's Art Department's leader John Tate became resident Director and Advisor to the Drama Department and All Down Drama Club. Mr. Tate chose to produce the production of The Canterbury Tales. In the spring of 2008, the Drama Department produced the production of Into the Woods.
On September 2, 2008, it was announced that the Drama students would perform works by Edgar Allan Poe. The students also learned that a new "Drama Club" was formed and they elected officials to run the club. Under the new Drama club, Many activities have been planned to raise funds for the Spring show. The Drama Club's purpose is to provide an atmosphere of community bonding through acting and improve.
- Official Brien McMahon High School Website
- Center for Global Studies at Brien McMahon High School Website
- Brien McMahon High School Web pages at Great Schools website
- Brien McMahon High School "Strategic School Profile 2005-2006", Connecticut Department of Education
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