About Damien » Mission & Philosophy

Mission & Philosophy

Damien High School is a nationally recognized leader of academic excellence and well-respected for developing the talents and potential of high school boys. Inspired by the compassionate example of Saint Damien of Moloka'i to ensure the well-being of others, Damien has a strong tradition of educating students to be men of service, scholarship, and faith. Damien High School is owned and operated by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Western Catholic Educational Association (WCEA).
Inspired by St. Damien of Moloka’i, a member of the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary, Damien High School, an all-boys Catholic school, develops men of Service, Scholarship, and Faith, prepared to engage in a global society.


In the spirit of St. Damien of Moloka’i, Christian Service at Damien High School offers students the opportunity to act beyond the walls of the classroom by taking academic theory and Christian faith into local communities. Christian Service engages students in socially responsible action that offers substantive, compassionate, and faith-filled service that makes a difference in the lives of those served and of those who are serving. As part of the Christian Service experience, students are challenged to take leadership roles in new and ongoing projects in collaboration with organizations working to bring healing, hope, and transformation to those living in our communities.




The faculty and staff of Damien High School provide students with a broad range of opportunities to acquire knowledge and to develop the critical reading and writing skills necessary for future academic success. The emphasis in the curriculum is college preparatory; all students will have met or exceeded the subject requirements for admission to the CSU and UC systems. Upon graduation, students will possess a broad-based knowledge of basic subject matter in required and elective courses. Students learn to analyze, solve, and understand problems, and express their ideas in a clear and meaningful fashion. As part of this process technology is integrated with the curriculum in all classes and at all levels.


The co-curricular development of scholarship, the physical and social development of a Damien student, complements his intellectual development. The program offered at Damien has as its core interscholastic sports, visual arts exhibitions, music and theater performances in the performing arts, and robotics competitions. In addition student may participate in a wide range of clubs and ASB activities. Within these activities, students have opportunities to develop leadership, self-discipline, and a sense of good sportsmanship. The faculty encourages students to participate in such co-curricular activities, because they are an important and rewarding aspect of school life. 




Damien’s primary mission is to teach as Jesus did.  This mission, according to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, calls on faculty to integrate in their teaching the fourfold dimensions of Catholic education: message, community, worship, and service. The faith program, through instruction in theology, faculty witness, retreats, and liturgies, promotes the spiritual growth of Damien students. Within the Catholic tradition, students develop recognition of self-worth and the dignity of others. The school family is a caring faith community that nurtures members in an atmosphere of mutual support. This ministry enables the student to become a confident, self-disciplined, and active participant in the life of the world.



Integral Student Outcomes
By Graduation, a Damien Spartan should:
      • Studying the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
      • Engaging in Christian Service opportunities in the spirit of St. Damien.
      • Participating in liturgical celebrations and retreats.
      • Completing a college preparatory curriculum.
      • Analyzing, evaluating, interpreting, researching, and synthesizing information.
      • Utilizing technology responsibly as a tool for learning.
      • Employing individual and collaborative problem solving strategies.
      • Exploring and respecting the cultural contributions of all societies.
      • Recognizing the various social, political, and economic forces that shape our world.
      • Understanding our responsibility as stewards of the natural environment and its resources.
      • Developing a healthy lifestyle.
      • Embracing the eight attributes of the SPARTAN Code.
      • Taking advantage of leadership opportunities.
      • Living the Golden Rule.
In 2006, Dr. Leonard Sax wrote a book called “Why Gender Matters” in which he raised a concern about an increased number of boys not succeeding in traditional schools in addition to being diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

When Dr. Sax compared this decline in achievement with the latest medical/brain research regarding the process of learning among adolescent boys, Dr. Sax concluded that current traditional schools are designed to favor the learning potential of girls. Consequently, Dr. Sax also concluded that boys are best served by a different learning environment, particularly single-gender schools, which can amount to increased levels of academic success for boys. See Dr. Sax’s research in single gender public education:

In the summer of 2013, Damien’s Faculty Supervisor, Chris Douglas, and Principal Dr. Merritt Hemenway attended the International Boys School Coalition (IBSC) Conference at which they heard much of the latest research in successful all-boys education from around the globe.

In the summer of 2014, six additional Damien faculty members attended the IBSC conference and have brought back a plethora of ideas for improving learning among boys. These ideas have subsequently been shared with all Damien teachers. This includes a recently implemented “Return to Learn” protocol for students who have suffered a concussion. A number of faculty members have also read and reported on the book “I Can Learn From You” by Michael Reichert and Richard Hawley, which highlights the need for teachers to focus on the relational dynamics that help boys succeed as learners.

At the International Boys School Coalition Conference on all-boys education, attendees also learned that boys love to move around, to compete, to use technology, and to exercise a level of control over their environment.
The Advantage of a Damien Education
Many of these researched concepts are learning modalities that have been used for years at Damien High School. In fact, one of the great advantages we have as a single-gender school is that we can work towards enhancing such models to ensure that the young men of Damien thrive and succeed.

As we apply these principles school-wide, we seek to create a more favorable learning environment for young males. Consider Damien’s new Engineering classroom. There is plenty of room to move about as students engage in a day’s lesson. Sit in a one of the new classroom chairs and you’ll notice that it moves with you!

Finally, you’ll note that traditional classroom desks have been replaced with specially designed tables for flexible classroom design. While our Engineering class currently epitomizes our commitment to an educational experience tailored for young men, we have initiated plans to re-design all of our classrooms with a consideration of the learning needs of young men.
That’s the Damien advantage.
Our tri-school association with Pomona Catholic and St. Lucy's certainly allows for plenty of interaction with young ladies, but this interaction does not take place from 7:45-2:55 pm, which is a time that is reserved for learning. What this means for a Damien student is that the students they are competing with for grades are their peers. By the time of graduation they are not merely peers, but brothers.
That’s the Damien advantage.
Our unique House system supports this brotherhood among grades 9 through 12. Each House is comprised of students from each grade level, which increases the level of camaraderie among the student body. Through friendly competition among the houses, students compete as brothers across grade levels, not simply as freshmen, sophomores, juniors, or seniors (a distinction that often emphasizes student division as opposed to unity). The students themselves also determine yearly House Competitions (past tournaments have included quiz bowl, music bowl, bocce ball, kick-ball, 3-on-3 basketball, ultimate Frisbee, flag-football and of course the Spartan Olympics which takes place in May). Freshmen are also paired with a Big Brother who guides and mentors them through their first year at Damien.
That’s the Damien advantage.
We are also blessed with outstanding on-campus athletic facilities. As noted by the San Gabriel Valley Tribune last year, Damien HS maintains the #1 athletic facilities in the valley. This certainly makes for a great environment for athletic competition, and students don’t have to travel far to practice.
That’s the Damien advantage.
And of course Damien has The PIT (also noted in the Tribune as one of the top cheer groups in the valley) where the girls come to join the boys in cheering. Participation in The Pit is unique and vibrant aspect of the campus life.
That’s the Damien advantage.
Also consider the history of Honors at Entrance scholarship recipients as well as the AP Scholars at Damien. We offer merit scholarships (Honors at Entrance) to students scoring at or above the 90th percentile on the Placement Exam. Currently, 184 students (almost 20% of the Damien student body) receive this award. This makes for a very competitive learning environment. This also explains why of the 212 graduates from the class of 2014, 122 of them were AP Scholars of some degree including 75 AP Scholars, 16 AP Scholars with Honor, 31 AP Scholars with Distinction, and 8 National AP Scholars. We are indeed blessed with many scholars.
That’s the Damien advantage.
Recently, Damien alum, William Saito ’87, wrote an autobiography called “An Un-Programmed Life” (available through Amazon) in which he noted many memorable experiences from his time as a Damien student. Not surprisingly, he emphasized what is the historical hallmark of Damien and that is opportunity to engage in acts of Christian Service. Indeed, we are proud of our history of service, which so often fosters among our students a lifelong commitment to serve our greater communities.
That’s the Damien advantage.
Lastly, our campus ministry programs are an essential component of the Damien experience. This includes the opportunity to participate in student retreats, which begins during the freshman year and continues through the sophomore year with one-day on-campus retreats. As juniors, students have the opportunity to participate in an Emmaus retreat, which is held for two days off campus. Finally, the culmination of this retreat experience is the four-day Kairos Retreat, which seniors often describe as the highlight of their four years at Damien. Traditionally 95% of the all senior classes attend Kairos, which is a special “time out” in the busy part of life to explore one’s relationship with others and ultimately our creator God and His son, Jesus.
That’s the Damien advantage.
In fact, there are many advantages shared on a campus consisting of all male students, and Damien proudly upholds these exceptionalities that make our school community so much more than a “traditional school.” Ultimately, Damien is a place where a young man can thrive and fulfill their best leadership, academic, and spiritual potential.
Open House 2014 Comments
Damien Principal, Dr. Merritt Hemenway

Alma Mater
A certain word, a thought remembered
Will stir within someday
We'll recall the nights of victory
Time has swept away.
We'll sing to you, our Alma Mater
When times like these are gone;
And bring to you our wreaths of glory
Of what we've said or done.
The night is ours, the battle's over;
We're proud of our Spartan men
And take heed to our warning
We'll return again
"With our shield or on it," is the code
Of our Spartan men.
So you tremble at our warning
We'll return again.