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Belen Jesuit Preparatory School

Belen Jesuit Preparatory School is an all-male, Roman Catholic, preparatory school in Miami, Florida, operated by the Society of Jesus. It was established in Havana, Cuba, by the Jesuits in 1854, but moved to the United States after the communist government of Fidel Castro, himself an alumnus, took power and expelled the Jesuits.[3] It has since made the Cardinal Newman Society's honor roll.[4] The name Belen is Spanish for "Bethlehem."[5]

Belen Jesuit Preparatory School
500 Southwest 127th Avenue

, ,

Coordinates25°45′47″N 80°24′06″W / 25.76304°N 80.40180°W / 25.76304; -80.40180Coordinates: 25°45′47″N 80°24′06″W / 25.76304°N 80.40180°W / 25.76304; -80.40180
TypePrivate, all-boys
MottoMen For Others[2]
Religious affiliation(s)Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Established1854; 164 years ago (1854)
OversightTeresa Martinez
School codeAMDG
PresidentFr. Guillermo García-Tuñon, S.J.,
DeanMr. Andres De Angulo
PrincipalJose E. Roca
Enrollment1,482 (2014)
Color(s)Blue      and      Gold
MascotWaldo the Wolverine
Team nameBelen Wolverines
RivalChristopher Columbus High School
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools [1]



In CubaEdit

In 1854, Queen Isabella II of Spain issued a royal charter founding the "Colegio de Belén" in Havana. The school took its name from the building it occupied at its founding, the former convent and convalescent hospital of Our Lady of Belen. Over time, the school expanded through the donation of several nearby buildings in Havana. The resulting complex became known as "El Palacio de Educación" (The Palace of Education). "El Palacio" now houses the Instituto Técnico Militar (Military Technical Institute).

A meteorological observatory was established in 1857. A facility was built in 1896.[6]

In the United StatesEdit

The education of students was assigned to the priests and brothers of the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits). In 1961, the revolutionary regime confiscated the school's property and expelled the Jesuit faculty. The school was re-established in Miami the same year, and began to grow over the next decade. Today, Belen Jesuit sits on a 30-acre site in western Miami-Dade County. There are nearly 7,000 members of the Belen Alumni Association currently active.

Belen Jesuit is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. The school is also affiliated with the National Catholic Educational Association and is a member of the Jesuit Secondary Education Association (JSEA) and Jesuit High School College Counselors Association.[7] While in Miami, a rivalry developed between Belen and another Miami all-male Catholic high school, Christopher Columbus High School, run by the Marist Brothers. The rivalry is well-known locally and ranges from sports to local politics.[8][9]


The Belen Observatory for Astronomy and Meteorology was built with donations from the Belen Jesuit Class of 1972 and features a 16” telescope with CCD camera for astrophotography. Weather forecasts from the facility are radioed daily to various cities in Florida. The Observatory was grown and made popular under the watchful eye of Fr. Pedro Cartaya.

The Gian Zumpano Aquatic CenterEdit

The Gian Zumpano Aquatic Center was completed on June 6, 2018, and is the home to the Belen Jesuit swimming team. This olympic size swimming facility was built in honor of the Zumpano family, and is the first known facility of its kind designed in the Jesuit tradition. [10]

Financial aidEdit

For the 2013-14 academic year, the school provided over $1.8 million in financial aid to 26% of its students. Financial aid is available to all students based strictly on financial need. These grants are funded by private donations, net profits from the annual gala and Fr. Izquierdo Memorial Golf Classic, and carnival ("Tombola") proceeds. Belen Jesuit does not award academic or athletic scholarships.

In addition to need-based aid, in 2006 Belen and Ocean Bank created the Agape Scholarship to promote diversity at the school and committed $1.2 million over the next ten years for the program.[11] The scholarship fully covers tuition, books, and other educational expenses. The Agape Scholarship program was extended for another year by a $15,000 contribution from Belen's Alumni Association. It is currently in need of a new sponsor.


The year 2014 marked the eighth consecutive time Belen Jesuit has been named one of the Top U.S. Catholic High Schools by the Newman Society.[12] In 2014 Belen Jesuit was the only Catholic School in Miami-Dade County to receive this recognition and one of only three in the entire state of Florida.[13]


The Ignatian Center for the Arts, inaugurated in October 2003, is the hub of the Humanities Department. Its facilities include the 665-seat Roca Theater, the Saladrigas Art Gallery, a stagecraft workshop, an art studio, and a band hall. The Saladrigas Gallery hosts two annual exhibits curated by professionals, an exhibit of young artists from Archdiocesan high schools, a Belen community art show, and several other projects.

The Belen Jesuit bands program was established in 2005 and features 240 student musicians. There are three major band units in the school: The Jazz Band, the Concert Band, and the Drum Line. The Belen Jazz Band has won first and second place awards in competitions at Disney World, the Miami-Dade Youth Fair, and the Festival of Music in Washington, D.C.(2013).[citation needed] The bands perform two annual concerts at the Roca Theater, while the Drum Line performs at the school's pep rallies and athletic competitions.

Drama classes use the Roca Theater for their performances and sets are built by students enrolled in stagecraft classes. Belen presents three dramatic productions annually: two performed by the high school and a third performed by middle school students. Student productions of the last decade include Death of a Salesman, Fuenteovejuna, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Godspell, A Few Good Men, West Side Story, and The Sound of Music.


Belen Jesuit competes in baseball, basketball, volleyball, bowling, crew, cross country, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming, tennis, track and field, water polo, and wrestling.

  • Team State Champions:
    • Sunshine Cup All Sports Award – 2011–2012
    • Cross Country – 1995, 2006, 2007, 2008,
        2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2017, 2018
    • Swimming – 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013 
    • Track and Field – 2007
    • Water Polo – 2009, 2015, 2016
  • Academic State Champions
    • Basketball – 2008, 2009
    • Bowling – 2012
    • Volleyball – 2009
    • Soccer - 2016


The Ramón Guiteras Memorial Library is located on the campus and serves the student body and faculty of Belen as well as the local community. The library currently lists over 35,000 volumes, 15,000 ebooks, and dozens of subscriptions to electronic databases. The library staff includes one professional librarian and three assistants.[14]

The library houses La Colección Cubana (The Cuban Collection), a special collection of Cuban books. La Colección Cubana consists of over 7,000 volumes, written either on the subject of Cuba or penned by Cubans and Cuban-Americans. La Colección Cubana is open to the public and is the second-largest collection of Cuban books and other media outside of Cuba[14]

Notable alumniEdit


  1. ^ SACS-CASI. "SACS-Council on Accreditation and School Improvement". Archived from the original on 2010-03-15. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
  2. ^ President address
  3. ^ [Ada Evening News February 24, 1961 Ada]
  4. ^ Honor role
  5. ^ "Google Translation".
  6. ^ Mariano Gutiérrez-Lanza [es] (1904). Apuntes historicos acerca del Observatorio del Colegio de Belén, Habana (in Spanish). Havana: Impr. Avisador comercial.
  7. ^ "Belen Jesuit Preparatory School". Archived from the original on 2014-11-04.
  8. ^ "Columbus continues dominance of Belen with 13th win in a row". miamiherald. Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  9. ^ "Miami federal judge unimpressed by Belen-Columbus political rivalry | Naked Politics". Retrieved 2018-06-19.
  10. ^ url=
  11. ^ Ocean Bank Community: Leaders “Open The Door” Archived May 17, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^ National Catholic High School Honor Roll Archived 2015-12-22 at the Wayback Machine.
  13. ^ Catholic High School Honor Roll
  14. ^ a b Belen Jesuit Preparatory School - Library Archived December 30, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit