Many people in the Prep community have heard Father Scott Jabo’s famous phrase about becoming a man of Prep: “It’s not a 4-year decision, but a 40-year decision,” meaning that the people you meet and lessons you learn from Cathedral Prep will stick with you for the rest of your life. Mr. Ed Brzezinski, a Cathedral Prep graduate from the class of 1964, truly embodies this message of what it means to be a man of Prep, even after your four years of high school are over.
Growing up in Erie, Brzezinski attended St. Hedwig’s for grade school. He still recalls how he ended up deciding on attending Cathedral Prep, laughingly saying that his mother forced him to go. She worked in the Prep cafeteria and wanted her boy to have the best possible high school education. Coming from a small grade school, Brzezinski still recalls his feelings during his first walk around Cathedral Prep, saying, “When I walked in and saw all of the championship trophies in the front hallway, I could immediately feel the tremendous atmosphere that Cathedral Prep has.” He enjoyed every minute of being inside that atmosphere, playing first baseman on the baseball team and tackle on the football team, where they would consistently battle against stiff city-wide competition, like Strong Vincent and Central Tech.
In the classroom, Brzezinski remembers how much of a challenge chemistry and geometry presented to him, adding quite frankly, “those classes scared me.” He took those challenges head on and enjoyed many of his other classes, such as English, which was a particular favorite of his.
When asked to compare Prep in the 1960s to Prep now, Brzezinski said, “The class sizes are smaller nowadays, and the uniforms aren’t quite as strict as the black blazers we used to have to wear, but the school’s mission of constructing of a young man who is well-developed in the spirit, mind, and body has stayed the same.”
Along with these comments about his time at Prep, he also had a funny story to share about potentially the last time in school history that Cathedral Prep had a snow day. He recalls loading onto the school bus one especially cold, snowy morning in Erie, only to find that Prep had been closed due to weather. Already down at Prep with a whole day in front of him, Brzezinski went where many of the Prep and Villa students went to hang out, the Boston Store cafeteria. It was there that he ran into legendary former headmaster of Cathedral Prep, Msgr. McDonald, who upon seeing
Brzezinski and his friends in the store when school was closed, declared that Prep would never have another snow day again! Funny stories such as these are some of his fondest memories from his time at Prep.
After high school, Brzezinski attended Gannon University to study political science and eventually become a lawyer. During his time at Gannon, he stayed involved with Cathedral Prep, working as a bus driver for various athletic teams and substitute teaching for different classes for two years. He enjoyed his time in the classroom at Prep so much that he decided to switch his major and work towards earning a degree in education. After graduating, he worked as a teacher at East High School for 25 years and as a career counselor at Central Tech for 12 years. During his time at both schools, he had 4 children (Kevin, Ted, Jeff, and Rob), who all took after their father and attended Cathedral Prep. Like their father, all the boys were athletes, playing basketball, football, and baseball.
After finishing his time at East High and Central Tech, Brzezinski was looking for something new to take on. That was when Cathedral Prep reached out to him last year and asked if he would be willing to help substitute for absent teachers. He was more than willing to help and made his return back to the halls of Prep. In a very cool moment, Brzezinski recalls the first classroom he had been assigned to look after was the same exact classroom that he had substituted for when he was a student at Gannon more than 45 years ago! “It was pretty cool to be back in the same exact classroom that I left Prep in. At that point, things had really come full circle for me,” he said.
Some of Brzezinski’s favorite things to do now to stay involved in the Cathedral Prep community include attending sporting events, substitute teaching at Prep, watching Prep and Villa theatre shows, and attending class reunions. In fact, Brzezinski’s 55-year class reunion will be happening this year!
After reflecting on his time at Prep, he said that the two biggest advantages of being a Cathedral Prep graduate are the connections you make with other alumni all across the world and the Catholic faith that is instilled in all its students. These lessons have always stuck with Brzezinski and have helped him live his life in the best possible way, whether it be for starting a new job or raising his children in the Catholic faith. Examples such as these show how Brzezinski has used his Prep education and applied the lessons he learned to his everyday life, which is exactly what being a man of Prep, even after graduating, is all about.