Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School

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Bishop O'Connell High School
Bishop O'Connell High School is located in Virginia
Bishop O'Connell High School
Bishop O'Connell High School
Bishop O'Connell High School is located in the United States
Bishop O'Connell High School
Bishop O'Connell High School
6600 Little Falls Road


United States
Coordinates38°53′41″N 77°09′40″W / 38.894753°N 77.161094°W / 38.894753; -77.161094Coordinates: 38°53′41″N 77°09′40″W / 38.894753°N 77.161094°W / 38.894753; -77.161094
TypeParochial; Private
OversightDiocese of Arlington
PrincipalCarl Patton
Head of schoolJoseph E. Vorbach, III Ph.D.
EnrollmentApprox. 1,100[1] (2017)
Student to teacher ratio14:1[1]
Color(s)Royal Blue and Silver Grey          
Athletics conferenceWashington Catholic Athletic Conference
NicknameKnights, O’Connell, DJO, OC
RivalPaul VI Catholic High School
AccreditationSouthern Association of Colleges and Schools [2]
NewspaperThe Visor
YearbookThe Shield

Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School (also known as DJO[3]) is a Roman Catholic college preparatory school founded in 1957 in Arlington County, Virginia. It was established by the Diocese of Richmond, but has been under the direction of the Diocese of Arlington since 1974. The school is named for Bishop Denis J. O'Connell, Bishop of Richmond from 1912 to 1926.


Advanced Placement Program[edit]

These AP Courses are offered to students:[4]

Social Studies:

  1. European History
  2. United States History
  3. United States Government
  4. Comparative Government
  5. Human Geography


  1. Biology
  2. Chemistry
  3. Physics 1
  4. Physics C (Electricity & Magnetism)[5]
  5. Physics C (Mechanics)[5]
  6. Environmental Science


  1. English Language and Literature
  2. Spanish Language and Literature
  3. French Language
  4. German Language
  5. Latin: Vergil

Fine Arts:

  1. Studio Art: Drawing
  2. Art History
  3. Music Theory


  1. Calculus AB
  2. Calculus BC
  3. Statistics


  1. Psychology
  2. Microeconomics[6]
  3. Macroeconomics[6]
  4. Computer Science A

Honors Program[edit]

O'Connell High School (frontal view)

Honors classes are also offered in a variety of academic areas. These courses are offered at the honors level:[7]

  • Accounting 1
  • Advanced Art
  • Algebra 2/Trigonometry
  • Analysis
  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • English
  • French 3 and 4
  • Geometry
  • German 3 and 4
  • Intro to Humanities
  • Latin 3 and 4
  • Physics
  • Spanish 3 and 4
  • Spanish for Speakers 4
  • Special Topics in Religious Thought
  • World Religions and Christian Morality
  • Symphonic Band
  • U.S. Government
  • U.S. History
  • World History



Bishop O'Connell High School participates in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC). In this league, O'Connell participates in all major sports against other Catholic high schools of the D.C. metro area.


Since the mid-1980s, the school's primary athletic rival has been Paul VI Catholic High School, located in Fairfax. The rivalry has sometimes resulted in high tensions between the schools, due to vandalism incidents and problems at sporting events. In late 2009, tempers flared so high that police action had to be taken to cool the rivalry.

Bishop Ireton High School, located in Alexandria, Virginia, is another major athletic rival.


Boys' Varsity Team[edit]

These are some statistics from the last five years of O'Connell Varsity Boys' Basketball:[8]


Girls' Varsity Soccer[edit]

The O'Connell Girls' Varsity Soccer team held the record for being undefeated from (12) to (12).[citation needed] They were National Champions in 2004.[9]

Boys' Varsity Soccer[edit]

The boys' soccer team beat the 19-0-1 DeMatha Stags on October 31, 2006, in the conference quarter-finals. The victory prevented DeMatha, who at one point this season was ranked number 1 in the nation, from winning their 4th straight WCAC title. This resulted in the defeat of DeMatha's 67-game unbeaten streak. The team then lost to Paul VI 2-1 in the semi-final round of the WCAC tournament.[citation needed]


O'Connell main driveway and bus port

O'Connell has over 60 student-operated clubs. Their focuses are generally academic, charitable, and common interest. These clubs currently include: (listed alphabetically)[10]

  • Pro-Life Club
  • Philosophy Club
  • Ping Pong Club
  • Polish Club
  • Pure Love Club[13]
  • Red Cross Club
  • Science and Engineering Club
  • Shield (Yearbook)
  • Soldiers of Christ Club
  • Speech Club
  • St. Ann's Tutors
  • Stock and Finance Club
  • Student Council Association (SCA)
  • Student Trainers
  • Student Ushers
  • Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.)
  • S.A.V.E.[14]
  • Teens Against Cancer Club
  • Visor (Newspaper)
  • Weight Training Club
  • Ultimate Frisbee Club
  • Young Republicans Club

Charitable events[edit]


The O'Connell Superdance is an annual 12-hour dance-a-thon held at the school which raises money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The Superdance is organized and run by students. It was started under the administration of principal Msgr. James McMurtrie. O'Connell students began holding the Superdance in 1976 because students wanted to speed the discovery of a cure for cystic fibrosis (CF), a fatal disease of the lungs which had claimed the life of sophomore Brenda O'Donnell on April 14, 1975. Her sister Maura was a senior in 1976 and also had cystic fibrosis. Their brother, Sean, died of cystic fibrosis that same year.

Maura graduated and went on to nursing school at Marymount University, continuing to support the Superdance in hopes that a cure would be found. Her last Superdance was in 1978 when she came out of the hospital just for the event. In a speech delivered to the O'Connell community she said:

"All of you I know have dreams – dreams of college, of success, of love and happiness – dreams of the future. We with cystic fibrosis have dreams too. Your wonderful all-out efforts and work for this dance-a-thon may help make some of our dreams come true."

Two months later, she too died of this disease.[citation needed]

Over the past 43 years, O'Connell students have raised over $4,500,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for the disease. Bishop Denis J. O'Connell's Superdance is the largest high school fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in the nation, and one of the largest high school fundraising events in the country.[citation needed]

Chunky Soup Drive[edit]

The Chunky Soup Drive is held annually throughout the month of October. Students have a month to collect as many cans of Chunky Soup as possible. At the end of the month, cans are collected and donated to Christ House homeless shelter in Alexandria, Virginia. According to the school, this event yields over 8,000 cans of soup each year.[15] In 2017, students collected the highest number of cans ever: over 14,500.[16]

Notable alumni[edit]

  • Bryan Louiselle (1984): Music Adaptation and Arrangement, notable for Disney's High School Musical[17]
  • Edward DeMarco (1978): former acting director of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency (FHFA)
  • Pat McGee (1991): Singer, songwriter, guitarist; founding member and frontman of the Pat McGee Band.
  • John Cherundolo. (1966) A three sport star sthlete at O'Connell Cherundolo went on to attend College at Syracuse where was a star football player and wrestler. After graduating Law School he was a trial lawyer and was appointed as a New York State Supreme Court Judge.





  • John Arsala (1995): Played professionally in Europe for Polonia Warsaw. Member of the United States National Olympic Development Program: 1991–2000.

Women's Soccer[edit]

  • Nataly Arias (2004): Member of the Colombia National Soccer team during the 2011 Woman's World Cup in Germany


  • Kate Ziegler (2006): Former World record holder in the 1500m freestyle


On the morning of May 7, 2002, on D.C. metro area shock jock Elliot Segal's radio program, DC101's Elliot in the Morning was conducting a contest. The winners of this contest would be cage dancers at an upcoming Kid Rock concert at George Mason University's Patriot Center. Two sixteen-year-old O'Connell pupils, claiming to be eighteen, called the show, and disclosed alleged sexual activity at O'Connell.[20] The principal addressed pupils over the PA system and criticized the content of the radio show.[21] The two days of broadcasting were ruled indecent by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). As a result, in October 2003, sixteen months after the incident, DC101's parent company Clear Channel Communications was fined $55,000.[22]


  1. ^ a b Statistical information gathered from O'Connell's official site's O'Connell: Academic - Profile
  2. ^ SACS-CASI. "SACS-Council on Accreditation and School Improvement". Archived from the original on April 29, 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-23.
  3. ^ "DJO" is an abbreviation for "Denis J. O'Connell."
  4. ^ Advanced placement course listings taken from Academics: AP Program Archived May 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine on O'Connell's official site.
  5. ^ a b Only offered as a combined AP Physics C Electromagnetism and Mechanics class
  6. ^ a b Only offered as a combined Macro/Micro Economics class
  7. ^ Honors course listing found on individual department pages within O'Connell's Academics: Available Courses Archived May 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine page.
  8. ^ Statistics taken from O'Connell Boys' Basketball page Archived October 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  9. ^ National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)
  10. ^ Club names/info taken from O'Connell Clubs Page Archived May 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  11. ^ Helping Hands
  12. ^ Martha's Table
  13. ^ Pure Love Club
  14. ^ S.A.V.E.
  15. ^ O'Connell Admissions Page Archived May 29, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  16. ^ DJO SCA [@djo_sca] (October 6, 2017). "Extremely happy to announce that this year we have broken the can count record with a whopping 14,595 cans! Good job O'Connell!" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  17. ^ Bryan Louiselle Archived October 20, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  18. ^ O'Connell Boys' Basketball official site Archived October 7, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ [1].
  20. ^ Atlantic Magazine article on the incident: Air Pollution
  21. ^ Mission Statement: "Our mission is to provide students an education rooted in the life of Christ and to foster the pursuit of excellence in the whole person." (quoted from O'Connell Website Archived 2007-02-13 at the Wayback Machine)
  22. ^ FCC Announcement of Fine (Released October 2, 2003)

External links[edit]