Gonzaga College High School

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Gonzaga College High School
19 "Eye" St., NW
Washington, D. C. 20001
Coordinates 38°54′06″N 77°00′37″W / 38.9018°N 77.0103°W / 38.9018; -77.0103Coordinates: 38°54′06″N 77°00′37″W / 38.9018°N 77.0103°W / 38.9018; -77.0103
Type Private, college-prep, day
Motto Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
(For the Greater Glory of God)
Denomination Roman Catholic (Jesuit)
Established 1821; 196 years ago (1821)
Founder Anthony Kohlmann, S.J.
President Father Stephen W. Planning, S.J.
Headmaster Thomas K. Every, II
Gender Boys
Enrollment 930 (2011)
 • Grade 9 230
 • Grade 10 240
 • Grade 11 240
 • Grade 12 240

Purple and White

Song Alma mater
Athletics conference WCAC
Mascot Eagle
Accreditation MSA[1]
Newspaper The Aquilian
Tuition $20,125
Gonzaga College High School - Washington, D.C..JPG

Gonzaga College High School is a Jesuit high school for boys located in Washington, D.C. It is named in honor of St. Aloysius Gonzaga, an Italian saint from the 16th century. Gonzaga is the oldest boys' high school in the District of Columbia and also the oldest college in the original federal city of Washington.[2]


Gonzaga was officially founded by Fr. Anthony Kohlmann, a Jesuit, in 1821, though there is some evidence the school began a few years earlier. It is the oldest educational facility in the original federal city of Washington and was at first called Washington Seminary, operating under the charter of Georgetown College (now Georgetown University), which was becoming too crowded for its space at the time.[2] Gonzaga's original location was on F Street near 10th Street, N.W., in a building adjoining Saint Patrick's Church. The school was immediately popular among Catholic families and was well enough known in its early years to attract the attention of President John Quincy Adams, who visited the school to test the boys' Latin and Greek. However, there were financial problems that caused the Jesuits to withdraw in 1827: their order prohibited the charging of tuition at a day school for youth. It continued to be run by laity until the Jesuits returned some twenty years later (with the ordinance regarding tuition changed); President Zachary Taylor presided at the commencement exercises in 1849.

In 1858, Gonzaga was granted its own charter by Congress as a college empowered to confer degrees in the arts and sciences, which accounts for its name (Gonzaga College) to this day. Although some students did receive bachelor's degrees in the 19th century, Gonzaga no longer confers degrees, other than honorary doctorates presented to commencement speakers or other notable guests. In 1871, the school moved to a building (now called Kohlmann Hall) in the Swampoodle area north of the U.S. Capitol, just down the block from St. Aloysius Church – built in 1859 and now on the U.S. Register of Historic Buildings. Enrollment declined owing to the distance of the new neighborhood from the center, but the Jesuits persevered and by the end of the 19th century the school was once again flourishing. A theater was built in 1896 and a large new classroom building (previously the Main Building and now called Dooley Hall) was opened in 1912.

The curriculum of Gonzaga from its founding until the late 20th century was at once rigorously classical and emphatically Catholic. Mastery of Latin and deep involvement in the Catholic religion were at its core. Standards were high, and many hopeful boys who lacked the necessary qualities for success were denied admittance. To this day, Gonzaga admits approximately one third of those who apply.

Gonzaga benefited greatly from the fact that the row houses built in Swampoodle were largely occupied by Irish Catholics from the late 19th century on. Although Gonzaga always drew students from other parts of the city as well, the departure of the Swampoodle Irish for the suburbs in the mid-20th century, and more especially their replacement by poorer non-Catholics, brought on another period of difficulties. A decline in enrollment and the great inner-city riot of 1968 led some to suggest that Gonzaga should be closed, or moved to a more affluent area. However, the Jesuits once again persisted and the school survived. In the last years of the 20th century Gonzaga expanded, adding several new buildings and a large playing field and field house. By 2007 Gonzaga had regained its former status and a Wall Street Journal editorial referred to it as "the premier Catholic high school of Washington."[3]

St. Aloysius[edit]

St. Aloysius is a parish church physically attached to Gonzaga through the entrance building Dooley Hall. The church was built in 1859. It is used for Masses, concerts, some school assemblies, and graduation. The large painting above the altar is the work of Constantino Brumidi, famous for painting the frescoes on the interior of the United States Capitol dome.


Gonzaga's athletic teams are called the Eagles. Gonzaga fields seventeen different varsity teams,[4] most of which compete in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference.

Gonzaga's 2007-2008 varsity basketball season was most successful with wins in the D.C. Classic, WCAC Championship, D.C. City Title, and Alhambra Catholic Invitational Tournament, and a 34-1 record. The Purple Eagles closed the season ranked 4th in the nation by ESPN and 10th in the nation by USA Today.[citation needed] The team also developed a massive following during the season, peaking with a cheering section drawing about 550 of its 930 students for the WCAC Championship game against O'Connell at American University.

Also in the 2007-2008 school year, Gonzaga's athletic program was ranked #12 in the country according to Sports Illustrated's "Top 25 High School Athletic Programs for 2007-2008".[citation needed]

During the 14-year run of the City Championship football series (1948–1962), Gonzaga appeared 4 times: 1948 - lost to Central 26-6; 1949 - defeated Wilson 12-7; 1955 - tied Cardozo 6-6; 1959 - defeated Eastern 7-6.

Gonzaga hockey won the state championship 3 years in a row from 2005 to 2007, and again in 2010, 2013, and 2014.

An Eastern Motors TV commercial with Clinton Portis and others was filmed at Gonzaga's athletic fields. The school can be seen to the left of the field and the Gonzaga purple flag in the background.

The Gonzaga soccer team won four consecutive WCAC championships from 2007–2010, and is consistently one of the best teams in the Washington area.[citation needed] They added additional championships in 2012 and 2016, beating national powerhouse DeMatha Catholic both times.

Gonzaga rugby has won 12 consecutive Potomac Rugby Union Championships and finished the 2010 season ranked #2 in the nation. In the middle of the 2011 season, Gonzaga beat the #1 ranked team in the nation and rival, Xavier, and became the #1 team in the nation. During the 2011 National Championship in Salt Lake City, Utah, Gonzaga finished 3rd. The Eagles won the High School Rugby National Championship in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

In 2009, Gonzaga crew's senior eight captured the silver medal at the Stotesbury Cup Regatta on the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia. This was the second time the boat qualified for the grand final (the first being in 2003) and the first medal in the senior eight division in team history. At the same regatta, the freshmen eight qualified for its second grand final and medaled for the first time in team history capturing the bronze medal. The following week, Gonzaga's senior eight won in the grand final at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America (SRAA) Nationals at Mercer Lake, New Jersey. This was the first National Championship won by a Gonzaga team. In 2014 they completed the "triple crown" of rowing championships by winning Stotesbury, SRAAs, and NSRA

In 2009, Gonzaga was named the best athletic program in the District of Columbia by Sports Illustrated.

Out of the past 17 seasons (2000-2016) Gonzaga Cross Country has finished in first, second, or third place in the WCAC Championship race every time. The team won the WCAC championship in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2012. Additionally, in 2010 the Gonzaga Cross Country team won the "triple crown" with first-place finishes in the WCAC Championship, the MD/DC Private/Independent Schools Championship, and the Jesuit Championship. The Eagles XC squad has won the Jesuit Championships in 1987, 2002, 2009, 2010, and 2016. The team also added their first victory at the DC State Championships during the 2016 season. 2016 marked another milestone for Gonzaga Cross Country. The JV Boys team managed to complete the "triple crown", winning the JV WCAC Championship, the JV MD/DC Private/Independent Schools Championship, and the JV Jesuit Championship.[5][6]

Relationship with other schools[edit]

Gonzaga's historical rivals are DeMatha and Georgetown Prep, but its main rival is St. John's, with a football rivalry renewed annually since 1918. This is considered the 2nd oldest high school rivalry between two Catholic high schools in the United States (trailing only the Bruce-Mahoney Trophy which started in 1892). In rowing, Gonzaga's rivalry with St. Alban's School is annually contested for the Foley Cup (known amongst students as the "God Cup") with Gonzaga currently leading 4-2.

Georgetown Visitation is the unofficial "sister school" of Gonzaga. Students of the two schools frequently attend each other's dances and athletic events and join for dramatic and choral productions, with their drama programs rivaling each other as the top two high school programs in the D.C. metro area. The girls of schools like Stone Ridge and Academy of the Holy Cross also attract the interest of the boys at Gonzaga.

Other clubs and activities[edit]

The Gonzaga Dramatic Association (GDA)[edit]

One of Gonzaga's oldest and proudest institutions, the Gonzaga Dramatic Association was officially formed in 1863 (though the school had been putting on plays for the previous forty-two years). There are two productions each year: a smaller comedy or classical play in the fall and a larger musical in the spring. The theater program is housed in the Gonzaga Theater (formerly known as Gonzaga Hall) which is the oldest, continuously-operated theater in the District of Columbia (going back to 1896).[7] The GDA has a rich tradition of drawing upon girls from all the region's schools to play the female parts in its performances. Its most recent production was "Curtains". GDA actors and actresses often become prominent in professional theater, and the Gonzaga Dramatic Association Hall of Fame was established in 1999 to honor these individuals (as well as those who continue to add to the theater at Gonzaga or elsewhere in their lives). The GDA inspires great loyalty in its members and five of eight current members of the production staff were involved in the GDA during their high school years. Older members of the GDA also help out in raising money for the Dr. John C. Warman Scholarship for performing arts students by putting on benefits where they sing songs from shows they were in.[8]

It's Academic[edit]

Gonzaga's It's Academic Team has been solid in Virginia-D.C.-Maryland tournaments since 1998. Also, on the It's Academic television show on NBC, they received third place in the 2006 final after winning in 1998. The team practices twice a week using practice questions that encompass geography, history, mythology, literature, art, and more. Their wins-losses in individual games are improving: 80-26 in 2002–2003, 91-22 in 2003–2004, 110-27 in 2004–2005, 106-32 in 2005–2006 when they finished as a quarter-finalist at the PACE national championships.[9] Then 151-35 in 2006–2007, competing in two national tournaments where they placed tied for 5th at the PACE-NSC tournament and 8th at the NAQT High School National Scholastic Tournament, their best records to date,[10] also winning at Princeton and Yale universities.[11]

Speech and debate[edit]

  • Gonzaga's Speech and Debate Team competes in Public Forum debate and is the oldest club at Gonzaga. Throughout its history, the team has had a multitude of top-place finishes in national tournaments, and has been extremely successful at tournaments in recent years including the Liberty Bell Tournament at the University of Pennsylvania and the Patriot Games Tournament at George Mason University. Gonzaga participates in the Washington Arlington Catholic Forensics League, which is part of the National Catholic Forensics League, and was ranked first and won the Washington and Arlington area Championship three years running. Their best finish at the National Catholic Forensic League Grand National Public Forum Tournament was 5th in 2012. The most successful run by Gonzaga's A-team however was made by Alexander DiMisa and Stephen Morris at the University of Pennsylvania's tourney.[12]

The Aquilian[edit]

Gonzaga's student newspaper, The Aquilian, was founded in 1940. Published throughout the school year, The Aquilian is also accessed at AquilianOnline.com.[13]

Community service[edit]

One important aspect of Gonzaga student life that sets it apart from that of other private schools in the area is the school's commitment to community service. Each senior must complete at least forty hours of service before graduation, and although there is no requirement for non-seniors, many students volunteer in programs like Food and Friends, the Father Horace McKenna Center, So Others Might Eat, or similar projects like the Sursum Corda Cooperative in an adjacent DC neighborhood that is marked by violence and poverty. Gonzaga's emphasis on community service reflects its students' desire to carry out their school motto, "Men for Others". In 2005, Gonzaga became the first high school to participate in the Campus Kitchen service project, a program previously undertaken only at the college level.

Notable faculty[edit]

Notable alumni[edit]

Gonzaga has had many famous alumni over the years, including athletes, senators, congressmen, a governor, and Presidential candidates.




Journalism and publishing[edit]






  1. ^ MSA-CSS. "MSA-Commission on Secondary Schools". Archived from the original on 2009-07-12. Retrieved 2009-06-23. 
  2. ^ a b Gonzaga College (1897). Sketch of Gonzaga College from its Foundation in 1821 till the Celebration of the Diamond Jubilee in 1896. 
  3. ^ History of Gonzaga
  4. ^ Gonzaga.org
  5. ^ https://sites.google.com/site/crosscountrygonzaga/historical-results-and-records
  6. ^ http://va.milesplit.com/meets/154858/results#
  7. ^ GDA history
  8. ^ Gonzaga drama
  9. ^ Pace
  10. ^ NAQT 2007
  11. ^ Gonzaga website
  12. ^ Gonzaga.org
  13. ^ Gonzaga.org
  14. ^ Ewers
  15. ^ Gonzaga,org
  16. ^ McAleer

External links[edit]