Roman Catholic High School
|The Roman Catholic High School of Philadelphia|
Fides et Scientia
(Faith and Knowledge)
|301 North Broad Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107
|Religious affiliation(s)||Roman Catholic|
|Founder||Thomas E. Cahill|
|Oversight||Archdiocese of Philadelphia|
|Rector||Rev. Joseph W. Bongard|
|Principal||Robert P. O'Neill|
|Asst. Principal||Terrence Kane
Brian Conroy '91
|Student to teacher ratio||20.1:1|
|Color(s)||Purple and Gold|
|Athletics conference||Philadelphia Catholic League|
|Accreditation||Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools|
|Publication||Roamings (literary magazine)|
|Yearbook||Purple and Gold|
|Alma Mater||The Purple and Gold|
The Roman Catholic High School of Philadelphia opened in 1890 as an all-male high school located at the intersection of Broad and Vine Streets in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Roman Catholic, or simply "Roman", as it is often called, was founded by Thomas E. Cahill, a nineteenth-century Philadelphia merchant. Cahill saw the need to create a school that offered a free Catholic education for boys, past their grammar school years. He died before he saw his vision come to life; however, the wishes that he laid out in his will were followed. As such, Roman Catholic opened its doors in 1890 and offered a free education to boys. Despite Cahill's dream, due to increased costs of staff and facilities, free admission to the school ended in the 1960s.
Crisis of the 1980s
In 1985, the Archdiocese slated the school for closing due to lowering enrollment. However, Roman's alumni association, with the blessing of the Archbishop of Philadelphia Cardinal John Krol, embarked on a campaign to save the school.
Roman's Alumni Association, which had existed for over 70 years, came together to raise funds and increase enrollment. The rector of the school even applied to have the building itself kept as a historic landmark, which was accepted. The significance of the historic landmark designation means the building on the corner of Broad and Vine Streets can never legally be torn down. Also, its exterior must always stay the same — though it does not have to remain a school.
The "New" Roman
Before 1986, students who attended Roman were from "feeder parishes"; Roman served as the school for the boys from the Center City, Chinatown, East Falls, Fairmount, Manayunk, North Philadelphia, and Roxborough regions of Philadelphia.
Today, however, Roman enrolls boys from almost every Philadelphia neighborhood, including The Near and Far Northeast, West Philadelphia, Fishtown, Port Richmond, Mayfair, South Philly, New Jersey, Fox Chase, and the outlying suburbs.
Roman Catholic was built to hold about 750 to 800 students. However, because of high demand, it is above capacity and holds closer to 1100. To select its students, Roman holds an entrance test every October, November, and December. Of the 600 or 700 students that apply, only about 300 to 350 will be accepted. Students who do well on these tests also may receive scholarships ranging from a few hundred dollars to as much as $4000 a year. Usually, about 40 students receive scholarships.
Roman, like other high schools, has a tracking system: that is, first track (also called honors track), second track, and third track. Roman, however, is unique in that it tracks its honors class into three classes. While students in the honors classes learn the same material at the same pace, it creates a better learning system to have students of the same level together.
Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, Roman announceed the implementation of a 1:1 iPad initiative, starting with the incoming freshmen. Due to the ever-changing face of education, students require different tools and strategies. The initiative will allow students and teachers to individualize and differentiate instruction in a way that is familiar to today's students. Students will work on essential 21st century skill sets needed to meet state and national standards.
Sexual abuse scandal
In July 2011, Philadelphia magazine published an article by Robert Huber regarding the 2011 grand jury report, which documented new charges of child sexual abuse by priests active in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The article included the story of Joe, a 59-year-old who spoke of his abuse at the hands of Father Schmeer when in the ninth grade at Roman Catholic High School.
The school is located on the northeast corner of Broad and Vine Streets, and was designed in the Gothic Revival architecture. Faced in marble, it stands on a granite foundation. The building originally had a 150-foot marble tower topped in copper, which burned down in 1959. The original three-story building received a two-story additional wing in 1953, where the physics and biology labs and the cafeteria are located.
Another addition – which included additional class rooms, offices, an Information Center, TV studio and computer lab – began construction in 1997. It also increased the size of the cafeteria. Then, in 2006, the 13th Street Annex, dedicated to James McSherry, an alumnus and benefactor to the school, was opened. This facility houses a sports training center, a multi-purpose room and the alumni association offices. More additions to the school are planned.
The "JOHN AND MARY MCSHAIN LIBRARY AND INFORMATION CENTER" was renovated in the summer of 2013. The new Information Center added more tables and chairs for students to study, do homework, or read. It also added new and sleek computers for the students to use and a faster copier and printer.
Roman Catholic has been prominent in the Philadelphia Catholic League in basketball since the League's inception, winning 29 championship games since 1920. In 2015, Catholic High won the Philadelphia Catholic league Title (PCL), Philadelphia City Title (District XII) and Pennsylvania Boys Class AAAA (Large School) State Championship.
Roman has also had success in football. In the 2006 playoffs, Roman finished with a strong 9-3 record while losing to La Salle in the second round of Catholic League playoffs. In 2007, Roman defeated Northeast Catholic, and Father Judge en route to a win in the Catholic League Championship, 10-9 over St. Joseph's Prep. This was Roman's best record ever at 12-2. This marks the team's second Red Division championship since the inception of the new Catholic League format, which began in 1999 and ended in 2007.
Roman also has a rivalry with the public high school Roxborough High. This rivalry is has started an annual Thanksgiving Day football game; a game Roman Catholic has beat Roxborough at for decades.
Roman Catholic is home to one of the most successful crews in North America, practicing for over 10 months a year. Roman's crew team sculls (using two oars per man while rowing) rather than sweeps (using one oar a man while rowing). Recently it contributed a Lightweight Four to the Philadelphia Catholic League Rowing championships, finishing second in 2005 to Monsignor Bonner High School by six-tenths of a second. Roman's major sculling rivals are The Haverford School, Conestoga High School, and Malvern Preparatory School. In 2003 and 2005, two Roman students represented the United States at the Junior World Championships in Athens, Greece, & Brandenburg, Germany. In 2006, 2010, and 2012 the team won the Philadelphia Catholic League Championship.
Roman's golf team has enjoyed many years of success as one of the top teams in the league. Led by Coach Daniel Hoban '92, a PGA professional, the team has been able to work well together and learn many aspects of the game from Coach Hoban which has propelled the team to immediate success. Although this past season was a rebuilding year, the team still finished with a 12-5 record for the regular season but finished with a disappointing 8th out of 9th place at the Catholic League Championships.
Roman's ice hockey team has become a great part of the sports department. From its start in 1993, they have won 4 championships; 2000, 2002, 2010, and 2013.
- Michael Bantom (1969), member of the 1972 Olympic Basketball team, NBA player, and later NBA executive.
- John J. Bonner (1908), Founder of the Philadelphia Catholic League, 2 years before the PIAA. Remembered as greatest educator of his time.
- Michael Joseph Bransfield, current Bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.
- Joseph I. Breen (1906), Hollywood movie censor; Variety magazine said of him: "More than any single individual, he shaped the moral stature of the American motion picture"; winner of an Academy Award
- Rasual Butler (1998), NBA player.
- Dallas Comegys (1983), successful college career at DePaul University, NBA player.
- Robert Evans (1949), First African American Captain of University of Pennsylvania Football Team.
- John Facenda (1933), a radio and television broadcast fixture in Philadelphia from the 1930s through the early 1980s. He is perhaps best known as the deep baritone narrator of NFL Films.
- Charles Fuller (1955), playwright and screenwriter won the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for A Soldier's Play, a story about racism in the military.
- Eddie Griffin (2000), NCAA All-American at Seton Hall University, drafted by the Houston Rockets in the first round of the 2001 NBA Draft.
- Matt Guokas, Sr. (1934), played for the Philadelphia Warriors 1947 championship team. Father of Matt Guokas, Jr.
- Charles Hammock, Member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives
- Marvin Harrison (1991), one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history.
- Marc Jackson (1993), successful college career at Temple University, NBA player.
- Jim Katcavage (1952), 13-year NFL player with the New York Giants, 3 Pro Bowls.
- Lari Ketner (1995), successful college career at University of Massachusetts Amherst, NBA player.
- James P. McGranery (1914), Attorney General of the United States of America under President Harry S. Truman.
- Charles McIlvaine (Hon. Diploma awarded 2014), Member & Gold medalist of the 1928 US Olympic rowing team.
- Art McNally (1943), former Director of Officiating for the National Football League (NFL) from 1968 to 1990
- William "Speedy" Morris (1960), famed Roman Catholic High School and La Salle University basketball coach.
- Larry Neal (1956), noted scholar of African American theater, professor at Yale University, and playwright who was a leader of the Black Arts Movement.
- Glenn Ochal (2004), member & Bronze medalist of the 2012 US Olympic rowing team.
- Scott Paxson (2001) former Penn State all conference defensive tackle.
- Joseph A. Pepe (1960), current Bishop of the Diocese of Las Vegas.
- Albert F. Sabo (1938), judge who presided over the Mumia Abu-Jamal murder case.
- Bob Schafer (1951), Villanova University player, NBA player.
- Frank Schell (1899), (Francis Reamer Schell) - Gold Medal American rower who competed in the 1904 Summer Olympics.
- Daniel J. Terra (Graduate Year TBD),United States' first and only Ambassador at Large for Cultural Affairs
- Daniel E. Thomas (1977), current Bishop of the Diocese of Toledo.
The Purple and Gold
When Day mounts the East, What flag does he hold?
He flings out his banner of Purple and Gold!
And when at the eve, He sinks to his rest,
With Purple and Gold still aflame is the West!
Then stand by the flag, The young and the old!
Its colors are yours – The Purple and the Gold!
A smile on the lip, A tear in the eye,
Salute ye the colors of Catholic High!
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!
- Msgr. Hugh T. Henry
- MSA-CSS. "MSA-Commission on Secondary Schools". Retrieved July 31, 2009.
- "Roman Catholic High School - News". Romancatholichs.com. Retrieved July 29, 2012.
- Huber, Robert, "Catholics in Crisis: Sex and Deception in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia", Philadelphia magazine, July 2011. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
- Huber, Robert, "Inside the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Sex-Abuse Scandal", Philadelphia magazine blog, June 23, 2011 10:21AM. Retrieved July 28, 2011.
- "History" on the Roman Catholic High School website
- Pray, Rusty (May 10, 2002). "Albert F. Sabo, 81, Abu-Jamal trial judge". The Philadelphia Inquirer. p. B7.
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