St. Joseph's Preparatory School

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St. Joseph's Preparatory School
Men For and With Others
1733 West Girard Avenue
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19130
United States
Coordinates 39°58′21″N 75°9′53″W / 39.97250°N 75.16472°W / 39.97250; -75.16472Coordinates: 39°58′21″N 75°9′53″W / 39.97250°N 75.16472°W / 39.97250; -75.16472
Type Private
Motto Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
((For the greater glory of God))
Religious affiliation(s) Roman Catholic
Established 1851; 167 years ago (1851)
Oversight Society of Jesus
President Rev. John Swope, SJ '72
Principal John Petruzelli
Faculty 75
Grades 9-12
Gender Boys
Enrollment 959 (2014)
Student to teacher ratio 14-1
Campus size 6.5 acres (26,000 m2)
Color(s) Crimson and Gray         
Slogan Educating Men of Competence, Conscience & Compassion since 1851
Song Swing on Along With the Crimson
Athletics conference Philadelphia Catholic League
Mascot The Hawk
Team name Hawks
Rival La Salle College High School
Accreditation Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools[1]
Average SAT scores 1310
Average ACT scores 30
Newspaper The Hawkeye
Athletic Director Dennis Hart
Director of the Villiger Archives William Conners '80
Phila St.JosephPrep02.jpg

St. Joseph's Preparatory School, known as "The Prep", is an urban, private, Catholic, college preparatory school founded in 1851 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It is run by the Jesuits.


In 1851, St. Joseph’s College opened in the buildings of St. Joseph’s Parish off Willings Alley in Philadelphia, just a few blocks from Independence Hall. By then, a permanent church had replaced the old Chapel attached to the Jesuit Residence. On September 15, 1851, ninety-five students greeted Rev. Felix Barbelin, the first president of St. Joseph’s College, for their first day of class. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania chartered the school and it was incorporated as "The St. Joseph's College In The City of Philadelphia", on January 29, 1852.

In 1866, the land that is now St. Joseph's Prep was open country near the Centennial Exposition in Fairmount Park. Around this time, the Jesuits of the Maryland Province were planning to open another parish in a part of the city more conducive to operating a college. The Girard area seemed like a natural location because it was a blossoming suburb with Girard College, Eastern State Penitentiary, a hospital, and a reservoir nearby. Father Barbelin found an undeveloped block between 17th and 18th Streets and bounded on the north and south by Thompson and Stiles Streets. Here the Church of the Gesu and St. Joseph's Prep were built.

The Prep's school building, which had housed students for nearly 75 years, was almost completely destroyed by fire on the night of January 30, 1966. After fierce debate over the location and construction of a new school building – which included plans to relocate outside the city limits – the new Prep building, with modern (and fireproof) flourishes, opened in 1968 at the same location.

Church of the Gesu[edit]

In the early 1990s the Jesuits permitted the Gesu Parish to be closed, although the former parish school has been maintained as a private Catholic school. The Prep purchased the adjacent Church of the Gesu (named for the Society of Jesus' original church in Rome) from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It now serves as the school's chapel.

Church of the Gesu, built 1879-1888, towers after 1895


St. Joseph's was one of many religiously-affiliated secondary institutions in the Delaware Valley marked for changes in the early 1990s. At one point, the administration strongly considered a move from single-sex to co-educational classrooms due to low enrollment; similar changes had been implemented at other Jesuit secondary institutions such as Scranton Preparatory School. However, in subsequent years, both admissions and enrollment have substantially increased, removing the need for gender integration.

In the summer, The Prep hosts a pre-7th- and pre-8th-grade program for 3 weeks for girls and boys going into 7th and 8th grades. The program includes a variety of activities, including swimming, table tennis, wiffle ball, basketball, volleyball, and soccer. It also includes classes in computers, drama, math, and literature and language arts.


"The mission of St. Joseph’s Prep, as a Catholic, Jesuit, urban, college preparatory school, is to develop the minds, hearts, souls, and characters of young men in their pursuit of becoming men for and with others."[2]

In the summer of 2006, the Prep community began an intensive program of "mission renewal", so as to reaffirm the core tenets of the school's philosophy and thus differentiate it from similar Catholic secondary institutions in the area. This process is ongoing.


The Prep offers a four-year college preparatory program geared to intellectually talented students. Its faculty has an average of 17 years of service. Of the full-time faculty of approximately 80 men and women, over 91% possess master's degrees.

Graduation Requirements: To graduate, a student must complete 26 academic credits, satisfy the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania requirement for physical education and fulfill community service requirements (5 hours for freshman, 10 hours for sophomores, 20 hours for juniors, 40 hours for seniors) through the Ignatian Service Program. Course requirements include: five years of foreign language study (with a minimum of two years of a modern language, and two years of Latin or Greek), English (four years), Fine Arts (one year), history (three years, including one year of Government), mathematics (four years, or three years of mathematics and one year of computer science), religious studies (four years) and science (three years).

Special Academic Opportunities: Advanced Placement courses are offered in 15 areas of study, including English, history, Latin, mathematics, psychology, science, and computer science. All students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses are required to take the Advanced Placement examinations.[3]

Accreditations: The Prep is fully accredited by the Pennsylvania Department of Education and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. It is also an active member of the Jesuit Secondary Education Association, the National Catholic Education Association, the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools, and the Association of Delaware Valley Independent Schools.[4]


St. Joseph's Preparatory School, one of 57 Jesuit secondary institutions in the United States, is located just north of Center City Philadelphia. The present student body includes residents of metropolitan Philadelphia (30%), the surrounding suburban communities (50%), and New Jersey (20%).


The Prep's athletic teams compete in the Philadelphia Catholic League (16 schools). The Prep joined the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association in the 2007-2008 school year. The Prep offers the following athletic programs:

Fall: cross country, football (varsity, junior varsity, and freshmen), crew (varsity and junior varsity), rugby, soccer (varsity, junior varsity, and freshmen), squash (varsity and junior varsity), Ultimate Frisbee (club), and golf.

Winter: basketball (varsity, junior varsity, and freshmen), bowling (varsity and junior varsity), indoor track and field, swimming, wrestling (varsity and junior varsity), and ice hockey (varsity, junior varsity, and freshmen).

Spring: baseball (varsity, junior varsity, and freshman), crew (varsity, junior varsity, and freshmen), volleyball, lacrosse, outdoor track and field, tennis, Ultimate Frisbee (club), and rugby (varsity, junior varsity, freshmen/sophomore). Since 1987, the boys senior eight crew team has won the Edward T. Stotesbury Cup in national competition ten times.[5]

The Prep football team won back-to-back state championships, winning the Class AAAA State Championship in 2013 and 2014. Despite losing to La Salle College High School early in the 2015 playoffs, the St. Joseph's Prep Football team won the first ever AAAAAA PIAA State Championship. The Hawks defeated Pittsburgh Central Catholic by a score of 42-7 at HersheyPark Stadium in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

Notable alumni[edit]

Capital campaign[edit]

The Prep completed a $30 million capital campaign, which involved transforming the nearby former Jesuit Residence (adjacent to the Gesu Church) into a new academic center and cafeteria: Jesuit Hall and The Sauter Dining Hall. The renovations are meant to ease pressure on the main academic building (which held almost 1,000 students, while designed for a smaller student population), and allow the Prep to provide more need-based scholarships and better implementation of technology.[17]


  • Twyman, Anthony S., "Prepped for Politics". Philadelphia Inquirer. 23 November 2005.

External links[edit]