West Philadelphia Catholic High School

Infobox Secondary school
name = West Philadelphia Catholic High School

motto= United in Faith, Loyalty, Knowledge
type = Private secondary (Parochial)
grades = 9–12
established= Boys - 1916, Girls - 1926, Co-Ed - 1989
city = Philadelphia
state = Pennsylvania
country = USA
enrollment = 819
mascot = Burr
president =
principal =
newspaper =
website = http://www.westcatholic.org

West Philadelphia Catholic High School is a co-educational Catholic high school in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. It is located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at 45th and Chestnut Streets. West Catholic, as it is commonly referred to, is located in the University City neighborhood of West Philadelphia. It is within walking distance of the University of Pennsylvania and Drexel University. It is very close to the following three public schools: West Philadelphia High School, Overbrook High School, and Parkway West High School.

Mission Statement

West Philadelphia Catholic High School is a Catholic Community of Academic Excellence in an urban setting open to all students. The school's academic, technological, and co-curricular programs help develop our diverse student body into young men and women of strong moral character prepared to accept the challenges of a dynamic, ever changing global society. We believe that education is a life-long process and that the school, parents, and students are partners in the moral and academic learning experience.

Early Beginnings

West Catholic started out in 1916 as West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys. The school was built as a response to the need for secondary Catholic education in West Philadelphia. The school was placed in the hands of the Society of Mary, commonly known as the Marianists brothers and priests. From 1916 until 1926, the Marianists headed the school community. In 1926, the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools assumed the responsibility of the education and spiritual development of young men of West Catholic. To this day, the Christian Brothers continue to have a large influence in the West Catholic community and instill the Lasallian spirit of community, faith, and service for the advancement of others.

In September of 1927, as another response to the need for Catholic secondary education for young women, West Philadelphia Catholic Girls High School was created. The faculty comprised thirty-two religious nuns of six different orders and three laywomen. Each religious order brought a distinct educational style. Because of this, the young women were exposed to a variety of Catholic religious traditions. While both schools thrived strongly through the 1950s, the changing economy of the surrounding neighborhoods caused enrollment to severely drop in both schools. This steady drop continued for thirty years and it then became obviously necessary that the two schools needed to be combined.

The co-educational West Philadelphia Catholic High School opened its doors on September 8, 1989. Today, they continue their

"tradition of excellence by fostering the intellectual, physical, and spiritual growth of hundreds of young men and women of various cultures and backgrounds."

The Brothers of the Christian Schools

The Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, also known as the Christian Brothers, the Lasallian Brothers, the French Christian Brothers, or the De La Salle Brothers, is a Roman Catholic religious teaching order, founded by French Priest Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle.

De La Salle was a canon of the cathedral and came from a wealthy family. He dreamed of setting up free schools where the children of the working and poor class citizens could learn reading, writing and arithmetic and also receive religious instruction and other training appropriate for forming good Christians.

There are countless Christian Brothers that still today work in the school.

On another note, St. Jean-Baptiste de la Salle is the school's Patron Saint.

Alma Mater

West Catholic Alma Mater

We're a new generation!
Born of long tradition!
Years of dedication!
To God and education!

Faith, knowledge, loyalty we hold
Shining in light...blue, white, and gold.
Our minds, our hearts, our bodies, too
Grow in this school where dreams come true!

West Catholic High, West Catholic High
We sing your praises clear!
We're proud you're our Alma Mater
You're the "best", West Catholic High!

United yet diversified
Facing our future side by side
Growing, learning, moving ahead,
West Catholic, we will not forget. "(Repeat Refrain)"

Academic Achievements

Based on the school's

student focus and support; school organization and culture; challenging standards and curriculum; active teaching and learning; professional community; leadership and educational vitality; school, family, and community partnerships, and indicators of success,
the Blue Ribbon Schools program (in affiliation with the United States Department of Education) has awarded West Catholic the prestigious 'Blue Ribbon School of Excellence' recognition several times.

West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys was named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the Blue Ribbon Schools program in the academic year of 1983-1984 Co-Educational West Philadelphia Catholic High School was also named a Blue Ribbon School of Excellence by the Blue Ribbon Schools program in the academic years of 1994-1996.

Post West Catholic- West Catholic graduates have gone on to attend the nations top higher education institutions such as Swarthmore, NYU, Georgetown, Columbia, Stanford, Harvard, the University of Pennsylvania, among many others. Graduates seem to have an affinity for its neighboring Ivy League UPenn since most Ivy League bound West grads will attend UPenn. Typically, around 5% of the graduating class will attend an Ivy League institution. Given the makeup of West Catholic's student body being mostly inner- city students, this is an impressive feat.

West Catholic graduates also have a rich history of earning prestigious scholarships for their higher learning. Recent graduates have achieved Hispanic Heritage Youth Awards, Gates Millennium Scholarships, Nelson Scholarships, Mayors Scholarships, a F.C. Haab Science Scholarship, and many others.

Below are statistics of West Catholic's recent graduating classes and some of their academic achievements-

Class of 2005165 Graduates152 (92%) attending further schooling192 Scholarships/Grants Awarded$7,531,023 in Scholarship/Grantmoney Awarded

Class of 2004170 Graduates156 (92%)attending further schooling176 Scholarships/Grants Awarded$5,545,025 in Scholarship/Grantmoney Awarded

Class of 2003192 Graduates173 (91%) attending further schooling133 Scholarships/Grants Awarded$5,008,135 in Scholarship/Grantmoney Awarded

Class of 2002188 Graduates171 (91%) attending further schooling118 Scholarships/Grants Awarded$4,507,018 in Scholarship/Grantmoney Awarded

Class of 2001190 Graduates172 (91%) attending further schooling86 Scholarships/Grants Awarded$4,237,965 in Scholarship/Grantmoney Awarded

Major Athletic Achievements

West Catholic is a member of the Philadelphia Catholic League. In Football, West Catholic is a part of the Blue Division. The Blue Division comprises schools with smaller enrollment than that of the schools in the Red Division. In Football, the League does not have an official League Champion, instead, they have 2 champions (having one from each division). West Catholic Boys and Girls Track Have won numerous championships.Note girls indoor track team came in second in the PCL cahampionship.

In all other sports, West Catholic is in the Southern Division.

Football Highs and 'Woes'

In the 2006 football season, varsity Head Coach Brian Fluck led his team to the Blue Division championship for the fourth straight time. The previous three had all resulted in losses to Archbishop Wood High School. It seemed as if the fourth time would have to be a charm, with many key senior role players soon exiting. The Burrs won their matchup against the Vikings on December 2, 2006. The Blue Division Championship plaque currently resides in the West Catholic main office.

Championship History

West Catholic has won many football championships, which has resulted in the school's publicity on many forms of local sports on a regular basis. The following is a listing of the championship wins, the year they were won, and the winning head coach:

*1925: Tom Tracey
*1932: Jocko McGarry
*1940: Bob Dougherty
*1941: Bob Dougherty
*1943: Bob Dougherty
*1944: Bob Dougherty
*1945: Bill McCoy
*1946: Bill McCoy
*1951: Jack Shields
*1962: Vince McAneney
*1965: John McAneney
*2006: Brian Fluck
*2007: Brian Fluck


West Catholic is currently second in the Catholic League's list of the Most Football Championships Won (behind Saint Joseph's Prep who holds the title with 15 championships won)


West Catholic has won many men's basketball championships, the following is a listing of the championships won, the year they were won, and the winning head coach:

*1921: Brother Michael Quinlan
*1931: Jocko McGarry
*1938: Pat Conway
*1949: Joe Langan
*1952: Jim Usilton, Jr.
*1953: Jim Usilton, Jr.
*1955: Jim Usilton, Jr.
*1959: Jack Devine

In 1974 West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Girls won the city championship at the Palestra!


West Catholic is currently fourth in the Catholic League's list of Most Basketball Championships Won (with the leader being Roman Catholic High School who holds the title with 27 basketball championships won).


West's administration comprises a president, principal, and several assistant principals.The following information is current as of the 2008-2009 academic year:

*Brother Tim Ahern, F.S.C. - President
*Sister Mary Bur, I.H.M. - Principal
*Brother Patrick Cassidy, fsc- Assistant Principal of Academic Affairs
*Mr. John Jackson - Assistant Principal of Student Services
*Ms. Mary DeMasi - Assistant Principal of Student Affairs
*Mr. Brian Fluck - Head of Admissions Department

School Trivia


West Catholic is easily accessible via the SEPTA Market-Frankford Line, as it is only one block away from the 46th Street Station. It is also fairly located near the 31 and 64 SEPTA bus routes.


West Catholic School for Girls was located near the Philadelphia television studios where American Bandstand was first broadcast in the 1950s, and many girls from West regularly attended the show. The sisters forbade the girls from wearing their uniforms on TV, so the girls would simply wear cardigans over their uniforms and pull their blouses' rounded collars out. As a result, "Peter Pan collars" became the rage because the dancers on American Bandstand (the West Catholic girls) were wearing them.

chool Icons

The school's Patroness is Mary, Mother of God.

West's school colors are blue, gold, and white.

The West Catholic mascot is a burr. The legend as to why this is dates back to the beginning years of West Catholic High School for Boys. Legend goes that all Catholic school students, mainly boys, wore similar clothing; thus it was hard to distinguish school from school. But, there were many burr trees lined up along Chestnut street, and the falling burrs got stuck on some of the West boys clothing as they walked to school. Therefore, many people could recognize West Catholic boys easily, just by looking at them and seeing burrs.

While West's mascot is a burr, their live mascot is a character called "Burr-Man". He is a male in a costume flourished in vibrant cartoonish-shades of the school colors. He does not resemble a burr, but still, he is referred to as Burr-Man.

tudent Body Makeup

West's ethnicity percentage makes it very diverse among other Catholic schools in the Archdiocese:

Ethnicity ["(Source NCES, 2003-2004)"]

*Black - 68.86%
*White - 21.61%
*Asian/Pacific Islander - 7.81%
*Hispanic - 1.7%
*American Indian/Alaskan Native - 0%


West Catholic has Membership Association ties to the National Catholic Education Association (NCES).

West Catholic is a member of the Philadelphia Catholic League and is in the Southern and Blue Divisions in their respective sports.

This will soon change since West Catholic, and the rest of the Philadelphia Catholic League, will be joing the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association.

Notable Alumni

Senator Philip Hart- Senator from Michigan

Raymond J. Broderick- Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania

John Cardinal O'Connor- Former Cardinal of New York City

Peter Boyle- Actor

tudent Body Census

There are currently 819 students attending West Catholic: ["(current as of the 2006-2007 academic year)"]

*Freshman: 222
*Sophomores: 210
*Juniors: 196
*Seniors: 191

External links



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