Saint Joseph's Preparatory School

Saint Joseph's Preparatory School, founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania in 1851, is a Catholic, urban, college preparatory school for young men. The school is operated by the Society of Jesus.

St. Joseph’s College opened in the buildings of St. Joseph’s Parish off Willings Alley, just a few blocks from Independence Hall. 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 1876, 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 Girard 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 1969 at the same location. 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.

St. Joseph's was one of several 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.

It continues to place great importance on community service, and is a valued neighbor in its North Philadelphia location.


"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."[1]

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 70 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 through the Ignatian Service Program. Course requirements include: Six years of 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 semester), 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 computer science, English, history, Latin, mathematics, psychology and science. All students enrolled in Advanced Placement courses are required to take the Advanced Placement examinations.[2]

Accreditations: The Prep is fully accredited by the Pennsylvania State Department of Public Instruction and the Middle States Association of Colleges and Secondary 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.[3]

Prep Community

St. Joseph's Preparatory School, one of forty-five (45) 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 graduates consistently advance to the country's most selective colleges and universities, including the University of Notre Dame, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Middlebury College, Boston College, the University of Pennsylvania, Carnegie Mellon University, Yale University, Georgetown University, Harvard University, Brown University, the College of the Holy Cross, Trinity College, Johns Hopkins University and Princeton University.

Capital Campaign

The Prep has initiated a $30 million dollar capital campaign, which involves transforming the nearby former Jesuit Residence (adjacent to the Gesu Church) into a new academic center. The new renovations are meant ease pressure on the main academic building (currently holding almost 1,000 students, while designed for a smaller population) and allow the Prep to provide more need-based scholarships and better implementation of technology.


All of the Prep's athletic teams compete in the Philadelphia Catholic League (16 schools); most participate in the eight-member Southern Division. The Prep is set to join the PIAA in 2007-2008 school year.

Fall: Cross Country, Football (varsity, junior varsity and freshmen), Crew (varsity and junior varsity), Soccer (varsity, junior varsity and freshmen), and Golf.

Winter: Basketball (varsity, junior varsity and freshmen), Bowling (varsity and junior varsity), Indoor Track, Swimming and Wrestling (varsity and junior varsity).

Spring: Baseball (varsity, junior varsity, and freshman), Crew (varsity, junior varsity and freshmen), Lacrosse, Outdoor Track and Tennis.

In addition, the Prep offers a number of sports at the club level including Ice Hockey (Varsity AAA, Varsity A, JV), Rugby (A side, B side, U-16), and Ultimate (Frisbee).

Notable Alumni

  • Robert L. Barchi — President of Thomas Jefferson University (1964)
  • Tony Braithwaite — Barrymore Award-winning actor (1989)
  • Tom Burgoyne — World-famous Phillie Phanatic (1983)
  • William J. Byron, SJ — Former President of Catholic University and the University of Scranton; current President of the Prep (1945)
  • A. Bruce Crawley — Chairman of the Philadelphia African-American Chamber of Commerce (1963)
  • John J. Dougherty — Chairman of Philadelphia's Redevelopment Authority; union leader (1978)
  • John Patrick Foley — Catholic archbishop, president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications (1953)
  • Andrew von Eschenbach — Commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration
  • Vincent Fumo — Pennsylvania state senator (1960)
  • Rich Gannon — Former professional football player (1983)
  • Keith Forkin - United States Marine Corps Officer (1989)
  • Henry Gibson — Star of Laugh-In (1953)
  • William J. Green — Former Congressman and Mayor of Philadelphia (1956)
  • Matt Guokas — Former Philadelphia 76ers and Orlando Magic head coach (1962)
  • Victor Hobson — New York Jets linebacker (1998)
  • Henry Jones — Tony Award winning actor (1931)
  • Maximillian Potter -Award-winning non-fiction writer and the executive editor of Denver's city magazine, 5280 (1989)
  • Joseph Rispo - Manager of Jimmy's Auto (1989)
  • Joseph Haenn - The proud wearer of the piano tie with suit jacket sleeves pulled up past past his elbows. (1989)
  • James F. Kenney — Philadelphia City Councilman (D) (1976)
  • Rear Admiral Joseph F. Kilkenny — Commander, U.S. Navy Recruiting Command (1973)
  • Jim Knowles — Head coach, Cornell University football team (1983)
  • Phil Martelli — Head coach, Saint Joseph's University basketball team (1972)
  • James T. McDermott, Jr. — President, Philadelphia Regional Port Authority (1973)
  • Rob McElhenney — creator and star of the TV show It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia (1995)
  • Jim McKay — ABC Sports anchorman; contributor of services to 2006 FIFA World Cup (1939)
  • John McShain — American building contractor known as "The Man Who Built Washington"
  • Michael A. Nutter — Former Philadelphia City Councilman (D); Democratic Mayoral Nominee, Philadelphia (1975)
  • Brian J. O'Neill — Philadelphia City Councilman (R) (1967)
  • Michael Rady — Actor featured in The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (1999)
  • Matthew J. Ryan — former Pennsylvania House speaker (1950)
  • Joseph C. Stinson — Hollywood screenwriter, wrote the third Dirty Harry movie Sudden Impact, coined "Go ahead, make my day!" (1965)
  • Alexander Haig - former Secretary of State - Reagan Administration

Sexual Abuse Scandal

In November 2005, Charlie Ginn, a teacher at the school, resigned after allegations from 1996 were discovered that he had kissed two students. The school hired an independent firm to investigate.[4]



External links

Template:Jesuit Secondary Education Associationla: Schola Preparatoria Sancti Iosephi

Ad blocker interference detected!

Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.