Gonzaga College High School
Gonzaga College High School is a Jesuit High School for boys located in Washington, DC.
Gonzaga was founded by Father Antoine Kohlmann, an Alsatian Jesuit, in 1821. It was at first called Washington Seminary and was located on F Street, near 10th Street, N.W. in a building adjoining St 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. Gonzaga was reopened some twenty years later and President Zachary Taylor presided at the commencement exercizes in 1849.
In 1858, Gonzaga was given a charter by Congress, which permitted it (and, in theory, permits it still) to grant degrees, and in the next year, the school moved to a building (now called Kohlmann Hall) in the Swampoodle area north of the US Capitol. Enrolments declined owing to the distance of the new neighbourhood from the centre, but the Jesuits perservered and by the end of the century the school was once again flourishing. A theatre was built in 1887, and a large new classroom building (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.
Gonzaga benefitted 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 enrolments and the great inner-city riot of 1968 led some to suggest that Gonzaga should be closed. However, the Jesuits once again persisted, and the school survived. In the last years of the 20th century, the school even expanded, adding several new buildings and a large playing field and field house. Today Gonzaga has regained its former status, and has been described in a Wall Street Journal editorial as "the premier Catholic high school of Washington."
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