The School

Leo High School is a school with a long history of accomplishment.  The school has always been, and remains focused, on being an overwhelmingly positive force in the lives of the young men who attend.  This focus is the essence of what makes Leo High School the great institution it is, and the focus is translated into tangible philosophy and objectives in the student handbook, which is provided to every student who attends the school.  The section of the handbook which best describes Leo High School is reproduced below:

History and Philosophy
Pope Leo XIII – Leo High School’s Patron

The man chosen to succeed Pope Pius IX – and who took the name Leo XIII – was something of a surprise.  Cardinal Giocchino Vincenzo Peccihad spent little time in Rome, and for many of the electors was an unknown quantity.  The cardinals who chose him on February 20,1878 after only three ballots, had been impressed with the efficient way he had organized the conclave.

For the church to have any influence in the future, reasoned Leo, it would have to appeal directly to the working class, which was being increasingly attracted by socialism.  He wrote an encyclical letter against socialism in 1878, but his real appeal to the working class came later when, in 1891, he issued the first of the papal social encyclicals, Rerum Novarum.  What Leo recommended was a system of trade associations which embraced both workers and employers in the  same organization.

Pope Leo XIII was a man of strong faith and dogged determination.  He set himself firmly on the side of the working man and he was a powerful ally  at a time when few were in evidence.  He is a noble patron for the men of Leo, who might well emulate his example.

Historical Sketch of Leo High SchoolLeo High School

The need for a centralized high school which would bring Catholic education within the reach of young men from Chicago’s South Side was realized on September 7, 1926.  On that day, the newly completed Leo High School opened its doors to 122 registered freshmen.

Leo had been the dream of Monsignor Peter Shrewbridge, the pastor of St. Leo Parish from 1918.  Just as he had earlier administered zealously to the religious and educational demands of a very large, young parish, he also ably directed the foundation of the new high school.  With the encouragement and active support of His Eminence, George Cardinal Mundelein, Monsignor Shrewbridge obtained the services of the Congregation of Christian Brothers of Ireland, a religious community firmly established in the New York area and in the Pacific Northwest.  The ensuing years brought record enrollment and notable academic achievement.  Cultural and athletic activities served to win acclaim for Leo and Leo began to develop a tradition of which all graduates and faculty members can be justifiably proud. Within a short time a fourth floor of classrooms had to be added to the building, and a stadium.  Shrewbridge Field was built within walking distance of the school.  In 1952 the Brothers, who for twenty-six years has lived in adjacent apartment buildings, finally obtained a suitable residence.

In the mid-1960’s, when St. Leo Parish found itself unable to provide for a large high school, the Archdiocese for Chicago assumed shared responsibility with the Brothers for the continuance of Leo High School.  In 1976 Leo celebrated fifty years of dedicated service to the Catholic community of Chicago, and observed its sixtieth anniversary in 1986.

In 1992, the Christian Brothers of Ireland, because of dwindling manpower and vocations, withdrew their corporate commitment from Leo High School.  At this time, the role of principal was assumed by Mr. Robert (Bob) Foster, a 1958 graduate of Leo.  In 1997, Leo High School paid off a long standing debt to the Archdiocese.  Leo became debt free with a zero deficit and a balanced budget.  In 1998, Mr. Foster moved into the position of President, and with the approval of the Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Dr. Elaine Schuster, he appointed Mr. Peter Doyle as Principal, who served until 2003.  In 2003, Mr. Peter Doyle was succeeded by Mr. Robert Kman,  who served as principal for the following two years.  In 2005, Mr. Robert Kman was succeeded by Mr. Sean Stalling.  The current president of Leo High School is Daniel (Dan)  McGrath, who succeeded Bob Foster as President.  Like Bob Foster, Dan McGrath brings a lot of talent to the position of President of Leo High School.  In Dan McGrath’s case, he had a long career in journalism, which included serving as the Sports Editor at the Chicago Tribune, prior to taking his current position at Leo.

Philosophy and Objectives of Leo High School

The philosophy of Leo High School originates from the concept that Christian education is intended to “make men’s faith become living, conscious, and active, through the light of instruction.” (from The Bishop’s Office in the Church, p.14)

Our educational program is directed toward the growth of the whole person – a synthesis of faith, life and culture – through a Catholic faith community which proclaims the Good News of Jesus Christ and seeks to translate the proclamation into action.  We see each human being as created in God’s Image and, therefore, uniquely good and worthwhile.  We promote participation and development in understanding life as it is but we encourage the application of Jesus’ teachings as we seek to influence, for the better, the faith community of our world.

Leo High School, under the direction of the Catholic Archbishop of Chicago, integrates faith with culture, affirms the dignity of all persons, and works for peace and justice within an integrated society.  We hold that each person is to model his life on Jesus Christ as taught and interpreted by the Church magisterium (the teachings authority of the Church – the Pope and the Bishops). We emphasize the mission of service to all people, commitment to justice, and communication and sharing of Jesus’ teaching of hope and love to all.  We show respect for the integrity of individual consciences and encourage a true regard for individual, cultural and religious heritage.

As an urban, inner-city high school, Leo provides an opportunity for our students to respond to the demands of society and to actively participate in a Catholic Faith community.  We see the efforts of educating our students as a shared responsibility with parents and lay teachers and religious staff, and therefore, endeavor to coordinate our efforts.  A policy of working together for the common good evolves from an environment of personal contacts, mutual respect, and cooperation among teachers, students, parents, staff and administrators, working together to fulfill our goals and the needs of each member of our community.

 “Upon graduation, the student will…

1.  Understand the value of a God-Centered view of humanity.
2.  Recognize the value of Catholic / Christian traditions, teachings, and way of life.
3.  Show a respect for all life, all people and the property of others, and will develop a social conscience sensitive to the needs of   others.
4.  Develop character qualities and positive relationships that respect all people who are culturally, racially, socially or religiously different.
5.  Grow in feelings of self-worth and personal dignity.
6.  Present and model a definite set of values which will further enhance his moral and social development.
7.  Practice self-discipline and social courtesy in his daily life.
8.  Develop his individual capabilities at the academic and practical levels of instruction by showing a command and use of basic communication, clear written expression,  mathematical and scientific principles, logical thinking, practical skills and consumer awareness.
9.  Take pride in his own ethnic heritage, his communities, and recognizes his role in a culturally rich American Democratic Society.
10.Demonstrate and model leadership and responsible citizenship in his daily actions with pride in America and respect for its laws.”

Durkin Luncheon 2005Mission Statement of Leo High School

Leo high School’s mission is straightforward:

To continue to expand its ability to provide a high school and college preparatory education to urban minority students and to prepare them for the 21st Century.

Leo High School’s educational program is directed toward the growth of the whole person – a synthesis of faith, life and culture – through a Catholic faith community in which each human being is seen as created in God’s Image and therefore uniquely good and worthwhile.

Academic Program
Leo Graduation Requirements
Classes of 2007, 2008 and 2009

1.  A minimum of 24 credits required for graduation must be in the following areas.

Theology – 1 credit, English – 4 credits, Mathematics – 2 credits,
Science (Lab) – 2 credits, Social Studies – 2 credits *, Electives – 3.5 credits **,
Foreign Language – 2 credits ***, STAR – 2 credits

   *Includes U.S. History and American Government
**Exceptions require administrative approval
***Substitutions may include:

Chorus, Band, Word Processing, Computer Programming, Comp. Apps, Industrial Arts, Office Skills

2.  Seniors may carry six subjects during senior year.

3.  Seniors may have 24 credits to graduate.

4.  Seniors must pass a test on the Illinois Constitution, the U.S. Constitution
and display of the flag.


The course of study at Leo High School is college preparatory.  Students pursuing most programs and achieving passing grades will meet the typical minimum requirements (and in some cases, maximum requirements) for college admission. Within this college preparatory framework, every student will be exposed to ample opportunity to discover and develop his true character potential.  It is the responsibility of the entire school community to educate each student so that he has the required course and credits for both graduation and for admission to the college of his choice.  Graduation requirements for the Class of 2010 reflect the increased graduation requirements mandated by the State of Illinois.

It is the Alumni Association’s goal to support the school in pursuing its mission and instilling the above values in each generation of Leo Men.

-The Alumni Association

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