Who We Are
West Catholic Preparatory High School has been preparing students for the next level of their lives, whether that’s college, the work force, or the armed forces for over 100 years.
Our campus is located in West Philadelphia at 45th and Chestnut. West Catholic Prep is a Lasallian school which provides a charism rooted in the faith in God, care for those around us, inclusiveness, service, and social justice. The education offered at West Catholic Preparatory High School goes beyond our academic success. It develops characteristics such as work ethic, creativity, critical thinking, handling adversity and many others.
The West Catholic Prep experience is rooted in a Catholic Lasallian education, making the high school experience here different than other schools in the Philadelphia region. Following in the footsteps of La Salle, the Christian Brothers—along with teachers, staff and students—uphold the spirit of Lasallian principles. We are dedicated to the ministry of providing a human and Christian education to our students.
The West Catholic story, from its inception in the early part of the twentieth century, is essentially a story of two Philadelphia Catholic high schools. Over the better part of one hundred years, their histories would unfold side by side before eventually merging. Located just four blocks from each other, West Philadelphia Catholic High School for Boys and West Catholic Girls’ High School would flourish, providing secondary education for thousands of students coming from parochial schools within its geographical boundaries. In those early years, the brothers and sisters formed the great majority of their respective faculty, but laymen and women were gradually integrated into the education mission. Together, they would lay foundations for two great traditions: graduating young men and women who would go on to higher education and enlisting in the armed service or being eagerly sought after by local employers.
Throughout their history, both schools would serve as a beacon for a quality Catholic education, and at their peak, enrollment reached 6,000 total graduates. In the 70s and 80s, as Catholic school enrollment began to decline city wide, a merger of the boys and girls schools into a single co-educational program was announced. It would be known as West Philadelphia Catholic High School.
In 2012 Brother Richard Kestler, a former president and principal, returned to West Catholic. Paul Colistra also arrived with Brother Richard as the vice president of Institutional Advancement. Paul, Brother Richard, and longtime principal Sr. Mary Bur began to lead an effort to turn the school around. The Board of Trustees felt that a modification of the school name would help market the schools turnaround while also communicating an important message to its stakeholders and broader community. As a result, the Archdiocese authorized transforming the school’s name to West Catholic Preparatory High School. Upon Brother Richard’s retirement in June 2016, Paul Colistra was appointed school president. Paul is the first lay president in the school’s history. Since 2012, the school has raised almost 21 million dollars and nearly doubled its enrollment. It also has seen its graduating classes of 2017 and 2018 achieve a 100% college acceptance rate, and receive a combined 27 million dollars in college academic scholarships.