Our Campus in Use ...

Through The Eyes Of Our Students, Faculty, And Staff

17th & Girard. Mention that cross street to mostly anyone in Philadelphia and they will know the significance: it is the well-known home for St. Joseph’s Prep since the 1880s. Our location however is more than merely a place: it is a commitment to a mission; it is a central location to attract outstanding students from nearly anywhere in the Delaware Valley; it is an opportunity to be an anchor for our neighbors and city; and it is integral to who we are and what we do.

Of course, in reality, it is just a series of buildings. It becomes a school because of those who inhabit it. During a recent In-Service Day, Prep President John Marinacci encouraged faculty and staff to walk around the campus, to look at it anew through the eyes of our students. Our campus has been upgraded multiple times over the decades but one thing remains constant: the spaces are full of the dreams of the young men who inhabit it and the women and men who have made it their vocation to educate them.

Enjoy a look at parts of our campus, through the eyes of the students, faculty, and staff who animate it every day!

Religious Studies Classroom

The Walls Offer Other Perspectives

By Giovanni Mauro ’25

Christian Ethics has taught me the importance of gaining new perspectives in life as this is how we are able to formulate our own educated beliefs and opinions. Life is all about gaining perspectives and learning something from each and every one of them, and gaining the skills to do so in this ethics class is one of the most valuable lessons for high school. 

A key part of being a man for and with others is understanding the varying perspectives of a given situation in order to make a positive impact.

The art on Mr. Callaghan’s walls feature a diverse array of beliefs and serve as a constant reminder to keep an open mind and have enthusiasm to learn about different perspectives. This is useful as it leads to a more educated way of forming opinions on various topics. It is also a call to action to be a catalyst of positive change to make the world a more just place. It emphasizes the message that we are part of something greater, a mission to help the whole of our local and global community.

Offering Decoration as Teaching Moments

By Pete Callaghan

The social justice posters and art that line the walls of my classroom are meant to complement and illustrate the material we cover in Christian Ethics. I remember learning that the gospel is supposed to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. I try to find and display posters and other artwork that speak to that idea. My hope is that displaying images connected to war, immigration, gun violence, etc., will remind students that our Christian faith requires us to stand with the vulnerable – to bring comfort to the afflicted.

I also hope the images agitate the students a bit and make them consider ways in which their own views and attitudes on these issues may be at odds with what our faith asks of us - afflicting the comfortable.

Virtual Reality Lab

VR Brings Science To Life

By Davon Willie ’24

In Dr. Campbell’s Anatomy/Physiology class, we used the VR headsets to study human skin. It really helped to enhance my knowledge because we were able to really examine it so closely. I felt like I could touch it and it taught me so much. It was also a great demonstration of what skin layers looked like and that taught me more than if I had just seen photos or even in a normal lab. I never used that kind of technology before, so it was pretty cool. 

I didn’t know how surreal it would be to do an experiment within a pair of goggles!

Technology Allows for Mastery of Lab Subject

By Dr. John Campbell

I used the Virtual Reality Lab for the integumentary/skin lab for my Anatomy and Physiology class, and it went great. The integumentary system was the first system of the year we studied, and included terminology and structures the students were not familiar with. Most of the labs we did in the past, dealt with the action/physiology of the system and not the structure and terminology of the integumentary system, the VR Lab dealt more with the anatomy.

The virtual lab enables students to have more practice and a different type of engagement than in traditional labs.

The students were able to interact and review the structures repetitively and it was easy for them to understand and learn the material. The students enjoyed the lab and were thoroughly engaged.  

Brown/Feighan Greenhouse

Lessons of Life in a Greenhouse

By Jonas Jiang ’27

I love the Greenhouse as I have been able to reconnect with nature and learn a lot about plants.

In the Greenhouse, I definitely learned what hard work means as I develop new skill sets and also how to be patient with the progress of life because I get to see the plants growing bit by bit each day. Mr. Kelly is a fantastic teacher and is so passionate about the plants and the work we are doing in the Greenhouse. He has taught me so much and he makes it fun.

Learning to Nurture Creation

By Ronan Kelly

In so many ways nani gigantum humeris insidentes – we stand on the shoulders of giants. The Brown-Feighan Greenhouse was the combined vision of Joe Feighan and Barbara Brown, two individuals who dedicated decades to mother Prep teaching science to generations of Prep students. Upon their well-earned retirements, I inherited stewardship of the space, mainly by dint of being the Environmental Club moderator. I do not share the sweeping vision of my forebears, but perhaps I will suffice.

I have a true love for our pale blue home, in all its wondrous diversity of life, this beautiful Eden in a sea of darkness. We are stewards of this garden and I fear that we are not doing a very good job.

The Prep Greenhouse serves as a reminder that we are witnesses to the glory of God’s creation.

We have been given marvelous gifts, to some of which we have become blind. The Greenhouse is open to all. Students from the Environmental Club frequent the space taking care of plants, watering and pruning where necessary almost as an act of devotion. They take plants from the greenhouse and place them on windowsills, in hallways, in classrooms to remind us that within our freshly painted brick walls, we are still an integral part of God’s nature. They grow flowers for our pollinator gardens in New Jersey and our newly planted garden alongside Girard Avenue. They learn to nurture, they learn to care.

Pope Francis in Laudato Si’ calls for each of us to acknowledge the urgency of our environmental challenges and to recognize that the poorest will often be most affected by change. He calls upon us to take “swift and unified global action”. The Prep Greenhouse is just one way that we as Jesuit educators are answering that call.

Church of the Gesu

Gesu Church Leaves Me Speechless and Spirit-Filled

By Declan McLane ’25

Having access to a historical church like the Church of the Gesu is such a great help to feel the presence of God during AMDG Fridays, a monthly opportunity for students to reflect quietly, pray the rosary, meditate, receive the sacrament of reconciliation, journal and more. Often at times, I find myself looking around at the angelic scenery of the church and I am left speechless

Every time I walk into the Gesu I feel such a captivating feeling and I feel as if the Holy Spirit is always with me there. 

Going to AMDG Fridays has always been a highlight in my week at the Prep and a great way to look over your week. As a student at the Prep, there is an immense amount of work and always something going on, so sometimes it is hard to take some time during the school day to have a meaningful conversation with God. Another benefit of AMDG Fridays is that there are group conversations to converse with your peers about really anything present in your life. These group conversations have helped me understand more about other students at the Prep and they have helped me overall find out more about myself as a Catholic in a Jesuit school. 

The Gesu Church and AMDG Fridays have impacted my education in ways I can’t describe. By learning the Jesuit values associated with the Church during AMDG Fridays I have learned a lot about not only my religion but also myself. Going to a Jesuit school and experiencing AMDG Friday help me understand the values concerning how we look at ourselves in the eyes of God. By reflecting on the choices made during the week, we as students can in turn make better choices in the future and reflect on our own lives.

An Ode to the Church of the Gesu

By Rev. Rich McCouch, SJ

Rows and rows of pews atop the vast black and white checkered expanse: 1000 or 100 heads or even one, bowed or with eyes raised, faces and places in the Church of the Gesu distinguish life and spirit under the high vault and the gaze of saints above. Empty, the building frames a hollow gilted cave, but monthly fill that space with festival processions, trumpets, choirsong, and hands outstretched to be in communion or arms crossed for blessings, the body of students embraces the structure into being our place of worship – each Mass ends with shouts of affirmation – Seniors, Juniors, Sophomores, Freshmen vie with a validating cry. Monthly too the edifice echoes on its first Fridays, A.M.D.G. reshapes a whole day for diverse forms of prayer – adoration and benediction, confession and reconciliation, lectio divina and rosary, breathing and contemplation in silence, candles lit to prayer, for pilgrims all a varied and changing array of activities re-frame the hollow into a space where each student may re-frame his heart, quietly. What a boy wants there, a youth may attain by desire: silence and song; reading and rest; prayer to end despair; confidence or just checking in. Again, assemble the students for service, packing bags for our neighborhood distribution, tables weighed down with gifts to be lifted up, and the young men pour out across the plaza to the streets. Retreats begin and end there. The faithful realize belief there, even for the fidgets, for the young and the restless, for those who seek the restroom, for the staff and faculty with eagle eyes and restrained voices, for the novices and the formed Fathers and Brothers, priests and deacons and laity together shaping hearts, hearing soft laments, sins confessed, reassurances gained, giggles and whispers and secret saying: faith and freedom vie for attention and hospitality.

Gesu widens eyes and hearts for and with others and patience, A.M.D.G.

Class of 1973 Innovation Center

Innovation Center Offers Deeper Understanding

By Ron Wurster ’24

Prior to the construction of the Howley Learning Commons, I already had an interest in technology and robotics, so when I heard that there would be an Innovation Center, I was excited to say the least.

I then decided to take Mrs Hoffman’s robotics class and have been able to utilize this new space more. In this class, I gained a deeper understanding of robotics and a deeper understanding and appreciation of technology in general. Although it is still difficult to understand every nuance in even the simplest pieces of technology, I feel that I now understand why and how they act the way they act. Even though I’m leaving the Prep and have to say goodbye to the Innovation Center, I will take the lessons I learned with me, and I plan on continuing to learn about technology in college by taking computer science courses. 

“A Dream Space” for Robotics

By Teresa Hoffman

The Innovation Center is spacious which gives a lot of needed mobility for the students while building. The room has charging stations in the ceiling and around the entire perimeter for the robot batteries, which provide convenience, and we have an entire arena setup so students always have access to testing their bot in a regulation tournament style setting. We also have cabinets with rows and rows of robot parts stored, and easy access to the MAC room for coding the robots autonomous period. 

It is a dream space for a robotics class!

Howley Learning Commons

A Place of Acceptance and Support

By RJ Mallery ’25

When I am not in class, I spend most of my time in the Howley Learning Commons and the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Office.

It is a place in the school where I do not have to worry about my academics and can be there without any outside pressures.

Ms. Brown makes the office feel warm and welcome, creating an atmosphere of acceptance and support. She is an easy person to talk to, not just about academics but also things outside of school and I know she will not judge me. 

In the DEI Office, I have learned how to make everyone feel included in a space where community may be lacking. I have learned the importance of listening to other people and fostering a sense of belonging for everyone. It has given me a sense of responsibility, emphasizing how important it is to include everybody and make sure their voices are heard.

It even led me to a leadership position as Ms. Brown pushed me to run for Vice President of the Black and Latino Cultural Club. I am so grateful for the space of belonging.

Offering a “Brave Space for Growth”

By Nailah Brown-Givens

The DEI office in the Howley Learning Commons provides a brave space where students can ask hard questions and grapple with life’s challenges either in a 1:1 setting or as an open discussion among peers. We say ‘brave’ in place of ‘safe’ because here you will be challenged for the betterment of one another, but we will lead with love and respect for all identities. We make space for the invisible knapsack that members of our community carry daily into the Prep, distracting some from engaging in the classroom. 

In this office we fellowship through laughter, food, games, trivia, and Ms. Cook vocabulary words as our authentic selves.

Intentionally building these relationships makes it easier to support and hold one another accountable in the moments that matter most. During the days that I am climbing over mountains of backpacks and making my way through the sea of students squeezed into my office like sardines, I am most thankful to provide space that they simply want to occupy.

Art Studio

Pushing Through Creative Barriers and Finding New Passions

By Colin Campbell ’24

The Art Studio has impacted my education at the Prep in the best way possible; it is more to me than just a studio space. It was the first class I ever had at the Prep and where my journey began. It has impacted my education through discovering a passion and skill I did not know I had. The resources within and the people who make up the classes are what truly make it a studio. Before taking AP Art this year I had always thought that my strong suit was drawing and painting however, this has changed because of my access to a pottery wheel. Along with Ms. Lee’s help, I have been able to master the wheel which I would have never thought I’d  be good at. 

The studio has helped me as an artist explore my passions and pursue work I never thought possible.

Because of this, I hope to minor in ceramics and use the many skills I have learned through Ms. Lee and the Art Studio.  

Fostering Creativity in Everything

By Kat Lee

The Art Studios being located on the highest floor of Jesuit Hall could make it a reason to stay clear. However, our students have made it a home. When students sign up for an art class, most of the time it is their first time making art in years. Some are nervous and/or intimidated but because of the ways we structure our curriculum, they quickly fall into a rhythm of making work, sharing ideas, talking about things inside and outside of our class.

The studio quickly becomes a creative space to make, think, and be because of the freedom that is both given and practiced in the classroom.

This is really a result of making it a space for all students to feel welcome – even those that are not enrolled in an art class (which happens often). The doors are always open and there are always students in the room to have conversations with. 

The great thing about our Art Studios here is that there is no specific specialty – so there are a mixture of materials to choose from; there is strategic randomness on the walls and conversations between teacher and student are intentionally crafted to get students to think on their own and find their own answers.

EVERYTHING about the art rooms is about practicing and fostering creativity but also building identities. 

James “Mace” Thompson ’59 Athletic Center

The “Mace” Helps Athlete Grow in all Aspects

By Trot Cushman ’25

It is very cool to have a space on campus to be able to go from your classes right to the turf room for lacrosse practice. I really enjoy having this space because it is a place for me to go to get in some extra work before or after practice whether I am working on my stick skills, shooting, or foot work.

Having this space on campus has impacted my team because we can work more on the fundamentals, such as our stick skills or foot work along with conditioning.

The turf room has also been a way for the older guys to help out the younger guys with getting familiar with the speed of high school lacrosse. 

It is so convenient having this space. I can stick around after school to either get my homework done or hang out with friends that do other activities than me. The new turf room has also allowed me to focus more on my school work towards the end of the day because I do not have to worry about rushing out of school to get to practice.

New Space is “Huge Lift” for Prep Athletics

By Dan DiBerardinis

This room is something that is unique to the Prep locally and is one of the best investments in athletics in my tenure here. 

Being in the city and having limited outdoor space, field space is at a premium and was a huge need for us.

This space is used every day of the week by nearly all of our outdoor teams and we also open it up to outside groups (eg., SWAG Soccer) to give them a safe space to practice and play.

The goal of athletics at the Prep is to maximize the development of our student-athletes and care for their health and wellness. It is an area for skill development but is versatile enough to allow some of our teams to do yoga workouts and other stretches. 

Having this space on campus saves time and energy for our student-athletes, allowing them to be here and not have to travel for practice. That is a huge lift for their development on and off the field and it trickles down. I think that it also helps them academically because it gives them more time after school. 

McHugh Media Studio

Media Studio Helps Students Find a Voice

By Ryan Sullivan ’27

I love having the McHugh Media Studio on campus because it has allowed me and my co-host Cole Kuhn ’27 to easily record our podcast every week, nearly since the first week of school.

When I heard that podcasting would be an option for WSJP this year I knew I had to do it, and I believe podcasting has been able to put my name out there as a broadcaster at the Prep.

Ever since, the CR7 podcast has been one of the most successful and consistent podcasts at the Prep. As a freshman, it is hard to get on air for some of the bigger games because most juniors and seniors have been waiting for their opportunity just like I am. I believe our work with the podcast has shown our commitment to the club.

While WSJP is a way to have fun with your friends and a chance to display your knowledge of sports to an audience, I believe that it is more than that and can take a Prep student farther. Public speaking is a very important skill to have in our society and some people do not have the experience due to a lack of practice and preparation. When you are with WSJP, you are always talking to a big audience so you have to put your best foot forward. 

Technology Touches on Clubs and Classes

By Riley Burns ’18

The McHugh Media Studio has revamped the content that WSJP records, produces, and publishes on a daily basis.

If you walk past the studio on any given day during Community Period, you will undoubtedly see two or three podcasters fully immersed in recording their newest episode.

Prior to the studio’s construction, WSJP’s content was confined to mainly live game broadcasts. With the access to the world-class equipment in the McHugh Studio, our broadcasters have gained an unparalleled amount of on-air experience through podcasting with topics including NBA, NFL, MLS, NCAA basketball, true crime, and solving mysteries. The McHugh Media Studio has naturally expanded WSJP into a club that extends to more students than ever before, and this expansion will be ever-growing as word gets around about the opportunities it presents. 

However, the McHugh Media Studio does not only benefit members of WSJP. The studio is accessible to any student who wishes to use it during the school day. SJP’s Filmmaking Club members and moderator Mike Scannepieco ‘08 have utilized the studio to practice camera angles, interview lighting, and other production set up techniques. The SJP English Department’s Journalism elective also utilizes this space to record, edit, and produce high-quality audio and video news packages. 

Seniors who had no prior recording experience have gained lifelong lessons on public speaking, on-air mechanisms, and script writing. Although every student is not immediately comfortable with being in front of the camera, there are other opportunities to get involved. We have students whose interest lies within the equipment, whether it is learning how to manage the camera, setting up the audio equipment to ensure a high-quality output, or assuming any other roles a producer typically would. These students have been blown away with the endless possibilities that the studio presents.