“Too often the narrative for Catholic schools in the city is closures and mergers, but here we’re in growth mode,” Rev. Joseph Bongard, Roman’s president and rector tells Philly Mag. “The primary goal of our expansion isn’t to increase enrollment, it’s to broaden program offerings.”
A historical landmark nestled on the corner of Broad and Vine streets, the school’s original 1890 building – faced in marble in the Gothic Revivalist style – is too small and in some cases ill-equipped to accommodate its student body of just under 1,000 boys. The chapel has a maximum capacity of 18 people, so masses are said in the school’s legendary third-floor basketball gym. The band hall is a closet.
But there’s too much determination inside this castle-like building’s striking walls to let that stand in the way of providing students with a quality high school education rooted in the Catholic faith. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Roman boasts a 96% college placement rate for its seniors while firmly remaining dedicated to promoting academic diversity, enrolling kids with varying abilities rather than taking only the top percent of applicants.