This fall marks the 60th anniversary of Bishop Canevin, a high school intended to serve the 21 parishes of the Chartiers Valley. Originally designated as Chartiers Valley Catholic High School when its doors opened in September 1959, and then renamed Canevin High School, it was planned as the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s most elaborate and largest district high school.
The school was built on a 17-acre campus, erected on diocesan property adjacent to St. Paul’s Orphanage — now St. Paul’s Seminary — at 2700 Morange Road in the Oakwood section of Pittsburgh, near Green Tree and Crafton. It is named after Bishop John Francis Regis Canevin, the fifth Bishop of Pittsburgh. His motto, “Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain who built it” (Psalm 127) was later adopted as the motto of his namesake school.
Initially focusing only on academics, there were hardly any activities. But in 1960, the first baseball team took the field and, in 1961, the newspaper “The Canevin” was first published. It was later renamed “The Leonid” in honor of the school’s first headmaster, the Rev. Leo G. Henry.
The Crusader Marching Band made its debut in 1965. In its first10 years of athletics, Canevin had amassed four diocesan wrestling championships, three diocesan basketball championships and one football diocesan championship.
At first, the school separated boys and girls. Facilities and enrollment continued to grow and by 1970, the Rev. Canice Connors, shifted toward a more integrated co-educational school, improving the variety and quality of curriculum, professional staff and building facilities.
In 1979, John Maurer became the first lay headmaster of a diocesan district high school and he kept up the school’s traditional reputation of academic excellence. He also expanded the girls’ athletic offerings, adding volleyball, tennis, softball and bowling teams.
Now headed by Michael Joyce, principal since 2018, Bishop Canevin continues to emphasize the importance of service and making an impact in the lives of those less fortunate. Awards pour in for various students such as the Sarah Heinz House “Youth of the Year” award, KDKA Extra Effort Award and Pittsburgh Rotary Club’s Student of Distinction. Several students were named Carson Scholars and the class of 2019 won more than $3 million in college scholarships. Dozens of Bishop Canevin students spent a week of their summer vacation last month completing mission projects in nearby Washington.
A challenging and diverse program of studies is offered, including Advanced Placement, honors level and College in High School courses. Students can earn online credit courses through the Jesuit Virtual Learning Academy. The high school has made a commitment to technology and innovation, with Smartboards and computers accessible, and new state-of-the-art STEM labs challenging students to invent, investigate, research and solve.
Every student since 2011 has been given an iPad for their academic and personal use, the first school in the region to provide such an opportunity.
The school continues to shine in athletics as well. The girls volleyball team was the 2018 WPIAL champions and qualified for state playoffs, as did the girls basketball team. Football earned its 300th victory in program history and hockey returned to PIHL competition. Individual WPIAL qualifiers came from the school’s gymnastics, wrestling, swimming, track and bowling teams.
Last year, upgrades to the school’s environment included expanding the outdoor student recreation areas, converting indoor space into a student study lounge and academic support center where students are peer tutored by members of the National Honor Society. Each classroom will be enhanced with Acquos Boards and new furniture.
Students participate in more than 29 clubs and activities, such as Future Business Leaders of America, which this year produced a state champion team, while others succeed on the local, state and national level in speech and debate. Students teach at various elementary schools through Junior Achievement and the school’s unique House system strengthens community across grade levels as homerooms compete in their support of local charities.
The Photography Club held a three-month exhibit at The Mall at Robinson this past spring. The Academic Team won the first round of KDKA’s Hometown High Q and was eligible from placements in other competitions to attend the 2019 Small School National Championship.
Bishop Canevin is a partner school with Point Park University’s Center for Media Innovation.
The school was recently recognized by Niche as being “One of the Most Diverse Private High Schools in America” as well as given an “A” grade and rated a Top 5 Catholic school in the Pittsburgh region.
“We celebrate the uniqueness and diversity of our student body that is comprised of students from 18 local Catholic schools, seven public schools and 10 charter schools, including students coming from the North Hills and Washington, reflecting a global community of urban, suburban and rural areas. We also had an international group this past year that came from Brazil, Argentina, China and the Ukraine,” said Principal Joyce. “For the last 60 years, we have been preparing students for a life anchored in faith, enriched by learning and enhanced by service to others. We will continue to evolve with the times while improving our academic excellence and maintaining many of our traditions.”
Incoming junior Jack Mickle is proud to be a Bishop Canevin student.
“It seems hard to believe the school has had more than 10,000 students walk these same halls that I am walking. I’ve had several family members attend Canevin, including my mother who was here for the 30th anniversary. My sister, Kate, is now a freshman here and a member of the class of 2023,” he said. “I am very excited to be at Canevin during its 60th anniversary and, after graduation, look forward to reading of its continued successes in the years to come.”
An open house is set for Oct. 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for prospective students to visit for an insider’s look at all that Bishop Canevin’s Jesuit-inspired education offers. For more information, visit www.bishopcanevin.org or call 412-922-7400.