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Our History

In 1927, Cardinal Mundelein extended an invitation to the Dominicans of St. Joseph Province to build and administer a new high school in the Archdiocese of Chicago. In a simple but impressive ceremony, the corner stone of the high school bearing the shield of the Dominican Order was placed by The Very Reverend Raymond Meagher, O.P., S.T.Lr., Provincial of the Province, on Tuesday, August 13, 1929. Before the corner stone was laid, however, most of the work on the building was completed and with the splendid cooperation of the subcontractors, the school was ready for the opening day of school on Monday, September 9, 1929. 

Fenwick opened its doors to 200 students and a staff of 11 Dominicans. The high school was named in honor of Edward Dominic Fenwick, O.P., the first Bishop of Cincinnati. Father Fenwick helped spread Catholicism throughout the Midwest and established the Dominican Order in the United States west of the Allegheny Mountains. 

Fenwick High School was founded as an all-boys college preparatory school by the Fathers and Brothers of the Province of St. Joseph (New York), but in 1939, the St. Joseph Province was divided and Fenwick High School became part of the new Province of St. Albert the Great, with headquarters in Chicago. In 1992, girls were admitted for the first time. Today, Fenwick is known as a secondary school. Students use some athletic facilities, including a baseball field, two football fields, a softball diamond, and a soccer field on the campus of Fenwick's Dominican Priory in the nearby suburb of River Forest. 

Fenwick has a strong academic tradition, as noted by the number of National Merit Scholars and Illinois State Scholars, high SAT and ACT scores (with averages ranked within the top 100 schools in the nation), and large numbers of students matriculating to top universities, such as those in the Ivy League and Big Ten. Since its founding, Fenwick has maintained a 100% college matriculation rate and Fenwick's students matriculate to many top American and international universities.

Fenwick has a highly accomplished faculty, four of which have earned the Golden Apple Award.in 1983 Fenwick was selected by the U.S. Department of Education as a Blue Ribbon School. On January 18, 1999, U.S. News & World Report classified Fenwick as an "Outstanding American High School", making Fenwick tied for the #1 ranked preparatory school in the Chicago area.  

Fenwick has commenced several expansion campaigns at their present location in Oak Park based on their original Neo-gothic designed school created by the New York architect Wilfred E. Anthony, who also redesigned the Basilica of the Sacred Heart, Indiana for the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. The latest expansions include a new field house with a 1,100-seat gymnasium and a 450-seat Natatorium; several new classrooms and updated athletic lockers; a new school entrance and gateway, and additional science laboratories and art studios, all of which are in keeping with the Collegiate Gothic look of Fenwick's school and original priory.  Fenwick is in the early stages of the Centennial Campaign which will expand and improve the campus again, but also in keeping with the original Collegiate Gothic style, like many of the great universities of the western world.
Fenwick's St. Dominic Chapel is the central feature of the school. Built in the 1940s, the chapel is designed in the Neo-gothic architectural style. Within the chapel are rows of carved choir stalls for the singing and recitation of the Liturgy of the Hours. The chapel is especially noted for its stained glass windows by Rinaldo Angelo Zarlenga, O.P., a Dominican Father from Rome, Italy who had his artistic training within the Vatican and later set up a workshop at Fenwick's Dominican Priory in River Forest. Several of Zarlenga's works can be seen at Fenwick including a bronze statue of St. Dominic, a bronze crucifix, a mosaic of The Last Supper, as well as 10 stained glass windows depicting the Virgin Mary, 8 Dominican Saints, and one Blessed. The chapel's 10 stained glass windows specifically depict the following individuals: Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, St. Dominic, St. Peter, St. Martin de Porres, Pope Pius V, Catherine of Siena, Virgin Mary, Vincent Ferrer, and Fra Angelico.
As the first priority of the Centennial Campaign, generous benefactor Angelo Mazzone III ’68 donated funds to completely renovate the chapel and restore it to its original grandeur while adding some modern features.  The chapel was air-conditioned, all the stained glass windows were meticulously restored, the pews and floors were refinished and the interior repainted.

Notable Alumni/ae

List of 4 items.

  • Public Service & Politics

    • Anne Smedinghoff (class of 2005) was an American diplomat who served in Venezuela and Afghanistan. She died on April 6, 2013, while serving her country in a diplomatic mission in Zabul province, Afghanistan.
    • Daniel Cronin (class of 1977) is Chairman of the DuPage County Board and a former Illinois State Senator representing Illinois' 21st Legislative District (1993–2010).
    • William J. Cullerton (class of 1941), World War II flying ace and radio host. He was taken prisoner by the Gestapo, shot and left to die, but survived, then escaped and returned to the U.S. where he was inducted into the Illinois Military Aviation Hall of Fame. He was the 4th highest ace of World War II with a total of 29 hits, flying a P-51 Mustang called "Miss Steve".
    • Major General Michael D. Healey (Class of 1945). U.S. Army from 1945 to 1981. Highly decorated for valor in the Korean War and Vietnam War. Commanded the United States Army John F. Kennedy Center for Military Assistance/Institute for Military Assistance (now Special Warfare Center and School). Served as the inspiration for Colonel Mike in the book and movie "The Green Berets".
    • Joseph Kerwin (class of 1949) was a NASA astronaut who flew on the Skylab 2 mission, becoming the first American medical doctor in space. He was also a CAPCOM for the Apollo 13 mission.
    • Peter Newell (class of 1997) is the White House Scheduler for President Barack Obama.
    • Pat Quinn (class of 1967) was Illinois State Treasurer (1991–95), Illinois Lt. Governor (2001–2009) and Illinois Governor (2009–2015).
    • Jim Durkin (class of 1979) has been a Republican member of the Illinois House of Representatives since 1995.
  • Arts, Sciences, and Letters

    • Cortney Hall (1999) An Emmy Award-nominated journalist, Cortney Hall joined WGN News as a CLTV anchor in December 2013, and now delivers the latest news headlines on the 9 o’clock hour of WGN Morning News.
    • Philip Caputo (class of 1959) is an author (A Rumor of War) and Pulitzer Prize winning reporter for coverage of Chicago election fraud.
    • Steve Twomey (class of 1969) was the 1987 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing for his Philadelphia Inquirer profile of life aboard an aircraft carrier
    • Patrick Creadon (class of 1985) is a director and documentary filmmaker (Wordplay, I.O.U.S.A.), twice nominated for the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival
    • Aimee Garcia (class of 1996) is a professional actress (Veronica on the George Lopez TV series).
    • Kevin Jakubowski (class of 1997) is the screenwriter of the film Assassination of a High School President. The fictional school in the film shares its nickname, colors and school emblem with Fenwick.
    • The late Bernard M. Judge (class of 1957) was part of a Pulitzer Prize winning team, Pulitzer Prize Juror, Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame, and was a journalism professor at the Medill School of Journalism of Northwestern University.
    • John Lee (class of 1973) Dean of the Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago
    • Aamer Madhani (class of 1995) USA Today correspondent in Baghdad.
    • Nasti Habits (class of 1979) is the lead singer of Diamond Rexx.
    • Frank McMahon (class of 1939) was a noted illustrator who penned for Collier's Weekly and the Saturday Evening Post. He was the 1963 artist of the year for the Artist Guild of New York. In 2001 he was inducted into the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame.
    • Sheila Moran (class of 1998) producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show for Harpo Productions.
    • Tawney Saylor (class of 2000) is the Washington correspondent for an ABC Network affiliate.
    • R. Emmett Tyrrell (class of 1961) founder of The American Spectator, bestselling author of Madame Hillary: The Dark Road to the White House and The Clinton Crack-Up.
  • Business and Industry

    • John Barron (class of 1976) is the General Manager of the Chicago Sun-Times was most recently editor/GM at Tribune Content Agency until March 2018
    • Bernard Brennan (class of 1956) is the former CEO of Montgomery Ward (1985–96) and brother of Edward A. Brennan.
    • Edward A. Brennan (class of 1951) was the former CEO of Sears, Roebuck and Co. (1986–95); and later served on the boards of American Airlines, McDonald's, 3M, and Exelon, among others
    • Daniel Brutto (class of 1974) is the President of UPS International
    • Robert Corvino (class of 1975) is the former Vice-Chairman for the Chicago Board of Trade
    • Bernard Dan (class of 1979) is the former President & CEO of the Chicago Board of Trade
    • George Keller (class of 1941) served as Chairman and CEO of Chevron Corporation
    • A. G. Lafley (class of 1965) was the President & CEO (2000–present) and Chairman of the Board (2002–present) of Procter & Gamble he retired in 2016
    • William Musham (class of 1934) served as President and CEO of Imperial Eastman, Board of Directors for Walgreens, Carson Pirie Scott, and others
    • Michael R. Quinlan (class of 1962) is the former Chairman of the Board (1990–99) and CEO (1987–98) of The McDonalds Corporation. Since 2000, he has been a Director of Dun & Bradstreet.
    • Paul Tierney, Jr. (class of 1960) served as the Director of Liz Claiborne Inc., member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and is an adjunct professor at Columbia Business School
    • Larry Wert (class of 1974) was President & General Manager of WMAQ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Chicago. Was with Tribune Media; is now Museum of Broadcast Communication board chairman
    • Duncan Sharbot Sr. (class of 1972) is the chairman of Petroleum Ergonomics in Fort Worth, Texas. Also co-author of Petro's So Retro.
  • Athletics and Gaming

    • Fred Baer (class of 1951) was selected as the Most Valuable Player on the 1954 Michigan Wolverines football team.
    • Bates Battaglia (class of 1993) is an NHL forward (1994–2004, ECHL AHL HockeyAllsvenskan 2005–present). He played for the Carolina Hurricanes during the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals.
    • John Giannini is the head coach of La Salle University men's basketball team.
    • Mike Heathcott, Former MLB player (Chicago White Sox)
    • Johnny Lattner (class of 1950) was a professional football player for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He won the 1953 Heisman trophy playing for the University of Notre Dame and is one of only two two–time winners of the Maxwell Award (1952 & 53). He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1979.
    • Tricia Liston - WNBA Drafted by the Minnesota Lynx in 2014 and played for the United States at the 2013 World University Games
    • Corey Maggette (class of 1998) is an NBA forward (1999–present), and first–round draft pick in the 1999 NBA Draft. He has spent most of his career with the Los Angeles Clippers. He currently plays basketball for the Detroit Pistons.
    • Devereaux Peters WNBA is an American basketball forward with the Washington Mystics and WBC Dynamo Novosibirsk of the Russian Womens League. Peters played at Notre Dame where she was player of the year in 2012
    • Ben Ponzio (class of 1993) was a 2007 World Series of Poker Bracelet Winner in the $2,000 No Limit Texas Hold' em event.
    • Mike Rabold (class of 1955) was an NFL offensive lineman (1959–62, 64–67), mostly with the Chicago Bears.
    • Dave Schrage (class of 1979) has been a collegiate head baseball coach at Northern Iowa University (1991–99), Northern Illinois University (2000–02), University of Evansville (2003–06), and University of Notre Dame (06-10).
    • Ken Sitzberger (class of 1963) was a diver who won the gold medal in the 3-meter springboard at the 1964 Summer Olympics. He was a three time U.S. Champion and was a television color commentator for 16 years. He was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame in 1994.
    • Tim Stapleton (class of 2002) is an NHL center of the Atlanta Thrashers but is currently assigned to the Chicago Wolves of the AHL
    • Marques Sullivan (class of 1996) was a professional offensive lineman for the Buffalo Bills, New York Giants, New England Patriots, and Chicago Rush.
    • Edward dominic Fenwick (1768–1832)

Our Namesake, Bishop Fenwick

Bishop Edward Dominic Fenwick was born on August 19, 1768 in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. At the age of 16, he left his family to attend the College of the Holy Cross in Bornhem, Belgium. Upon completion of his studies, and inspired by his Dominican uncle, he entered the Order of Preachers, joining the English Dominican province on December 4, 1788 as a novice where he was given the religious name Dominic. He was solemnly professed in 1790 and ordained a priest in 1796 at the Cathedral of Saint Baron, in Ghent.

Following nine years of ministry in the English province, Fenwick returned to his homeland to fulfill his lifetime dream to found a Dominican Province in the United States. Unable to receive permission from Archbishop John Carroll of Baltimore to found a college in Maryland, he responded to the need for priests on the frontier of Kentucky. Fenwick, in 1806 joined with four friars in founding the first Dominican community in the United States, under the patronage of the first Dominican saint of the Americas, Rose of Lima, in Washington County, Kentucky.

At St. Rose, the friars established a school for young boys, St Thomas Aquinas College, the first Catholic college west of the Alleghenies.

Fenwick soon was called to the frontier of Ohio, where he ministered to the spiritual and educational needs of the frontier families. He is referred to as the Apostle of Ohio, recognized as an ardent preacher and minister of the Word of God in this new territory. On June 13, 1821 he was appointed the first bishop of Cincinnati and ordained a bishop on January 13, 1822. His diocese included the entire state of Ohio and the vast Michigan Territory, comprising the states of Michigan and Wisconsin.

Dedicated to education, Fenwick invited several women’s religious communities to found schools in his diocese. He established a seminary in Ohio in 1829 and in 1831 a college, known as the Athenaeum.

Fenwick died of cholera on September 26, 1832 while returning from a trip to Mackinaw Island, preaching the Word of God and caring for the many settlers and Native Americans in his vast diocese.

Fenwick High School is named after this pioneering Dominican friar and bishop who dedicated his life to the of education of young men and women.

History of the Fenwick Shield

The Dominican shield consists of four white and four black gyrons or triangles. These symbolize the unity of a body of people working together for the common good. The “cross fleury”, or cross with a fleur de lis at each end, superimposed upon the gyrons, signifies victory, duty and self‐sacrifice. The sable or black of the shield symbolizes wisdom, silence, fortitude and penance. The light color (which could be white, argent or silver) signifies peace, purity charity and sincerity.

Sometimes, the motto of the Order surrounds the shield. It reads, “Laudare, Benedicere, Praedicare”, which means to praise (God), to Bless (His People) and to Preach (his gospel). Frequently too, the shield may also be surrounded by the six or eight pointed star which symbolizes the star his mother saw shining from his chest at Baptism and is the distinguishing symbol of St. Dominic.
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