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by Terri Hogan
Senior Staff Writer
This school year marks a milestone for Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, as it celebrates its 60th anniversary.
The year-long celebration honors the school community, from its early beginnings in Wheaton to its campus in Olney.
School President Dr. Paul Barker said the school has changed a lot over the past six decades.
“Going from all boys to co-ed. Moving from Wheaton to Olney. Of course, 1958 and 2018 are very different worlds,” he said. “We look back with pride at what our graduates accomplish and with gratitude for those who built up the strong sense of community that is hallmark of a Good Counsel education.”
The Xaverian Brothers established Our Lady of Good Counsel at the invitation of Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle – the first resident Archbishop of Washington, who served from 1948 to 1973 — as a Catholic high school for boys.
On Sept. 8, 1958, the school opened its doors on Georgia Avenue in Wheaton. The first class of 14 students graduated in 1961.
The school became coeducational in 1988.
Due to the growing student population and the need for additional space and athletic facilities, the school moved to its current 51-acre campus in Olney in 2007.
School officials say it is the largest private high school in the state and the only one with a building built entirely in the 21st century.
Today, 1,250 students attend Good Counsel, coming from throughout the D.C. and Baltimore metropolitan areas and from countries across the world.
Good Counsel today
Despite significant changes over the past six decades, some things remain a constant at Good Counsel, including the Xaverian values — Zeal, Simplicity, Humility, Compassion and Trust — religion and academic excellence.
According to the school’s website, 64 percent of its students are Catholic.
Academically, the school offers Ryken Studies for highly motivated students with learning differences, the International Baccalaureate program, Advanced Placement courses, and a Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) program.
Each student is required to perform community service hours. Opportunities are available to serve others during school-sponsored trips to such places as Appalachia, Camden, N.J., and Haiti, El Salvador and the Dominican Republic.
Students look forward to participating in the impactful three-day Junior Retreat, considered by many alumni to be the pinnacle experience at Good Counsel.
Outside of the classroom, students participate athletics, fine arts and a variety of clubs and activities.
A global program established in 2014 has brought students to Good Counsel from countries including China, South Korea, Austria, Brazil, Turkey, Cayman Islands, India, Libera, Vietnam, Iran, France, Germany and Mexico. The school has also participated in exchange programs with France, Austria, New Zealand, Australia and Spain.
Good Counsel has become a tradition for many families, with multiple generations attending. They school has seen 12,630 graduates. Nearly 80 of its alumni have returned as teachers.
Cheryl Plainte, director of marketing and communications, said that the 60th anniversary has been imbedded in events and activities throughout the school year.
The school kicked off the celebration on Sept. 7 with an all-school Mass, brunch, tailgate party, football game, bull roast and champagne toast.
Other anniversary-related events included the Annual Steve Dean Golf Tournament, also held in September, and the 31st annual Grand Celebration, scheduled for March 2, offering an evening of philanthropy.
Each year at the Grand Celebration, Good Counsel highlights a special project that needs support. In celebration of the 60th anniversary and to honor four of its distinguished community members, the school will endow scholarships named for Pat Bates, Dick Burns, Dennis Essig and Rich Seel. Each has more than 40 years of service at Good Counsel.
To purchase tickets, donate an auction item or learn about sponsorship opportunities, go to www.olgchs.org/support-good-counsel/grand-celebration.
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