More than A Few Good Men
La Salle College High School nurtures the growth of young men by adhering to a goal of educating the whole person
by Leigh Stuart

La Salle College High School in Wyndmoor has been preparing young men for university education and beyond for more than 150 years. By following the teaching philosophy developed by Saint John Baptist de La Salle in the 1600s, this private academy continues to assist young men in the development of talents, academic excellence and strong character that enables them to become tomorrow’s leaders.

“If you can come from a school where the emphasis is on building a strong community and educating the whole person, I think that prepares you well for life,” says Michael O’Toole, La Salle’s principal.

Scholastic strength, of course, serves as the foundation of a La Salle education. Forty percent of students participate in Advanced Placement classes, and La Salle has an outstanding information technology department that offers students both experience-based and classroom learning opportunities. The IT department is so advanced, in fact, that the school’s Microsoft IT Academy is able to certify students through its Certiport partnership.

The arts are also strong at La Salle; O’Toole estimates that nearly 40 percent of the school’s population is involved in theater, speech and debate or music, and, in some cases, all of them.

“What’s unique about the music program is that all the students are involved in at least one other activity,” O’Toole says. “Some are in speech and debate, some swim or are on the baseball team—you can see a sort of microcosm of the whole school.”

In addition to artistic and scholastic pursuits, service is also a major part of life at La Salle, and generosity is but one of the values the school takes care to instill in students.

“Character development is critical here at our school,” says Kevin Dougherty, an alumnus who now serves La Salle as director of admissions and financial aid. “What it really means to be a Lasallian gentleman is about the decisions you make when no one is watching, the kind of father, husband and role model you will be when you get older; what it means to treat a young lady with respect, and what it means to be a man.”

The school offers young men the opportunity to participate in community service activities seven days a week. “It’s not a requirement but an expectation for students,” Dougherty says. “The difference is, expectation is much more meaningful.”

This dedication to helping others is year-round. This past summer, 326 rising juniors and seniors participated in 17 volunteer service projects in eight different states and four different countries.

“I think our students understand that it is an incredible opportunity to come here and receive a Lasallian education,” he says. “And this empowers them to want to make a difference in other people’s lives.”

Such high standards are not just for the students, however; faculty members strive to uphold La Salle’s lofty goals as well. O’Toole says the school seeks out educators who display three qualities. First is a commitment to the mission of La Salle College High School, which is to educate and nurture the whole person, spiritually, intellectually and experientially. The second is individual talents that faculty members can bring to the La Salle community, whether those skills apply to sciences, the arts, or any other related field that can enhance development. The third characteristic is perhaps most important: the ability to communicate and interact with students in a positive manner.

“Young men are on a journey,” O’Toole says. “Sometimes they don’t quite understand all their choices or experiences, so for young men to grow, they need a faculty willing to interact with students on a constant basis.”   

In the end, it is the goal of La Salle College High School to produce young men who are adept in many areas, who are active community members and positive role models for future generations.

“Stressing multiple talents in students is important to us and helps [students] discover who they are,” O’Toole says. “This is excellent preparation for college and, even more, for life.”

La Salle College High School
8605 W. Cheltenham Ave.
Wyndmoor, PA 19038

Photograph by Sam Fritch