(6-25-22) Things could be changing at a Chicago suburban Catholic high school in the future. Mt. Carmel an all-male school for over 100 years in considering a change in 2023.

It didn’t take long for comments from those involved with Mount Carmel to react to the possible change.

Shortly after the petition was placed on change.org the goal of 1,000 signatures was already reached.

From Mt. Carmel school officials-

(6-25-22) With  a final decision date set for August 9 and 10, the  leaders of Mount Carmel High School invite the wider school community to learn about research that has been done and to share their views about the possibility of the venerable all-male school becoming coeducational in the fall of 2023.  This initiative of both the Carmelite Order and the mostly lay Board of Directors of the school will come full circle when those two bodies meet separately on August 9 and 10 to make a final decision.  School President Brendan Conroy, Chair of the Board of Directors Don Barry MC ’63, and Carmelite Provincial Fr. Carl Markelz, O. Carm., who chairs the Carmelite Board of Members, are in full agreement with the Board of Directors that the question needs to be answered. 

The decision is a shared one between the Board of Directors, who decide a course of action,  and the Board of Members, comprised of Carmelite priests and brothers who must give approval to such a weighty matter before it can happen. In addition, the school will continue to keep Archdiocese of Chicago Catholic Schools Superintendent Dr. Greg Richmond apprised of any decision. 

Since 1900, Mount Carmel has built a legacy of educating young men from a wide variety of backgrounds—sons of laborers, steelworkers, executives and professionals.  Each new generation has changed the face of Mount Carmel as its reputation  spread and its appeal grew beyond the South and Southeast Sides of Chicago. Parents clearly desired a Catholic, Carmelite education of rigorous academics, discipline, faith and athletic achievement for their sons.  Even as Mount Carmel has diversified ethnically, religiously, racially and economically over the last 70 years, families still seek the same thing for their sons: the Mount Carmel experience. President Conroy says –

“As an iconic Chicago institution, Mount Carmel has from its founding  embraced bold action in order to form young people to live with ‘zeal for God, for life, for learning.’ Our graduates are leaders in all fields.  The Catholic, Carmelite values that have imbued the Mount Carmel experience for many generations deserve a continued prominent place in the educational landscape of Chicago.”  

Mount Carmel has consistently held its own in attracting students over the last several years, and in the past 20 years has even  grown its market share of the shrinking number of  students who seek an affordable, all-male, Catholic, college preparatory  education.  Thus, 122 years later, school leaders feel strongly that it is time to proactively  consider whether and how to offer that same opportunity to the young women of the families who come to 6410 S. Dante.  

Don Barry, Chair of the Board of Directors and a 1963 alumnus of Mount Carmel

“The time is now to consider this, while we are strong in all aspects of the Mount Carmel experience.  Regardless of student population, the mission has always carried on.  That will continue.”

Fr. Carl Markelz, O. Carm.,  Provincial of the Carmelites, and a former Principal and President of the school, states,

“Mount Carmel has never rested on its laurels, always seeking excellence and growth and challenging norms. The Carmelites applaud this exploration, since it  intends to build on the strengths of an already strong school. Now is the time for the Mount Carmel community to enter into constructive dialogue about coeducation.”  

Acknowledging  that growth has been elusive for all single-gender schools in the archdiocese, school leaders point to demographics showing fewer students coming out of Catholic elementary schools over a long period and continuing into the future.  Mount Carmel attracts students from a variety of schools—Catholic, public and private—and in starting this conversation seeks to better sustain that strength.  Leaders noted that growth in Chicago Catholic high schools is occurring in coeducational settings. 

Therefore, the Order of Carmelites, the Mount Carmel Board of Directors and the school leaders will act from a position of strength to listen to the school’s stakeholders—students, parents, employees, alumni, donors—before convening for a final decision about coeducation on August 9 and 10. 

In commenting on the process this summer for sharing information and listening to school stakeholders, Brendan Conroy, President of Mount Carmel, states-

“We look forward to constructive dialogue as a family of Mount Carmel.  There are so many people who care deeply about the school—students, teachers and staff, alumni, parents, donors and benefactors, and we’ll be taking time with each to share and learn.  All have a high interest in ensuring Mount Carmel will thrive for the next 120 years.” 

And as chief academic officer of the school, Principal Scott Tabernacki, MC ’02, is as committed as ever to the academic, spiritual and social growth of the students. He emphasizes –

“ Regardless of the August 9-10 decision, Mount Carmel will continue to preserve and enhance our Catholic, Carmelite identity;  offer a rigorous academic program that prepares students for success in  college and career; and focus on the holistic  development of mind, body and spirit.  That is our tradition.  That will be our future.” 

For information on the Information and Listening Sessions this summer, students, parents, alumni and donors are encouraged to go to the school website, www.mchs.org.  MCHS community stakeholders may also share their opinions and ask questions via email at  MCforthefuture@mchs.org.   

Over the years the Caravan has had a successful athletic program…adding girls sports in the future would seem to be headed in that direction.

Mount Carmel competes in the Chicago Catholic League (CCL). The school’s forerunner, St. Cyril, was one of the eight founding members of the league in 1912, and Mount Carmel is one of five remaining charter members. Mount Carmel is a member of the Illinois High School Association (IHSA).

Mount Carmel sponsors interscholastic athletic teams in:

baseball, basketball, bowling, cross country, football, golf, lacrosse, soccer, swimming & diving, tennis, track & field, volleyball, water polo, and wrestling.

While not sponsored by the IHSA, the school also sponsors ice hockey and rugby.

The following teams have won their respective state championship tournament or meet:

Baseball (IHSA 4A): 2012–13
Basketball (IHSA AA): 1984–85
Football (IHSA, multiple classes): 1980–81, 1988–89, 1989–90, 1990–91, 1991–92, 1996–97, 1998–99, 1999–2000, 2000–01, 2002–03, 2012–13, 2013–14, 2019-20.
Ice Hockey (AHAI)  : 1979, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1990
Wrestling (IHSA AA): 1991–92, 1992–93, 1993–94, (IHSA 3A) 2021-2022
Water Polo (Illinois Water Polo): 1975

The football team’s 13 state championships trail Joliet Catholic’s 15 state championships for the most in state history,[ while they are second in all-time in wins (734) to East St. Louis, Senior (761).

The football team is also credited with a record 14 Chicago Prep Bowl Championships in 1927, 1933, 1950, 1951, 1952, 1960, 1967, 1981, 1983, 1985, 1993, 2001, 2011, 2015, and 2016. The 1932 Prep Bowl was not played when the Public League champion refused to play; Mount Carmel claims this as a forfeit championship. The school also claims a Prep Bowl championship in 1939, a game that ended in a tie.

The Ice Hockey Club has amassed a Catholic League record 20 Kennedy Cup awards (1965, 1973, 1974, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1993, 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2000) [43]

In 1908, the first ever basketball game played by DePaul University was a game against St. Cyril’s on January 7, 1908.

In 1916, St. Cyril’s and Hyde Park High School competed in the first ever dual boxing meet between Cook County schools. The tradition of boxing at Mt. Carmel continues to present day at the annual Fight Night in Spring.

In 1985, coach Ed McQuillan led Mt. Carmel’s basketball team to the IHSA’s large class (“AA”) state championship- the first won by a Parochial school. Future Los Angeles Laker Mel McCants and New York Giant Chris Calloway led the team to a 28-4 overall record, culminating in a victory over Springfield Lanphier at Assembly Hall in Champaign. James Farr scored 30 of the team’s 46 points and Derek Boyd’s buzzer beater in double overtime sealed the victory.

In 1995, Mt. Carmel’s wrestling team was in contention for its fourth consecutive state championship. After winning its regional tournament, the IHSA disqualified the team from further participation, claiming the team had violated the cap on tournament participation. Mt. Carmel filed suit in court, and a Cook County judge determined that the IHSA was following its rules arbitrarily, and ordered the Association to restore Mt. Carmel to the state tournament. An hour after the Illinois Supreme Court ruled on an IHSA appeal, and sided with Mt. Carmel, the IHSA suspended the dual team state tournament. The IHSA attempted to appeal to the original judge. When that failed, the tournament was cancelled.

At least three former students have competed in the Olympic Games (Chris Chelios in Ice Hockey, Eric Pappas in Baseball, and Joe Williams in Wrestling).