In four months, Troy Hill will no longer be home to Cardinal Wuerl North Catholic High School.
This fall, the school will begin a new era in a location 20 miles north, inside a $72 million facility in Cranberry. The building will be able to accommodate up to 1,000 students — almost five times the current enrollment — and it’s located to help attract students from the city’s northern suburbs.
The Troy Hill building opened in 1939. Three years later an annex was added. A 1942 photo captured several dozen priests overseeing its dedication.
The building and the school are notable because of the big names that studied there — or students who later became big names. Pittsburgh Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney graduated from the school in 1950. Other notable alumni include former CIA Director Michael Hayden and former Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl — a quarterback, free safety, kicker, punter and infielder for the Trojans in football and baseball.
In 1973, North Catholic High School (as it was known until May 2012) became coeducational.
But it might have remained for boys only, since the reform was met with opposition that year. Students protested outside the Pittsburgh Diocese’s office on March 7. Inside, two students met with John T. Cicco, Catholic schools superintendent, to argue for a merger. Cicco was resistant, saying coeducation would come “eventually.”
In the end, students’ determination and the closing of the all-female St. Domenec helped force the change, which the diocese announced 20 days after the protest. Female students were allowed to attend that fall, though gym classes remained separate.
There were architectural changes that took place in the 1970s, including the 1978 expansion of the gymnasium floor to WPIAL standards. Male and female gym classes could then take place simultaneously, according to a story in The Pittsburgh Press, but with a curtain in the middle to separate genders.
Right before the school became co-ed, approximately 820 boys were enrolled there. Today, the school’s enrollment is down to 200 students, a number administrators say they want to increase.
The Troy Hill property has been on the market for months, according to the school’s Director of Operations, Chuck Goetz, but a sale has not been finalized.