Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School

Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School
Bishop O'Connell High School
6600 Little Falls Road
Arlington, Virginia, 22213
 United States
Coordinates 38°53′41″N 77°09′40″W / 38.894753°N 77.161094°W / 38.894753; -77.161094Coordinates: 38°53′41″N 77°09′40″W / 38.894753°N 77.161094°W / 38.894753; -77.161094
Type Parochial Secondary
Established 1957
Oversight Diocese of Arlington
President Kathleen Prebble
Principal Joseph Vorbach III, Ph.D.
Grades 912
Enrollment Approx. 1,200[1]  (2008)
Student to teacher ratio 14:1[1]
Campus Suburban
Color(s) Royal Blue & Silver Grey          
Mascot The Knights
Accreditation(s) Southern Association of Colleges and Schools [2]
Newspaper The Visor
Yearbook 'The Shield'
Affiliation Roman Catholic

Bishop Denis J. O'Connell High School (also known as DJO[3]) was founded in 1957 in Arlington County, Virginia. It was operated by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, but has been under the direction of the Diocese of Arlington since 1974. The school is named for Bishop Denis J. O'Connell, a bishop of the Diocese of Richmond from 1912 to 1926.



Advanced Placement Program

These AP Courses are offered to students:[4]

Social Studies:

  1. European History
  2. United States History
  3. United States Government
  4. Comparative Government


  1. Biology
  2. Chemistry
  3. Physics B
  4. Physics C (Electricity & Magnetism)[5]
  5. Physics C (Mechanics)[5]
  6. Environmental Science


  1. English Language and Literature
  2. Spanish Language and Literature
  3. French Language
  4. German Language
  5. Latin: Vergil

Fine Arts:

  1. Studio Art: Drawing
  2. Art History
  3. Music Theory


  1. Calculus AB
  2. Calculus BC
  3. Statistics


  1. Psychology
  2. Microeconomics[6]
  3. Macroeconomics[6]
  4. Computer Science

Honors Program

O'Connell High School (frontal view)

Honors classes are also offered in a variety of academic areas. These courses are offered at the honors level:[7]

  • Accounting 1
  • Advanced Art
  • Algebra 2/Trigonometry
  • Analysis
  • Calculus
  • Chemistry
  • English
  • French 3 and 4
  • Geometry
  • German 3 and 4
  • Intro to Humanities
  • Latin 3 and 4
  • Physics
  • Spanish 3 and 4
  • Spanish for Speakers 4
  • Special Topics in Religious Thought
  • World Religions and Christian Morality
  • Symphonic Band
  • U.S. Government
  • U.S. History
  • World History



Bishop O'Connell High School participates in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference (WCAC). In this league, O'Connell participates in all major sports against other catholic high schools of the D.C. metro area.


Since the mid-1980s, the school's primary athletic rival has been Paul VI Catholic High School, located in Fairfax. Rivalries have sometimes resulted in high tensions between the schools.[citation needed]
In late 2009, tempers flared so high[when?] that police action had to be taken to cool the rivalry.
DeMatha Catholic High School, located in Hyattsville, Maryland, is another rival, particularly in boys basketball.


Boys Varsity Team

These are some statistics from the last five years of O'Connell Varsity Boys Basketball:[8]


Girls Varsity Soccer

The O'Connell Girls Varsity Soccer team held the record for being undefeated from (12) to (12).[citation needed] They were National Champions in 2004.[9]

Boys Varsity Soccer

The boys soccer team beat the 19-0-1 DeMatha Stags on October 31, 2006 in the conference quarter-finals. The victory prevented DeMatha, who at one point this season was ranked number 1 in the nation, from winning their 4th straight WCAC title. This resulted in the defeat of DeMatha's 67 game unbeaten streak. The team then lost to Paul VI 2-1 in the semi-final round of the WCAC tournament.[citation needed]


O'Connell main driveway and bus port

O'Connell has over 60 student-operated clubs. Their focuses are generally academic, charitable, and common interest. These clubs currently include: (listed alphabetically)[10]

  • Altar Society
  • Philosophy Club
  • Ping Pong Club
  • Polish Club
  • Pure Love Club[13]
  • Red Cross Club
  • Science and Engineering Club
  • Shield (Yearbook)
  • Speech Club
  • St. Ann's Tutors
  • Student Council Association (SCA)
  • Student Trainers
  • Student Ushers
  • Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.)
  • S.A.V.E.[14]
  • Teens Against Cancer Club
  • Visor (Newspaper)
  • Weight Training Club
  • Ultimate Frisbee Club

Charitable events


The O'Connell Superdance is an annual 12 hour dance-a-thon held at the school which raises money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The Superdance is organized and run by students. It was started under the administration of principal Msgr. James McMurtrie. O’Connell students began holding the Superdance in 1976 because students wanted to speed the discovery of a cure for cystic fibrosis (CF), a fatal disease of the lungs which had claimed the life of sophomore Brenda O’Donnell on April 14, 1975. Her sister Maura was a senior in 1976 and also had cystic fibrosis. Their brother, Sean, died of cystic fibrosis that same year.

Maura graduated and went on to nursing school at Marymount University, continuing to support the Superdance in hopes that a cure would be found. Her last Superdance was in 1978 when she came out of the hospital just for the event. In a speech delivered to the O’Connell community she said:

“All of you I know have dreams – dreams of college, of success, of love and happiness – dreams of the future. We with cystic fibrosis have dreams too. Your wonderful all-out efforts and work for this dance-a-thon may help make some of our dreams come true.”

Two months later, she too died of this disease.[citation needed]

Over the past thirty years, O'Connell students have raised over $3,000,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, an organization dedicated to finding a cure for the disease. Bishop Denis J. O'Connell's Superdance is the largest high school fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in the nation, and one of the largest high school fundraising events in the country.[citation needed]

Chunky Soup Drive

The Chunky Soup Drive is held annually throughout the month of October. Students have a month to collect as many cans of Chunky Soup as possible. At the end of the month, cans are collected and donated to Christ House homeless shelter in Alexandria, Virginia. According to the school, this event yields over 8,000 cans of soup each year.[15] This year students collected the highest number of cans ever: over 12,800.[citation needed]

Notable alumni

  • Bryan Louiselle (1984): Music Adaptation and Arrangement, notable for Disney's High School Musical[16]
  • Edward DeMarco (1978): current acting director of the Federal Housing and Finance Agency (FHFA)
  • Pat McGee (1991): Singer, songwriter, guitarist; founding member and frontman of the Pat McGee Band.





  • John Arsala (1995): Played professionally in Europe for Polonia Warsaw. 1991 - 2000: Member of the United States National Olympic Development Program.

Women's Soccer

  • Nataly Arias (2004): Member of the Colombia National Soccer team during the 2011 Woman's World Cup in Germany


  • Kate Ziegler (2006): World record holder in the 1500m freestyle


The morning of May 7, 2002, on D.C. metro area shock jock Elliot Segal's radio program, DC101's Elliot in the Morning was conducting a contest. The winners of this contest would be cage dancers at an upcoming Kid Rock concert at George Mason University's Patriot Center. Wanting to be contestants, two sixteen-year-old O'Connell students, claiming to be eighteen, called the show. Instead of discussing the contest, the students discussed alleged sexual activity at O'Connell. [18] The students, who had used false names on air, were suspended the same day for their comments.[19] The principal addressed the student body over the PA system and criticized the content of that morning's show. The following day (May 8), Mr. Segal, angered by the students' suspension, personally insulted the principal on air, making lewd insinuations about his family. He also mocked the school's mission statement.[20] The two days of broadcasting were ruled indecent by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). As a result, in October 2003, sixteen months after the incident, DC101's parent company Clear Channel Communications was fined $55,000. [21]


  1. ^ a b Statistical information gathered from O'Connell's official site's O'Connell: History & Enrollment page.
  2. ^ SACS-CASI. "SACS-Council on Accreditation and School Improvement". Retrieved 2009-06-23. [dead link]
  3. ^ "DJO" is an abbreviation for "Denis J. O'Connell."
  4. ^ Advanced placement course listings taken from Academics: AP Program on O'Connell's official site.
  5. ^ a b Only offered as a combined AP Physics C Electromagnetism and Mechanics class
  6. ^ a b Only offered as a combined Macro/Micro Economics class
  7. ^ Honors course listing found on individual department pages within O'Connell's Academics: Available Courses page.
  8. ^ Statistics taken from O'Connell Boys Basketball page.
  9. ^ National Soccer Coaches Association of America (NSCAA)
  10. ^ Club names/info taken from O'Connell Clubs Page
  11. ^ Helping Hands
  12. ^ Martha's Table
  13. ^ Pure Love Club
  14. ^ S.A.V.E.
  15. ^ O'Connell Admissions Page
  16. ^ Bryan Louiselle
  17. ^ O'Connell Boy's Basketball official site.
  18. ^ Atlantic Magazine article on the incident: Air Pollution
  19. ^ FCC Transcript of Elliot in the Morning's offensive material from May 7th and 8th, 2002 [1]
  20. ^ Mission Statement: "Our mission is to provide students an education rooted in the life of Christ and to foster the pursuit of excellence in the whole person." (quoted from O'Connell Website)
  21. ^ FCC Announcement of Fine (Released October 2, 2003)

External links

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