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In 1890, as Chicago continued to grow apace and immigrants flooded into the booming industrial and commercial city, the pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish, Rev. Vincent Barzynski, C.R., opened one of the first high schools on the Northwest Side of Chicago. Father Barzynski had organized a number of Polish-American Catholic institutions, including several parishes and the Polish Roman Catholic Union of America. Now he turned some of his attention to forming a high school in the old frame structure which had formerly been the church for St. Stanislaus parish. In September, 1890, St. Stanislaus College became the first secondary school established by the Resurrectionist Fathers in the United States.

Father Barzynski appointed two priests of the Congregation of the Resurrection to staff the newly organized school. Rev. Joseph Halter, CR., an experienced and devoted teacher, was given the arduous task of directing the school and teaching most of the classes, assisted by Rev. John Piechowski, C.R. The two classrooms in the old frame church made up the entire school plant. Each student had a chair and table assigned to him, at which he did his work throughout the school year.

The first year "the college," as it was called, was open, only twelve young men enrolled, Entreaties went out to the parents to send their teen-aged boys to high school. Many boys after finishing the sixth grade of grammar school, were packed off to a steel mill or apprenticed into some trade to begin to earn a living. Immigrant parents with seven or eight children could not spare the eldest son of the family by indulging in such luxury as a high school education. A slow and tedious process of gentle persuasion on the part of the parish and high school Fathers convinced some parents of the importance and benefits of an institution of higher learning. In those first years tuition was a mere twenty-five cents a month for classes six days a week, September through July.

Fathers Barzynski and Halter pressed on to make St. Stanislaus College a success. In June, 1891, an oral examination of the first students, open to the public, was held. Father Halter wanted to show the parents the remarkable progress their sons had made during the year. The boys were tested in such subjects as English, Latin, mathematics, history, and bookkeeping. The parents were literally amazed at the accomplishments of their sons. In the face of the opposition to high school education, these public examinations helped to clear doubts in the minds of the parents who made sacrifices to send their sons to the school.

Others, however, were not convinced of the value of a more advanced education, and saw high school for their sons as a sheer waste of time. After a year of operation, the school faced the prospect of being closed. Not enough students were entering the new school. Both Father Barzynski and Father Halter did not allow themselves to be discouraged, and continued to work even harder to make the school succeed. After two years of hard work and constant anxiety, Father Halter's health failed. Father Barzynski advised him to take a much needed rest and sent him to Canada. Rev. Francis Gordon, C.R., was to take over the direction of the school temporarily in Father Halter's absence. Father Halter never returned to Chicago and his beloved high school. His health declined steadily, and he never took another administrative post. He died in Canada in 1896, at the age of only thirty-nine.

The school year 1891-92 saw still discouragingly low attendance. Father Barzynski appointed Father Piechowski as principal. Father Piechowski was determined to keep the school open, despite low attendance and financial difficulties. Slowly parents' attitudes were changed. Eighty-eight boys enrolled for the school year 1892-93. Father Piechowski hired four lay teachers and introduced a commercial course in addition to the classical course already being offered. The tuition was raised from twenty-five cents a month to twenty-five dollars per year.

In 1895, Father Piechowski was succeeded by Rev. John Kruszynski, C.R. On July 2, 1897, the first commencement exercises of St. Stanislaus College were held in the school auditorium. Of the six students who graduated that year, five entered the Congregation of the Resurrection, and were later sent to Rome to complete their studies for the priesthood. In 1899 the school moved into a more substantial facility, a brick building on Division Street.

After ten years as principal, Father Kruszynski was followed by Rev. John Kosinski, C.R., whose term of office extended from 1905 to 1909. During his tenure, plans were formulated to organize a new St. Stanislaus educational center which would include high school, college, and university departments. Three blocks of land were purchased in the Lakeview township, then a suburb of Chicago. Civic committees were formed throughout the Midwest to help finance the project, which was seen as a way of expanding what The New World called "the oldest Polish institution of higher learning in the United States." By 1913, $18,000 had been raised. With the outbreak of World War I, however, the money was given, with the permission of the donors, to the war effort.

In 1909, Rev. Ladislaus Zapala, C.R., became principal. He added a two-year commercial course, with day and night classes, to the school program. When Father Zapala was elected superior general of the Congregation of the Resurrection in 1920, he was succeeded by Rev. Thaddeus Ligman, C.R., who served as principal for two terms, 1920-23 and 1925-1931. From 1923-25, Rev. Leo Jasinski, C.R., was the principal.

In 1928, another building was constructed and became known as Gordon Hall, named for the former rector. It provided a gymnasium, science laboratories, classrooms, and a cafeteria. In 1930, old St. Stanislaus College was renamed Weber High School, in honor of the Most Rev. Archbishop Joseph Weber, C.R., former regional superior of the Resurrectionist Congregation in the United States and Canada.

During the difficult years of the Great Depression, Rev. Mitchell Starzynski, C.R., who was also the editor of the Polish Daily News, guided the school from 1931-35, followed by Rev. Edward Morkowski, C.R., who held office from 1938-1942. In the war years the genial Rev. Stanley Fiolek, C.R., headed the school until 1948. Rev. Louis Tusinski, C.R., served as principal for one year, but then was transferred as the Congregation's representative to Switzerland.

Rev. Stanley Sokulski, C.R., for many years an instructor at the school, followed Father Tusinski as principal. During Father Sokulski's term, a new and larger school building was constructed at a new location, 5252 West Palmer Street at Latrobe in the Cragin neighborhood. Classes were opened at the new site in September of 1950. That this new school, an unfulfilled hope for many years, became a reality, was due in large measure to the vision, courage, and untiring efforts of the provincial superior at that time, the Very Rev. Casimir Guziel, C.R.

Father Sokulski's successor was Father Edwin Korlowicz, C.R., whose term as principal lasted from 1954 to 1960. In September of 1960, Rev. George Jendrach, C.R., assumed the office which he held until 1966. Under his tenure, in 1962, a new chapel and a substantial addition to the twelve-year-old school were built to accommodate the growing number of students who wished to attend. Weber High School was then in a position to train a student body of 1,250 young men.

Weber was headed by Rev. Chester Mitoraj, C.R., from 1966-1972, followed by Rev. Eugene Sanders, C.R., 1972-78. Since 1978, Rev. Dennis Sanders, C.R., has been principal.

From a two classroom school in 1890, Weber High School has grown in ninety years to a large, modern educational institution. Its stated purpose however remains the same: to give youth a thorough and salutary preparation for time and eternity. This was the ideal set down by Father Peter Semenenko, C.R., co-founder of the Congregation of the Resurrection.

From "A History of the Offices, Agencies, and the Institutions of the Archdiocese of Chicago" - 1981

Reprinted with the permission of the Chicago Archdiocese.

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