An educational mission begins

In the early 1960s, Cardinal Lawrence Shehan made the decision to build an Archdiocesan Catholic High School on a 72-acre site in Bel Air, Harford County.

The John Carroll School opened to 202 freshmen on September 9, 1964 under the leadership of Principal Reverend Raymond Wanner. In 1971, The John Carroll School, in an agreement with the Archdiocese of Baltimore, became an independent, Catholic school, operated by its own elected Board of Trustees and administrated by a Principal. In 2008, the Board of Trustees voted to change the organizational structure of the School to the President-Principal model, which continues to this day.

From its earliest days, the School reflected a unique partnership of clergy, religious and laity.

Today, that partnership remains part of the School’s educational mission. Students are encouraged to see that the true spirit of Christianity is a spirit of justice, charity and compassion, and that they cannot consider themselves Christians without showing care and concern for their neighbors.

Infused by this spirit, The John Carroll School has flourished for nearly 60 years. The physical campus expanded three times — 12 classrooms were added in 1984, a Fine Arts Wing was constructed in 2000, and an athletic addition was made in 2003. In 2014–2015, air conditioning was added to the Auditorium and Cafeteria, and two new turf fields with stadium lights made their debut. Since then, we’ve made even more significant updates to campus, including:

  • Installing a new turf baseball field, Alumni Field at Kutcher Foundation Stadium;
  • Transforming the original library to a collegiate-style Learning Commons, a flexible learning and social space;
  • Completing six new, state-of-the-art Science Labs modeled after real-world labs;
  • Renovating the School's original courtyard to the beautiful Streett Family Courtyard, a place for students to gather and relax at the heart of the School;
  • Opening the Brown Fitness Center and installing an indoor golf simulator; and
  • Unveiling a fully renovated Auditorium with new seating, flooring, lighting and equipment... with much more planned for the future!

Through innovative practices and curriculum, we prepare students to positively influence a global society as critical thinkers and creative problem solvers while being socially responsible, spiritually centered and morally grounded in our Catholic beliefs.

Who was Archbishop John Carroll?

Archbishop John Carroll laid the foundation for the Catholic Church in America and established the Catholic educational system in this country. A member of one of the most prominent families of colonial times, John Carroll was born in Upper Marlboro, MD in 1735 but left for Europe in 1743 to continue his education as a Jesuit priest. In 1773, Father Carroll returned to colonial Maryland as a missionary and, in 1776, answered the call of the Continental Congress to accompany Benjamin Franklin on a diplomatic mission to Canada to secure aid in the fight against England. Later, he was credited with urging the fledgling U.S. legislature to include provisions for religious liberty in the Constitution.

In 1784, the Vatican named John Carroll head of the mission in America, and among his first priorities he founded Georgetown University, America’s oldest Catholic college, in 1789. He was also responsible for establishing St. Mary’s Seminary, America’s first Catholic Seminary, in Baltimore, and laid the cornerstone for the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore. He was named America’s first bishop in 1789 and the nation’s first archbishop in 1810.

John Carroll’s patriotic contributions to America in its formative period are the inspiration for calling the School’s mascot the Patriot and where the school newspaper derives its name. John Carroll used “Pacificus” as his nom de plume for a series of articles he published, and now serves as the title of the school yearbook.

The John Carroll School bears his name in honor of his dedication to the Catholic faith, the United States and education in the Catholic tradition. More than 200 years after his death, John Carroll’s beliefs and values continue to influence the Catholic identity of The John Carroll School. His life of service and leadership in a time of unprecedented change is an inspiring model of meaningful action to improve the lives of others and to leave an enduring legacy for the future.

Archbishop John Carroll, a leading figure in colonial America, laid the groundwork for the Catholic Church and education in the US. He founded Georgetown University, the first Catholic Seminary, and advocated for religious freedom in the Constitution. His legacy continues to shape The John Carroll School's identity to this day.