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Hats off to Cardinal Dougherty

Catholic HS closes after 54 years.

The 191 members of Cardinal Dougherty High School's Class of 2010 toss their caps into the air. Their graduation is the last for the school in Olney, which will close this month.

The school opened in 1956, and when the very first class completed four years at the school in 1960 there were 1450 graduates. At its peak over 6,000 students were enrolled.

I photographed students outside the school last fall, the morning after the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced they were closing the school (along with North Catholic) citing declining enrollment and increased costs.

The mood was a little different then. On that day I recall school and archdiocese officials keeping me and the television cameras and other media outside a line in the middle of the sidewalk, to "protect the children."

So it was nice to be inside today for their celebration.

Click here for a gallery of historic images.

Senior Mary Matthews gets help with her gown from her younger sister Veronica Matthews who is a junior at the school. Mary will be attending Villanova next year. Veronica will move to Bishop McDevitt High School.

Teacher Joe Caruso hugs members of his AP Calculus class as they arrive for commencement. He had just given them a little speech after posing for a class photo, ending up with a favorite quote from UCLA basketball coach John Wooden: "You can't live a perfect day without doing something for someone who will never be able to repay you." Then he thanked the students for all they did for him. He doesn't yet know where in the archdiocese he'll teach next fall.

Bree Green carries the school flag behind US flag bearer Tygh Kane in the class procession. She is going on to Shippensburg University and Kane will be attending Penn State.

Teachers formed a corridor as the grads entered the auditorium. Alex Ramos gets a hug from his freshman science teacher Marian Sweeney. He will be going on to Penn State.

Cardinal Dougherty High alumnus Ray Minnigh Jr. (Class of '98) was in auditorium for his sister Teresa, who will be attending the University of the Arts. Their father is also a graduate (Class of '74).

Duong Nguyen poses with her younger brother Tri. She's headed to Penn State.

Football coach Dan Collins poses with Art Comas (right) and Jesse Rosinski. Collins was at the school for two seasons. The football team's overall record over 53 years of varsity football was 227-290-15. They won Catholic League championships in 1968 and 1982. Rosinski is headed to the US Marine Corps. Comas will be attending Chestnut Hill College. The coach doesn't yet know where he'll be next fall.

Alumni groups estimate that 2,000 to 2,500 graduates served in the armed forces. When Cardinal Dougherty closes, the memorial for 27 of those who were killed in Vietnam will be moved from the front of the school to the Rising Sun VFW Post in Lawncrest.