School History

Brother Rice High School embraces the Essential Elements of a Christian Brother Education and is named in honor of the founder of the Christian Brothers, Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice.

Academic and Athletic Leader

Brother Rice High School continues to be an academic leader. For the fourth consecutive year, Brother Rice has been named to the Top 50 Catholic High Schools in America Honor Roll. Additionally, Brother Rice was named one of the Top 20 schools for Academic Excellence, Catholic Identity and Civic Education.

Athletic success has always characterized Brother Rice High School through its history. The varsity football team marked its first “w” in the third game of its very first season with a 12-6 win over St. Phillip High School in 1958 – and this before Brother Rice had a senior class. Brother Rice became a member of the Illinois High School Association in 1975 and became the first Catholic League School to win an IHSA state championship in any sport with the baseball team’s state victory in 1976. Crusader teams have won an astonishing 117 league titles, 16 state championships (with a particular dominance in water polo), and numerous regional and sectional titles. The Crusaders participate in 15 different interscholastic sports on over 30 levels. Presently, over half of our student population participates in athletics.


The first faculty of eleven Brothers welcomed the freshman class of 420 students in September 1956. Brother William C. Penny was the school’s first principal and the main classroom and athletic facility was completed within a year of the schools opening. A standard of excellence that has been the hallmark of Brother Rice through its history was recognized by the North Central Association which granted accreditation only two years after opening, unusually fast for private schools. Brother Rice High School boasts one of the finest facilities of any Catholic high school in the nation, but this too has developed as a result of dedicated efforts throughout the school’s history.


Making way for the increasing demands of a college preparatory curriculum, Brother Rice opened in 1969 a new 16,000 square-foot library, now called the Pilon Learning Resource Center, which remains one of the largest and most technically advanced high-school libraries in the state.
Through the fund-raising efforts of the students, Mothers’ Club and Dads’ Clubs, a six-lane, 25-yard swimming pool and a band room, also opened in 1969.


The next major facility enhancement took place in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s during “Project 25,” yielding additional offices, a second gymnasium, a new weight room, a locker room, and a 110-seat lecture hall. Once again, student and parent fund raising provided the greatest portion of Project 25’s budget.


Responding to the growing needs for computer education, Brother Rice was among the first schools in the area to build and equip a full computer lab. The lab has undergone periodic upgrades since then including a major renovation and upgrade in 1994 when it was named the Joseph H. Cainkar Computer Center.

The Kairos Retreat Program became a part of the schools religious formation efforts in 1987. While maintaining its commitment to prepare students for college, Brother Rice High School founded its very successful Focus Program in 1985 to assist struggling students in their studies. Since its begin¬nings, the program has prepared hundreds of students, who might not have otherwise even considered attending college, for successful college experiences. In 1985, Brother Rice was one of the first schools in the state to receive the U. S. Department of Education Exemplary Schools award, confirming the schools continued commitment to excellence in education.


The APEX program was founded in 1995 to better serve the needs of the growing number of academically gifted students.

A football stadium was completed and dedicated in the fall of 1990, and in 1993 the “Rice Renaissance” campaign renovated the north gym as well as locker-room and computer facilities. The summer of 1996 saw the complete renovation of the school’s guidance center and construction of the new, state-of-the-art physics lab, the Petkus-Crane Physics Center. In 1999, lights installed through the generous contributions of the Brother Rice Family enabled football to be played at night. These 1990’s projects were also funded with student and parent help, but the major portions came from the now financially mature alumni, who have become generous supporters of all endeavors of the Brother Rice community.


The $2.75 million capital campaign, “Our Crusade Continues’, remodeled classrooms and labs, renovated the Main Office, opened a new student health center, kept student and administration technology up-to-date and added to the endowment fund for student financial assistance. A new 3700 square foot Fitness Center, the largest in the area, was completed. In 2004, Brother Rice installed a state-of-the-art, eight-lane, outdoor running track with areas associated for field events. The football and soccer stadium was also refurbished.

In August 2005, Br. Karl Walczak, President, and Mr. James Antos, Principal, welcomed 332 young men to the freshman class. They will join the more than 16,000 men who have graduated since 1956. These men will be taught as all Brother Rice students have been taught to live the school’s motto, “Act Manfully in Christ Jesus” in school and in life.

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