A group of Catholic laymen, many belonging to the Prelature of Opus Dei (“Work of God”), founded The Heights School in 1969. Starting as a middle school on Garrison Street in Northwest Washington, D.C., The Heights aimed to prepare boys for success in high school while inculcating in them a deep Christian formation, an adventurous approach to life’s challenges, and the desire to seek holiness in and through everyday life and work. From the beginning, the School sought guidance from Opus Dei to ensure the Christian orientation of all the School’s activities.
In 1971, Dr. Robert H. Jackson assumed the role of Headmaster and began the upper school. Dr. Jackson, an Englishman, left his mark on the School in various ways. A lively and witty approach to the rigors of study and a disdain for false prestige characterized his leadership of the School.
Seven years later, in 1978, The Heights purchased the Potomac campus and started the lower school. By 1983, construction of the main building allowed the entire school, grades three through twelve, to be united on the Potomac campus. The Garrison Street facility reverted to its original use as a supplemental educational center for young men and is now known as the Tenley Study Center.
The growth of the School continued throughout the tenure of Headmaster Joseph McPherson, 1983-1997. Capture-the-Flag on feast days, the Maryland Day Gala, the Senior Project, and the intramural flag football tournament became Heights traditions under his aegis. The Board of Directors adopted a Master Plan for the improvement of the School’s physical plant that was approved by Montgomery County.
Under the leadership of Richard McPherson, Headmaster from 1997 until 2002, The Heights continued to blossom. Heights students distinguished themselves on the national Advanced Placement exams, and increasing numbers of boys were accepted into the nation’s most prestigious universities. A new log cabin was built in 1997, and the library and Chesterton Hall were built in 1999. The School’s entrance was reconfigured, and outdoor basketball and tennis courts were added.
Alvaro de Vicente ’83 assumed the role of Headmaster in July 2002. As an alumnus, a former board member, and a soccer coach, Mr. de Vicente lends to the position a thorough knowledge of the spirit and culture of the School: to educate young men of vision and purpose who look to serve society through their professional work and family life. Mr. de Vicente’s administration, with the active support of the Board of Directors, has focused on attracting and retaining the highest caliber of faculty, while preserving and expanding the campus buildings to match the excellence of the School’s curriculum and academic accomplishments. A new chapel, upper school and administration building were opened during the 2007-08 school year.
In 2009-2010 the School celebrated its fortieth anniversary. The following five years saw numerous academic, cultural, and athletic initiatives and achievements flourish at the School. The upper school has expanded its curriculum with the addition of the Robert H. Jackson Scholars Program (named in honor of the first Headmaster of The Heights) and the History of Western Thought program. The seventh and ninth grade Humanities “Core” program has enabled students to think broadly and to facilitate their transition to mature learning.
The advent of the Curriculum Alive program in the lower school has provided students with a love of adventure and an interest and passion in drama, mountaineering, culinary delights, gardening, and other areas. Crescite Week seminars and trips have continued to increase in scope and travel, both locally and internationally. The music, drama, and studio art programs have developed outstanding opportunities for our students, with yearly performances and art exhibits. The School’s athletic program currently provides twelve sports for middle and upper school students throughout the academic year.
In November of 2017, The Heights honored its first and only fallen Cavalier, Lt. Andrew Bacevich ’98, with a schoolwide dedication of a memorial plaque. Thanks to members of the class of 1998, the music department, Dr. and Mrs. Bacevich, and the idea of Mr. Chris Breslin, we were able to host this memorable event. In the spring of 2018, a new turf field was inaugurated, and additionally, the following spring, a new baseball field. That same year, a new music hall and rehearsal space with marked acoustical improvement was completed.
The academic year 2019-2020 marked the School’s 50th Anniversary. In October of 2019, Alumni Weekend began with a Friday evening reception at The Heights first home on Garrison Street. Saturday festivities included a Mass for deceased alumni and was followed by a dinner and get-together commemorating the founding and growth of the School. The weekend concluded with the annual Heights Golf Classic on Columbus Day.
Crescite Week trips returned from India, Greece, and the Holy Land just ahead of the coronavirus shutdown. The Heights School experienced distance learning from March until June. Commencement exercises for the Class of 2020 occurred three weeks after the scheduled date!