MT. De CHANTAL ACADEMY, Wheeling, West Virginia
From: West Virginians
Published by The West Virginia Biographical Association, 1928
Submitted by Linda Fluharty.
MOUNT DE CHANTAL convent and academy of The Visitation, situated two and one-half miles from Wheeling, is the oldest Catholic educational institution in the State of West Virginia; being now in the eightieth year of its existence. The first body of teachers, a colony of eight Visitation Sisters, was brought to Wheeling from Baltimore by Rt. Rev. Richard Vincent Whelan, first Bishop of the Diocese, the teaching staff being afterward reinforced by the acquisition of members of the same Order of the Visitation from Georgetown, D. C. A boarding and day school was conducted by these Sisters in the city of Wheeling from 1848 until 1865 at which latter date the community and school were transferred to the present location, where a more commodious convent and academy had been erected for their accommodation.
The original band of Sisters and their immediate successors were women of remarkable scholastic attainments, establishing by means of their proficiency in the higher branches of literature, art and science, a prestige which Mt. de Chantal has never lost.
From modest beginnings the academy gradually gained the reputation of being one of the leading convent schools of the country, the music department becoming especially well-known, by reason of the fact that the lady by whom it was established was famous for her superior musical education and a phenomenal voice. This was Miss Louise Gubert, afterwards Sister Mary Agnes. Although, in time, Mt. de Chantal became nationally renowned as a music school, its academic department bore an equally high standard for thoroughness, breadth and refinement. Scholarly women succeeded each other in the various departments, each generation adding its contribution to the ever-advancing influence which the institution exerted for solid intellectual culture. Among the graduates of Mt. de Chantal, in the four score years of its history, may be counted hundreds of representative American women of high social position and of various creeds; while, in the records of the community which has carried on the apostleship of education with such continuous success, there may be found the names of many who left Alma Mater only to return and give their services to the perpetuation of her hallowed traditions.
The system of education employed at Mount de Chantal is to be commended for its practical features. In the early years of its career a method of teaching formed by the learned Bishop Whelan, gave scope and direction to the mental training of the pupils, and that method still preserves its fundamental principles, upon which newer educational methods have been engrafted. The curriculum as it stands today, embraces, a standardized course of studies, arranged on the plan of the latest elementary and high school regulations. A staff of instructors holding college degrees constitutes the teaching faculty, in academic and music departments while in the departments of art and expression, special teachers are employed.
In 1909, the new wing, known as the Music and Art building, was erected. This structure comprises a fine conservatory of music, an art studio and display room, besides a well-equipped gymnasium, where the pupils may engage in the various forms of athletics which nowadays constitute an indispensable feature of school life.
In 1923, Mount de Chantal celebrated the seventy-fifth anniversary of her foundation. The event was honored by the attendance of many members of the clergy, besides a large gathering of the Mount de Chantal Alumnae Association, an organization which numbers about nine hundred of the Mount's former students. With the commemoration of the seventy-fifth anniversary a new era in the history of Mount de Chantal was begun, an era which promises to perpetuate the achievements of the past three quarters of a century.