The Welsh Academy began in the 1990s as a dream of then-Saint Ignatius President Rev. Robert J. Welsh, S.J. ’54. He hoped to create a school for urban middle school boys who could be academically successful at a college-prep school like Saint Ignatius if given the right opportunities.
The dream was revived in the high school’s second Strategic Plan, which sought to determine if this school was something Saint Ignatius could—and should—pursue. In 2017, Jesuit regent Dan Dixon was missioned to Saint Ignatius to lead a feasibility study; the Saint Ignatius Board of Regents approved the decision to create the academy in 2018. Under the leadership of Saint Ignatius President Rev. Raymond Guiao, S.J. ’82, Dixon became implementation director, hiring Founding Principal Mary Ann Vogel, Ed.D., and admitting the first class of sixth graders in 2019.
During its first year, the academy utilized spaces throughout the Saint Ignatius campus while the former Foursquare Church building on the corner of West 32nd and Carroll Ave. was renovated. That structure had housed various religious denominations during the 1800s and 1900s, including the City of Cleveland’s first Hispanic parish. In October 2020 it reopened as the home for Welsh Academy students.
Fun Fact: During renovations to the academy building, a time capsule from the year 1863 was discovered along with the following contents, a German-language Church newspaper, US coin currency, and a Union Soldier Payment Coin. The inaugural Welsh Academy students and staff placed their own time capsule in the new building, to be opened only when another major building renovation occurs.
The Welsh Academy is an entity within Saint Ignatius High School and academy students have access to the campus and facilities. Welsh Academy students have opportunities to participate in all-campus events, to work with Saint Ignatius faculty, as well as to partner with current high school students and the local community.