Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School has its roots in a small girls’ academy, 21 students strong, called All Hallows Academy, opened in 1886 by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary (we know them as “the BVMs”). All Hallows Academy occupied a beautiful complex of buildings built on the banks of the Arkansas River near downtown Wichita.
As the story goes, upon opening the school, our first principal, Sister Mary Veronica, BVM, planted several trees at the entrance. Overnight, the ever present winds of the Kansas prairie blew the trees out of the ground. The next day, Sister Mary Veronica replanted the trees only to have them blown over again. On the third day, in an act of Trinitarian conquest, Sister Mary Veronica planted the trees a third time, boldly proclaiming that we were establishing roots here no matter what. The next morning, the trees remained erect, and the school took root. Sister Mary Veronica’s dedication to the survival of those trees was but a foreshadowing of the dedication it would take to shepherd our school all the way to today.
In 1900, Bishop John Hennesey, Bishop of Wichita, requested that the name of All Hallows Academy be changed because of the negative connotation associated with the purely secular holiday of Halloween. The BVMs chose the name Mt. Carmel Academy, after their Mother House in Dubuque, Iowa. Mt. Carmel Academy has existed ever since, graduating a class of seniors in every year since 1887.
In 1956, the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, in conjunction with the Jesuit order of Catholic Priests, opened an all boys school on the east side of Wichita. This school was named after Father Emil Kapaun (pronounced "KAY pehn"), a priest of the Diocese of Wichita. Fr. Kapaun became a chaplain of the United States Army during the second world war and again during the Korean War. In November, 1950, Fr. Kapaun, serving in the 1st Cavalry of the US Army, was captured in the Battle of Unsan, a particularly brutal battle wherein Chinese soldiers, having sneaked in to North Korea to aid their political allies, overran the tremendously outnumbered American troops. Fr. Kapaun's stories of service, faithfulness and bravery before and during his period of captivity are well-documented. He died in a North Korean prison camp on May 23, 1951.
The Jesuit preparatory school for young men was called Chaplain Kapaun Memorial High School. Bishop Mark K. Carroll, Bishop of Wichita, consolidated Chaplain Kapaun Memorial and Mount Carmel Academy in 1971, forming Kapaun Mt. Carmel Catholic High School. The co-educational school now operates under the auspices of the Catholic Diocese of Wichita.
Kapaun Mt. Carmel is accredited by AdvanEd, the State of Kansas and the National Catholic Education Association. Institutional membership is held in the National Association of College Admissions Counselors and many professional organizations.