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Malvern Preparatory School was founded in 1842 when it was established by the Order of St. Augustine as a preparatory school for boys. It was attached to what was then called the Augustinian College of Villanova, which was founded at the same time and on the same site, the Belle Air Estate in Radnor Township.
Malvern Prep moved to its present location in 1922 where it remains committed to developing its approximately 625 students (in grades 6-12) intellectually and spiritually.
Today, approximately 70 percent of the student body is of the Catholic faith.
Kurt Ruch has been at Malvern Prep for 25 years and the school’s athletic director for 16. He oversees an athletic program that includes 18 varsity sports, and has coached several of them himself during his career including soccer, cross country, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, and water polo.
The school is a member of the InterAc League in sports other than hockey.
Ruch says the school’s philosophy is centered on the teachings of St. Augustine. “We try to teach the whole student,” he said. “And in there, we’re going to being in truth, unity, and love, which are three words we kind of center everything around.
“We’re going to try to have boy become a man. And how we do that is, we tie the parents, the school and the teachers who are part of the school, and the student, into that triangle and try to raise that young boy into a man as we do that.”
The vast majority of the student body resides within 20 miles of the campus. Ruch offered an overview of what the school is looking for from perspective students.
“The first thing is a willingness to want to be in this environment,” he said. “Let’s face it in 2019, single-sex schools, there are only a few of us left You go back 30 years ago, there were a lot more on the Philadelphia landscape. A lot of them have become co-ed, you look at everyone in the (InterAc League) Penn Charter, Chestnut Hill and GA were all single-sex schools at one point and now they are all now co-ed. Haverford School and Malvern are the only two left in our league, and if you look in the area, single-sex schools are kind of a small little niche.
“And in that, we’re looking for young men that want to come in and be a part of our history, our tradition. They’re going to want to come in and make themselves a better person. And in that, it’s the academics, it’s sports, it’s the arts.”
Ruch says the school strongly encourages its students to involved themselves in a variety of activities as opposed to specializing.
“The one thing I definitely think that makes us different than other schools is we want students to come in here and do multiple things,” he said. “We don’t just look at a student coming in in sixth grade, or eighth grade, or ninth grade, whatever the grade is and say ‘You’re just going to be this, you’re just going to be an athlete.’
“Look at our play last year; one of our top lacrosse players was the lead in the play. You look at our music department; we have football linemen that are in there playing the piano, the violin, and doing things, and if you came to our homecoming, we had a soccer player and football player sing our national anthem as part pf our choir and then they go out and play in those games after they get done singing.
“We’re looking for those kinds of kids that want to do multiple things, that want to try to explore and find themselves in this crazy world that we all live in.”
The school is committed to the concept of community service.
“Each year our students have to meet a certain set of numbers in terms of community service,” Ruch said, “but then, as they go into their senior year they go on a Christian service trip. “Some of the groups go as far away as Peru, South Africa, over to Europe. New Orleans is probably the closest.
“We’re all about giving back and what we can do for our community and how we can help them. Currently, we have a group of kids 20 kids that are down in Houston, in Corpus Christi, working with people that have lost to floods, rebuilding homes and stuff. We have teachers that took off from their personal lives just to go down there because of our faith and what we believe. This is our way of helping, our way of our kids making that connection back to the communities.”
Ruch derives his greatest satisfaction as an educator when one of his former students returns to the Malvern Prep campus.
“It’s when I see an alum come back,” he said, “a kid that graduated come back and he’s talking about the memories he has and the memories that I was a part of and what this school has done for them and how they’ve developed. Those to me are the moments that you really can’t capture or those moments you wish you could.
“That’s why a family comes to a Malvern or a St. Joseph’s Prep or a LaSalle or a Holy Ghost. For we take that young boy, turn him into a man, and now that man is coming back and saying ‘Here’s my moment, here ‘s what I remember about this place. I want to give back. I want to help.’
That to me right now is what I cherish the most When I hire a coach, I’m looking for an alum.”
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