In the 1920s, Bishop Hugh Charles Boyle of the Diocese of Pittsburgh started a program to expand diocesan involvement in education beyond the existing parish schools founded by the predominantly Catholic immigrant population of the city. Boyle invited the Brothers of the Christian Schools (more commonly known as the Christian Brothers) to found an all-male secondary school in Oakland, the academic district of Pittsburgh. The first freshman class entered in 1927, and Central Catholic's success allowed Boyle to expand on the diocesan network of boys' schools with North Catholic, Serra Catholic, and South Hills Catholic High School.
Although the school originally took students only from the central neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, the decline of regional equivalents such as North Catholic and South Catholic, following both schools' gradual switch to coeducation, eventually attracted students from a wider geographic and socioeconomic range. Students attend from neighborhoods including Bloomfield and Squirrel Hill, to suburban communities such as Cranberry, Jefferson Hills, and Fox Chapel. The diocese also opened a sister school, Oakland Catholic, also in the Oakland area.
Central Catholic's academic courses are divided into five levels:Regular (Level 1; 4.0 scale),
Intermediate (Level 2; 4.4 scale),
Advanced (Level 3; 4.8 scale),
Honors (Level 4; 5.4 scale),
Advanced Placement (Level 5; 6.0 scale).
Class rank is based upon GPA weighted for level. Because the different academic levels are weighted differently, the weighted GPA is based upon a 6.0 rather than 5.0 scale. Freshmen are placed into levels within the six departments of (English, mathematics, social studies, science, foreign language, catechetics) based on elementary school grades and a standardized test given by the school itself. The languages offered are French, Italian, Latin and Spanish. Freshman may opt to take an additional music or visual arts course, or gym.
Upperclassmen have more flexibility in course and department selection. The school offers 16 Advanced Placement courses and over 30 honors courses.
The Baginski Scholars Program is a progressive, interdisciplinary program, designed to let students at the school who excel academically to participate in activities and discussion meant to build their knowledge in social sciences, humanities, and the sciences. The program is directed by John Allen and Dr. Patrizia Costa Frezza.
In the 2013–2014 school year, two pilot engineering classes were introduced, and the school planned to construct a new building for STEM subjects.
Beginning in the 2013–2014 school year, a one to one computing program was initiated at the high school. Apple iPads were deployed to all freshman and sophomores.
The school has an athletic history that includes championships for track and field, soccer, swimming, rowing, and football. Other varsity sports offered are basketball, baseball, rugby, tennis, lacrosse, bowling, ice hockey, in-line hockey, golf, cross country, wrestling, and volleyball. Fencing, table tennis, Ultimate frisbee, and disc golf are offered as club sports.
The school has forensics team, musical theater productions (which have won seven Gene Kelly Awards), PJAS participation, student publications, chess team, and robotics team.
The school's mascot is the Viking. It had a long-standing rivalry with North Catholic High School until enrollment declined at North Catholic, and competition grew increasingly one-sided in favor of Central Catholic. North Allegheny , Pine Richland High School and Woodland Hills have come to replace North Catholic as Central's major rivals in sports, and Shady Side Academy in academics.
Built in the 1920s in the National Romantic style, the school building is designated a Pittsburgh History and Landmarks Foundation Historic Landmark. The building has undergone renovations to the classrooms, the dining hall, the library, the theater, the writing center, and other areas. Renovation of the classrooms included adding flat screen televisions, Smart Boards, and other learning technology devices.
On the same campus as the main building, there is a gymnasium building, an athletic field, and a weight training room. Next to the main building, on the Neville Street side, is located the Brothers' House, in which the Brothers of the Christian Schools who work at Central Catholic live.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held on December 3, 2014 for the new building for STEM subjects. Construction of this building accounted for $12 million out of a $27 million capital campaign that Central Catholic launched on the same day as the groundbreaking ceremony. The building opened in the fall of 2016 to students for academic use.Tim Grgurich born June 10, 1942, basketball coach at the University of Pittsburgh and UNLV
John Babinecz – football player drafted 2nd in 1972 by the Dallas Cowboys.
Marc Bulger – NFL quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens and former starting Quarterback, St. Louis Rams
Jeff Dugan – football player for the Minnesota Vikings
Justin Kurpeikis- American football player who has played for four NFL teams
Tony LaCava – baseball player and executive
Dan Marino – Pro Football Hall of Fame Quarterback, Miami Dolphins
Sam McDowell – known as "Sudden Sam", Major League Baseball pitcher, primarily Cleveland Indians, six-time American League All-Star
George Patterson – basketball player
Sal Sunseri – former All-American linebacker for the University of Pittsburgh Panthers, and currently the outside linebackers and defensive ends coach for the Florida State University Seminoles
Jack Twyman – Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame guard/forward, Rochester/Cincinnati Royals
Ed Vereb – former American football halfback in the National Football League for the Washington Redskins
Stefen Wisniewski – Center for the Oakland Raiders
John F. "Jack" Donahue – Founder and Chairman of Federated Investors, Inc.
James Sinegal - Co-Founder and CEO of Costco
Regis Cordic – radio personality
Bill Deasy – singer/songwriter
Frank DiLeo – music executive and actor
Tom Savini – special effect and makeup expert
Zachary Quinto – Emmy nominated actor and director
Liam Bonner – baritone opera singer
John Tierney – science columnist for the New York Times
August Wilson – playwright (did not graduate)
Robert Lee "Rob" Penny – playwright and poet
Bill Hillgrove – American sports journalist, radio personality, and sports broadcaster.
Joseph Bathanti – Poet Laureate of North Carolina, author, and professor
Lewis C. Merletti – director of the United States Secret Service
William Coyne – US congressman
Ralph Pampena – Pittsburgh Police Chief 1987–1990
Rich Fitzgerald – Allegheny County Executive
Henry J. McAnulty – president of Duquesne University (1959–1980)
L. Timothy Ryan – President of The Culinary Institute of America
In 2013, the Central Catholic Rowing Team won its first gold medal at SRAA nationals, defeating their rivals, St. Joseph's Prep. On July 23, 2013, a proclamation was made by the city of Pittsburgh declaring that day, July 23, 2013, Central Catholic Crew Day in honor of the win by the crew.
In 2013, Central Catholic's undefeated football team defeated Woodland Hills High School, defeating them 27-7 in the WPIAL Quad A championship.
In 2014, Central Catholic's second varsity (2V) crew won its first gold medal. In the last stretch of the race, Central Catholic's boat advanced a marginal length on Gonzaga College High School's 2V, leaving Winter Park High School in third place. Additionally, the first varsity (1V) and the first freshman (1F) boats received bronze and silver medals, respectively.
In 2015, Central Catholic's undefeated club Ultimate Frisbee team won the Division II PHUL championships, defeating their rivals from Bethel Park.
In 2016, Central Catholic's football team won the first ever 6A WPIAL Championship. They lost the first ever 6A PIAA Championship to St. Joseph's Prep. List of PIAA football state champions