Rosati-Kain High School Should Stay Open, Leave Archdiocese

One alumna argues for her school to leave the Archdiocese and operate independently

click to enlarge Rosati-Kain High School
Rosati-Kain High School

Think back to the most awkward time in your life. You know, that time when you are old enough to know generally how the world operates but are still trying to figure out how you fit into all of it. Old enough to have many parts of your personality fleshed out, but some of it remains under construction. Old enough to know what your values are, but too young to vote. That’s right, I’m talking about high school.

High school represents a daunting stage in life for many, and it was no different for me. I exhibited ALL of the teenage angst — the bad attitude, the lack of focus on education, dabbling with weed and alcohol, and yes, as unfortunate as it is to admit, I was also a cliché who rocked heavy eyeliner and a studded belt. Most of my first two years of high school were spent “scheduled,” which is a version of in-school suspension, which I usually got for talking in class, go figure. My senior superlative was literally “most likely to get kicked out of the library” (guilty as charged). Needless to say, those who haven’t seen me since high school are shocked when they find out that I went on to get a PhD and am now a tenure-track faculty member at a major R1 university. Can’t say I blame them.

However, I believe that where I spent those formative years in limbo between adulthood and childhood had a major impact on my overall sense of self and shaped me into who I am today. I went to Rosati-Kain High School, an all-girls Catholic school in the Central West End.

While single sex schools aren’t everyone’s bag, I found that being surrounded by other young women was just what I needed in those angsty teen years. I didn’t have to worry about looking stupid in front of boys I liked if I answered a question in class and was wrong, I felt comfortable letting my weird flag wave proudly, and I wasn’t very concerned about my appearance — hell, I hardly showered.

At Rosati, young women were encouraged to openly demonstrate their intelligence, embrace their creativity, and raise their voice. My experience at Rosati instilled an unshakeable confidence in me that has helped me overcome many challenges in my personal and professional life over the last 15 years. What’s more is that I wasn’t the only one embracing my true self and coming into my own, most of my peers were as well. I’m blessed to have several Rosati-Kain alums in my life – each of them uniquely talented and amazing.

Given all that Rosati means to me and its other students — current and former — I am pained to learn that the Archdiocese has elected to close the school. I’m sure if you asked anyone in Archdiocese leadership why this decision was made, they will tell you that the enrollment numbers are too low. To that I say that the looming threat of closure has deterred many students who would have liked to come to Rosati lest they join and have to switch schools midway through.

Is the value proposition of Rosati really no longer there, or are you inadvertently causing the decline with your wavering support for this 100+ year old institution? Also, did you really have to wait to make this announcement until a mere TWO DAYS before fall 2023 registration?? It also pains me that the Archdiocese has elected to close one of the most diverse all-girl schools in the St. Louis metro area. According to Rosati’s website, over 35 percent of current students come from diverse backgrounds. Further, Rosati remains one of only a few schools in the Archdiocese that resides within the City of St. Louis, and not the larger metropolitan area, an important quality in a metro area that struggles with divisions in race and equity that seem to fall along urban and suburban boundaries.

  The plan, I’ve heard, is to have current Rosati students enroll at Bishop DuBourg High School starting in fall 2023. I know about a dozen people who attended DuBourg. It’s a perfectly fine place to attend high school. But it doesn’t offer the same quality of education that Rosati does.

 According to Niche.com, Rosati is ranked the No. 12 best Catholic high school in Missouri (compared to No. 32 out of 37 for DuBourg), students have an average ACT score of 26 (compared to 23 at DuBourg), and has a 10:1 student-teacher ratio (compared to DuBourg’s 12:1). By those metrics it would appear that the decision has been made to send female students, many of whom come from diverse backgrounds, to a high school with objectively lower learning outcomes. This decision particularly concerns me in light of the current sociopolitical climate we’re in with increasing restriction of women’s rights and burgeoning intolerance for diversity.

Rather than send current RK students to DuBourg, I propose that Rosati keep its traditions and values, but operate independently of the Archdiocese. Many private schools in the St. Louis metro area have demonstrated that this is wholly possible. To my understanding, between tuition and financial support from donors, Rosati has actually been financially independent for years anyway. Therefore, my message to current students, faculty, and staff is simple — your alumni are here and we support you. Let us know how we can help you keep Rosati-Kain High School open so that it can serve the next 100 years of young women. Let’s not go down without a fight.

At the RFT, we welcome well-reasoned essays on topics of local interest. Contact [email protected] if you've got something to say.

About The Author

Bitty Balducci

Bitty Balducci, PhD, is a born and raised St. Louisan and Rosati-Kain High School alum (Class of 2007).
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