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The student news site of De Smet Jesuit High School

The Mirror

The student news site of De Smet Jesuit High School

The Mirror

De Smet may soon expand its mission

De+Smet+Jesuit+is+exploring+the+idea+of+adding+an+academic+program+for+boys+in+grades+6%2C+7+and+8.+
Kevin Berns
De Smet Jesuit is exploring the idea of adding an academic program for boys in grades 6, 7 and 8.

De Smet Jesuit is exploring the idea of adding an academic program for boys in grades 6, 7, and 8. President Fr. Ronny O’Dwyer S.J. officially announced the plan on Monday. 

“It began 18 months ago when we started the strategic planning process with the question, ‘Where is God calling De Smet?’” Fr. O’Dwyer said. “We have a really good plan for the high school. Once we had that plan moving, concurrently we had ‘All Things New’ happening. It became clear that this might be an opportunity to explore a question that De Smet has looked at other times in its history.”

Their question was further explored over the summer when along with Special Assistant Kim Koenig, Fr. O’Dwyer met with Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski and Superintendent of Schools Dr. Todd Sweda.

“We asked their permission to do a feasibility study just to explore this possibility,” Fr. O’Dwyer said. “They said yes, and wanted the results by November.”

In order to examine this idea, De Smet Jesuit hired Meitler, a consulting company specializing in conducting surveys like this one.

My intention in doing it is not to create more confusion or noise, but to be helpful in the big project of Catholic education.”

— President Ronny O'Dwyer, S.J.

“We are hoping to get hundreds of responses that will help us to know what our target audience of parents think about it,”  Fr. O’Dwyer said. “The questions ask if parents would send them, when would they send them, what kind of programs they’d be looking for, and what would their family be able to pay.”

Along with the survey, Fr. O’Dwyer has also been talking with local parish pastors and prospective parents about this exploration. In these conversations, he referenced that the ages of 11-14 are critical to faith formation. 

“As young people are developing, and if we really want to be a leader in faith formation, we need to get them younger,” Fr. O’Dwyer said. “I’m trying to listen to all those voices, but also realize that we don’t act on our own and that we are a part of this Catholic school system.”

Several unknowns remain in the continued exploration including how it’s going to fit without building anything new. Principal Kevin Poelker would be in charge of implementing these new changes.

“We do have ideas on how we could do this and we are confident that we have the space to do it and to do it as a separate concept with minimal overlap between the programs,” Mr. Poelker said. “We’ve got a number of things that we’re going to be addressing in terms of reconfiguring campus to better serve the strategic plan for the high school going forward.”

The main concern that many have is how this new program may detract from the high school experience. Mr. Poelker welcomes this concern.

“We definitely have an eye on keeping the high school experience its own,” Mr. Poelker said. “There’ll be some interaction on the campus, but having separate experiences is still really important for all of our students, including our high school students.”

To ensure inclusion in the feasibility study, each family is asked to complete one survey no later than October 16.

“Everyone’s looking at what the landscape is going to be,” Fr. O’Dwyer said. “My intention in doing it is not to create more confusion or noise, but to be helpful in the big project of Catholic education.”

 

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  • A

    Alex KatigbakOct 4, 2023 at 10:42 pm

    De Smet left such a big impact on me and I would love for my son to be able to feel that impact even sooner than I did. This was explored when I was a student back in 2014 but unfortunately fell through. I would love to see this become a reality.

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  • P

    Pete MussoOct 4, 2023 at 5:13 pm

    What an awesome piece by a former Junior English scholar! Well written! Woot woot!

    Reply
  • G

    Graham LaBonteOct 4, 2023 at 10:31 am

    Great work, Koenig always impresses!

    Reply