College Prep and Service to Others
Photo provided by St. Xavier High School
Men for Others. That’s the motto at St. Xavier High School.
And it seems to be a motto that actually means something to its graduating seniors.
That came through during recent exit interviews and focus groups school officials conduct with graduates, asking them to reflect on the impactful moments of their education.
“Almost every one of these guys talked about community service and the role it has played in their time here, the desire to give back and to serve others,” says Jeff Pugh, director of enrollment management. “It is rather remarkable. Before they talked about their academics and before they even talk about their friendships, many said one of the biggest things they’ve done here is either a mission trip or community service.”
St. Xavier has a full-time community service department and 85 percent of students are involved in some type of service activity. But such service work is voluntary, not a graduation requirement.
It’s rare that a high school sets as its core identity the notion of giving back to others. There is plenty of evidence that shows long after they graduate, a great number of St. X alumni are involved in nonprofits as staff members or volunteers.
Of course, St. Xavier is perhaps best known as one of the region’s outstanding college prep high schools, steeped in Jesuit values of caring for others, personal improvement and reflection and developing critical thinking skills. Nearly 100 percent of its graduates go on to college.
While St. Xavier has a solid success story to tell, school officials say they sometimes face some misconceptions about the school as they recruit and talk to families. “We find a lot of students self-select themselves out before giving us a look,” Pugh says.
“The perception can be, unless your son scores in the top five percent of high school placement tests, you can’t be successful here. In reality, that’s far from the truth,” says Mike Dehring, assistant principal for academics.
“Some of our greatest success is with kids who are in the lower part of our classes entering academically. It’s with many of those boys that we see the greatest growth. That occurs because we provide a rigorous education. We push kids to become their best selves in a whole lot of areas, especially in the classroom.”
School officials also say St. Xavier can be affordable for families who might think otherwise. “There is a cost, but for those families wavering, we have the financial means to help a whole lot of people,” Pugh says, noting 40 percent of the student body receives some sort of assistance totaling $4.3 million annually in financial aid.
And, yes, St. X remains true to its all-male educational legacy.
“I would argue it’s still a positive,” says Dehring. “It allows young men to be focused and motivated. Camaraderie occurs. It allows young men to be more sincerely who they are. They don’t have to put on a show to impress others that occurs in coeducational schools.”
Dehring believes that environment allows for an all-for-one, one-for-all mind set. “I found students support one another rather than compete against one another when it comes to academics. Our goal is to be open to growth – intellectually successful, religious, committed to justice and we want them to be loving. As a religious school, we can talk about the need to be loving in a variety of contexts. One of those is the relationship they have with one another. To be a truly loving person is to want success for that person.”
Pugh encourages prospective students to participate in the shadowing experience where an eighth-grade boy can spend a full day attending classes at St. Xavier. And he recommends prospective parents circle November 11, the school’s annual open house.
“It’s a great school,” adds Dehring. “What we do in terms of forming young men is unique in the Greater Cincinnati area. We are proud of that and we do a remarkable job in helping young men become their fullest selves.”
Quick Facts about St. Xavier High School
- St. Xavier is the Jesuit college preparatory school in Cincinnati, part of a network of 59 Jesuit high schools across the country.
- With 1,535 male students, St. X, located in Finneytown, is the largest private school in Ohio, the oldest high school in Cincinnati dating to 1831 and one of the oldest in the nation.
- This fall’s incoming freshman class of 385 students comes from 90 different grade schools in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana, representing every type of socioeconomic, religious and academic background. 30 percent of these students come from public schools.
- The St. X Mission: To assist young men in their formation as leaders and ‘Men for Others’ through rigorous college preparation in the Jesuit tradition.
St. Xavier High School is located at 600 W North Bend Road, Cincinnati, OH 45224. For more information, please call 513.761.7600 or visit www.stxavier.org.