St. Mary’s High nears plan to avoid closure as its football team chases state championship

In September, the Archdiocese of St. Louis introduced it will shut St. Mary’s and Rosati-Cain excessive colleges on the finish of the varsity yr as a part of the downsizing plan for Catholic parishes and colleges. Video by Robert Cohen, Post-Dispatch

Robert Cohen


ST. LOUIS — The St. Mary’s Dragons hope to carry the varsity’s future together with the football throughout the purpose line within the state championship recreation Friday.

In September, the Archdiocese of St. Louis introduced it will shut St. Mary’s and Rosati-Cain excessive colleges on the finish of the varsity yr as a part of the downsizing plan for Catholic parishes and colleges.

School leaders and alumni vowed to keep open by elevating donations and recruiting new college students. Mike England, president of St. Mary’s, mentioned the varsity has raised $3 million and is finalizing a lease of the campus from the archdiocese and a sponsorship settlement with the Marianists.

A “very massive announcement” concerning the faculty’s future is deliberate for Wednesday, England mentioned.

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St. Mary’s High School college students and football gamers rush onto the ground as they get pumped up throughout a pep rally ship off for the varsity’s football team on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022.


David Carson, Post-Dispatch


“We have faith. We have expectations,” England mentioned at a pep rally Thursday within the faculty’s fitness center earlier than the team boarded buses to the University of Missouri-Columbia.

The Dragons will play St. Dominic of O’Fallon, Missouri, one other archdiocesan highschool, for the Class 4 state championship at 11 am at Faurot Field. St. Mary’s beat St. Dominic 49-10 when the groups met in September.

At the rally, England launched every participant as they ran by means of bursts of flames with AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” blaring by means of the loudspeakers. He pointed to the house subsequent to final yr’s Class 3 state championship banner.







St.  Mary's High School pep rally send off for football team

Mike England, president of St. Mary’s High School, knocks down a door as he provides an inspirational speech to the scholars throughout a pep rally ship off for the varsity’s football team on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022.


David Carson, Post-Disptach


“It’s a enterprise journey,” England mentioned. “Because you’ve got obtained work to do! You’ve gotta do the work so you will get one other pennant!”

England ended the rally by kicking down a door arrange on the fitness center ground, incomes raucous cheers from college students, employees and fogeys of the football gamers.

“I like St. Mary’s. This faculty is a necessity in the neighborhood,” mentioned Rhelda Allen, whose son Chase Hendricks is a senior large receiver. “We are staying optimistic and prayerful.”

St. Mary’s has anchored the Dutchtown neighborhood on south Grand Boulevard since opening as South Side Catholic High in 1931. Notable alumni embody auto vendor Frank Bommarito and former Mayor Francis Slay.

Tuition on the all-boys faculty is $11,000, and 90% of scholars obtain monetary assist. Enrollment dropped to 222 college students this fall, down practically 20% from final yr.

Rosati-Cain within the Central West End has additionally misplaced enrollment, falling below 200 women this yr. The RK Forever marketing campaign has collected $500,000 in pledges in the direction of the proposed Rosati-Kain Academy, in accordance to an e mail Monday to supporters.

The two St. Louis excessive colleges had been the primary casualties of the archdiocese’s “All Things New” reorganization plan, which is predicted to lead to the closure of dozens of parishes and colleges after plans are introduced subsequent spring.

Catholic leaders are in “productive” talks with St. Mary’s and Rosati-Kain about persevering with to function independently, in accordance to Todd Sweda, the archdiocese’s superintendent for secondary training.

Supporters would possibly look to St. Bernard’s High School in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, for inspiration. The century-old Catholic faculty was slated for closure by its diocese after enrollment dipped under 100.

Now in its third yr after turning unbiased, the varsity has doubled enrollment and raised practically $3 million. One secret is decreasing expectations from the heyday of Catholic training within the Nineteen Forties to Nineteen Sixties, when colleges had been bursting with generations of huge households, mentioned Linda Anderson, the varsity’s principal.

St. Mary’s and Rosati-Cain, like St. Bernard’s, have every gotten extra various as their communities grew smaller.

“The mission of Catholic colleges was not to educate 1,000 rich upper-class white college students,” Anderson mentioned. “It’s educating the folks of our neighborhood, reaching everybody no matter socioeconomic want. We have this want to serve kids. What may very well be extra in step with the mission of the church?”

In 2019, St. Bernard’s gained the Massachusetts state football championship quickly after church leaders mentioned the varsity could be closed. The faculty will once more play for the championship on Friday afternoon at Gillette Stadium exterior Boston.

By then, St. Mary’s football team may already be the 2022 Missouri state champions. A call on the destiny of their faculty will take a bit longer.

Robert Cohen of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.







St.  Mary's High School pep rally send off for football team

Police give the St. Mary’s High School football team an escort onto the freeway after the varsity gave the team a pep rally ship off on Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022.


David Carson, Post-Dispatch


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St.  Mary's High School pep rally send off for football team

St. Mary’s High School football gamers are launched with flames, smoke and lasers throughout a pep rally ship off for the team Thursday, Dec. 1, 2022. Mary’s football team will probably be taking part in St. Dominic within the Class 4 state championship recreation at 11 am Friday at Faurot Field on the campus of the University of Missouri.


David Carson, Post-Disaptch


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