One of the more useless traditions of St. Louis is the age-old question, "where did you go to High School?". Dropping the pretense, it's code for determining your family's wealth. And it's also symptomatic of our highly parochial nature and private school tradition. Anyhow...with a child beginning 7th grade, we're in the middle of the whole "pre" high school, high school experience. Actually, it starts in the 6th grade...
Last nite, Bishop DuBourg High School held one of its "high school night" open houses. At these events, representatives from the area's many private Catholic High Schools send representatives to sell 6th, 7th, and 8th graders on their schools.
We attended three sessions: SLUH, Vianney, and DuBourg.
Lots of the SLUH kids are on a family track to attend SLUH. Their dad did, and his dad did, so it's expected junior will too. I've seen one kid turn physically ill dealing the pressure to make it into SLUH. Now I understand why. In addition to being the model child in terms of your overall "well-roundedness" and good grades, you have got to have really good grades to make it in. Get more than two final course grades of 84% or less on your report card throughout all of 6th, 7th, and 8th grades, and your application goes into the second review stack. More than three and you're in real tough shape.
Basically, unless he pulls nearly straight A's for all of 7th and 8th grade, our son, Matt is pretty much already ruled out from considering SLU High. And he's a good kid: excellent scores on the "Iowa" standardized tests, multi-sport athlete, musician, with lots of community service.
Vianney's message was pretty clear: we're a good school, and we're real good at SPORTS!
And DuBourg's message was similar: we're a good school, and we're CO-ED!
Where I grew up, we didn't face these sorts of decisions. Everyone went to the same public school. Given the poker game environment of choosing a private high school in St. Louis (things like "if you don't list us as your first choice, we will not grant you admission"), public school is starting to look like a lot better option more and more.