This piece was published in the October 2015 issue of the Prep News
With twenty five percent of freshmen self identifying as racially diverse, the Class of 2019 is the most wide ranging cultural group in Rockhurst High School history.
This is up five percent from last year’s freshman class and approximately eight percent higher than the school as a whole during the 2014-2015 school year. The entire school’s percentage of students who identify as racially diverse is just above eighteen percent. With some identifying as African American, multiracial, Hispanic, or Asian, the freshman class is about seven percent above the rest of the school in these areas.
For some this may just be a number, but for Mr. Greg Harkness, Rockhurst High School Principal, it represents something bigger about Rockhurst’s culture as a whole.
“As an educator, particularly as a Jesuit educator, I can tell you that I feel our school is all the better and richer for diversity,” said Mr. Harkness. “Our world is very diverse. It’s a good thing for us.”
While the Rockhurst administration sees the Class of 2019’s diversity as a step in right direction, they still see room for growth, as the school is still predominantly white. During the 2014-2015 school year, Rockhurst had nearly 700 more caucasian students than minority students. This year, Rockhurst has 634 more caucasian students than minority students.
“It’s certainly a place where we can grow,” Mr. Harkness said. “In a perfect world, all of our schools would represent the entire metropolitan area.”
As more students become open to identifying as multiracial, more minorities are seeing Rockhurst as a viable option for high school. Mr. Harkness spoke highly of the effect that students sharing good Rockhurst experiences with other possible incoming students has on the school’s admission numbers.
“There’s a more comfortable sense in our students to identify as multicultural, whereas ten or fifteen years ago, they would not have identified that way,” said Mr. Harkness. “More students who might identify as a racial minority are looking at Rockhurst as an option, and that’s a good thing. It shows that kids who have had great experiences are going back and telling their story, and that’s encouraging more students to come.” According to Mr. Harkness, the diversity of Rockhurst is adding to the overall experience of the school and making the community stronger.
“We work very, very hard to create a community where everybody is going to feel welcome,” said Mr. Harkness. “Of all the things we do, our academics, our athletics, all of those are great, but nothing is more important than our students feeling comfortable. Any young man is welcome to come through our doors.”