Opened in time for commencement exercises in June 1928, Bertram Hall has since served as the focal center for the high school. The three-story Spanish mission revival structure is named for Brother Bertram Gabriel Bellinghausen, one of the pioneer group of eight Marianists to arrive in Hawai‘i in 1883, and first president of St. Louis College. Currently housing the religion, mathematics, language arts, social science, counseling and JROTC programs, as well as library and administrative offices, Bertram Hall is also undergoing extensive structural update. Increased learning spaces will be complemented by upgraded technology and communication infrastructure.
Kanalui Crusader Paddling team in competition
Among the multitude of Hawaii’s private schools, how do you choose the best school for your child? It’s a difficult decision, especially with a large number of new graduates who are highly accomplished, yet find it difficult to align themselves in their desired career. In a vastly changing society parents need to make highly informed decisions for their child’s future.
It is no longer simply about the three Rs — reading, writing and arithmetic — it is also about educating with a purpose. It’s one of the many changes you’ll see in Hawaii’s third oldest and only school for young men. Established in 1846, Saint Louis School is currently the only single gender school in the state for boys. With grades
6 – 12, Saint Louis School has implemented innovative teaching and technology needed to advance students into the 21st Century, while maintaining the traditional Catholic values that have served the school for 168 years.
The school has adopted Common Core Standards, intensified STEM programs, cultivates cultural learning and continues to nurture spiritual growth, all toward developing character and a well-rounded young man. The school has incorporated collaboration and problem solving by replacing individual desks with modular tables, and technology through its 1 to 1 laptop program and usage of Smartboards. With all these changes, Saint Louis’ Director of Admissions, Russell Valente, a 26 year employee and proud Saint Louis alumnus, will attest that Saint Louis School has continued to evolve with the ever changing advancements in education, but has held on to the core of what makes Saint Louis School special; the ability to transform boys into men. “For me, my experience at Saint Louis was very special. I had coaches and teachers that were motivated and made learning fun. I had no doubt that I would come back one day to positively influence the lives of our young men.” Valente is not alone, “approximately 30 percent of our faculty and staff are graduates of the school.
We all believe in the school’s mission and want to give back to a school that has given us so much.” add Valente.
The success of the school as well as its students can be attributed to Saint Louis’ focus on how boys learn best. The school has incorporated the latest research to support and help prepare their students for college. Findings, for example, show that boys are task-focused and need more attention in reading than in math when compared to girls (Gurian
2005). This can help teachers tailor curriculum to offer optimum conditions for student development and personal growth. It’s one of the reasons why Valente is passionate about the significance of a single-gender education. “When you have boys and girls in the same classroom, you basically have two different learning styles, but each develop differently” he says. “When boys and girls are separated, the educational method specializes to the needs of each gender.” It’s a benefit that leads to fewer distractions, a comfortable learning environment and more productivity. Saint Louis School, although well known for its athletic accomplishments, also have equally performed in its co-curricular and academic programs such as an award-winning JROTC program, Civil Engineering Champions –
2014, three time Math League Champions, and two time Malia Craver Hula Competition Champions. This year’s graduating class also received more than 3 million dollars in college scholarships, and over the last 10 years between 9699 percent of graduates have gone on to college.
Those are clear achievements, but what’s also impressive is the school’s focus on shaping their students into becoming a Saint Louis Man (someone well-balanced, respectful, nurturing, hard working, accepting and living by the Golden Rule).
It’s about providing positive examples and rich, diverse experiences. One aspect of this is teaching students the importance of giving back to the larger community. This is shown by its required Service Learning Program. Each student is required to devote a minimum of service learning hours to the community.
Saint Louis also believes in diversity education through its various clubs and activities. This offers opportunities for social interaction, the natural bond, brotherhood and comraderie Valente speaks fondly of. “The thing that people are most amazed with is the bond and relationships amongst each other that we call brotherhood.” he says.
With the vast numbers of independent schools Hawaii has to offer, each are outstanding in their own way, it may be difficult to choose which is best for your child. But for Valente, the choice is simple. Saint Louis School was the best for him and his son, Sean Valente, a 2010 graduate. When a sixth grader asked him during an admissions interview, “What makes Saint Louis different from any other school?” Valente responded,
“You can get an education at any school — learn English, Science, play sports, join clubs — but at Saint Louis, what we care about most is your well-being and your development as a person.” This is reflected in their admissions process. The faculty members look for good grades, test scores and teacher recommendations like most private schools, but Valente says they are also searching for “students who embody the many characteristics of a Saint Louis Man”.
At the heart of it, they’re looking for someone who is a good fit for their school. This could mean a student who has potential, and could benefit from the support, opportunities and environment that Saint Louis School once gave Valente. He says, “We offer challenging classes and opportunities to compete, but what we want and care about most is that our young men become good fathers, good husbands, good leaders, just good people. We also want them to have the confidence that if they want to change the world, they can become the men who do.”