Born in Detroit - Our decision to stay
On January 20, 2017, U of D Jesuit commemorated the 40th anniversary of both the decision to stay in Detroit and affirming our school’s educational priorities. On January 20, 1977, then-school President Fr. Douglas Keller, S.J. announced the decision to “remain in the present location” on West Seven Mile Road. In addition, he affirmed our educational priorities of faith, academic excellence, community service, as well as racial and socio-economic diversity of the student body. Our success today as a premier educational institution in Michigan is founded on the courage of this decision.
Many people have shared their testimonials, which we have posted below, to these questions. For alumni, faculty, and friends, what does it mean for you that U of D Jesuit remained in Detroit? For parents of graduates and current students, how did the school’s commitment to remain in Detroit affect your son’s educational and social experience?
Video Interviews with Alumni
Reflections on the Decision to Stay in Detroit
- James Fields '00
- William O'Brien '65 & Fr. Joseph Mulligan, SJ '61
- Fr. Michael Vincent, SJ '69
- James Cowper '77
- Thomas Page '67
- Paul Louisell '67
- Richard Healy '55
- Fr. Joseph Mueller, SJ '78
- William Craig '78
- Robert Howard '72
- Larry Fogliatti '61
- Jerome Chmielak '60
- George Wright '60
- Ralph Pierre '99
- James C. Hart '80
- Peter Gariepy '01
- Frank Brady '66
- Joseph Kozlo '66
- Tom Sullivan '61
- John E. Sullivan '61
- Don Carney '66
- Dave Ziskie '66
- Michael Porter '71
- Jerry Gass '71
- Christopher Kaffel '16
- Will Ross '72
- John Goll '66
- Bridget & Kevin Stolz, parents of Sean Stolz '19
- Karen & Srinivas Ross, parents of Jason '20 & Nicholas '22 Myneni (excerpted)
- Christina & Otis Holt, parents of Otis Holt '19
- Ellen Reid, mother of Ian Monkman '10
- LaTrice & Sean Perkins, parents of William Perkins '18
- Rachel & Scott Spiewak, parents of Andrew '18
James Fields '00
Thank you for the opportunity to write about what it means for me that U of D Jesuit decided to stay within Detroit.I love Detroit. I am from inner-city Detroit; I was born and raised there. Growing up in Detroit, which has always had a pre-dominant African American presence, it was very uncommon to encounter a white person outside of the four walls of U of D Jesuit High School & Academy. By U of D Jesuit staying with Detroit, it served as a “reverse mission” field experience for me. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines “mission” as being “a ministry commissioned by a religious organization to propagate its faith or carry on humanitarian work”. Thus, unlike a typical mission trip where you’re required to leave your context and go into a foreign context for the purpose of “mission work”, U of D Jesuit served as a context in which I was able to experience another culture without being forced to abandon my own cultural context.
Simply put, while other schools, like Brother Rice, Catholic Central, Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, continually called their students outside of their inner-city context, at U of D Jesuit I received the best of both worlds. By remaining within the city of Detroit, I was able to experience the academic rigor and benefits of going to a premier Jesuit education without leaving my own cultural context—what a true privilege and honor indeed!
By staying within Detroit, I able to know and befriend “white” students and teachers, alike. In all honesty, for many black students like myself, U of D Jesuit was a rare and unique experience—it was truly ahead of its time in regards to the current revitalization efforts within the city of Detroit. U of D Jesuit was one of the only places in Detroit, if not the only place, that provided a context and community that encouraged, empowered and enabled positive interaction among different people and/or cultures—for me, personally, it was a place for racial healing and restoration.
Due to U of D Jesuit’s decision to stay within the city limits, I was given the gift to collaborate with students and teachers who would not have a reason to enter into my immediate context, except to work at or attend U of D Jesuit. In a sense, U of D Jesuit served as a “bridge” for racial reconciliation. Hence, U of D has exposed me to a whole, new world—a whole, new perspective on how to view the world. Finally, if U of D Jesuit had left the city of Detroit, I would not be able to have the life that I have today. I currently work as a Ministry Fellow at Princeton University, as the only African American Ministry Fellow on campus. There are many days where I feel lonely; however, due to my unique experience at U of D Jesuit, God has prepared me to serve the students at Princeton University.
William O'Brien '65 & Fr. Joseph Mulligan, SJ '61
I am a UDHS Grad ('65), and the father of Nicholas (UDHS '05). Fr. Joseph Mulligan, SJ (UDHS '61) asked to be included in this reflection. He has been living and working in Nicaragua for the past 30 years with Christian Base Communities in the neighborhoods and with the disabled. I am a community organizer working with city and suburban clergy building the Detroit Regional Interfaith Voice for Equity (DRIVE).
Both Joe and I have been proud for 40 years that the Jesuits decided to keep UDHS in Detroit. We are inspired that the Jesuits' decision was based on their commitment to a city and its people suffering deeply during a crisis of flight and sprawl, and on their willingness to live out the values of diversity and inclusion in a region which unfortunately has been known for separation and exclusion. We also believe that the decision to stay in Detroit was a huge risk: would parents continue to send their sons to an excellent school committed to diversity and inclusion? Would African Americans, Latinos and others embrace UDHS for their sons?
We are forever grateful to the Jesuits for making the decision, and to all the men and women who labored not only for our children at 8400 S. Cambridge, but also for a better Detroit. We pray that the Lord will continue to inspire and strengthen the school community to form people for others, well equipped to work for social justice and peace.
Fr. Michael Vincent, SJ '69
I am an alumnus of the Class of 1969. I joined the Jesuits after my graduation from college, and -- before I was ordained in 1982 -- I had the privilege of serving my teaching "regency" (I. e., internship) as an instructor of Latin, German, and English for both the High School and Academy grades from 1976-1979. Since then I have taught in two of our Ohio Jesuit high schools and am now one of the associate pastors at Gesu Parish in University Heights, Ohio.
It was at the "Beginning of the Year" faculty meeting in August, 1976, that the prospect of moving the school to the suburbs was first discussed with the full faculty. It seemed a daunting prospect, and the reasons given were falling enrollment and pressure from banks to ease a depleted cash flow for the institution. The move also seemed to many to be the only solution to the problems facing the high school.
The Jesuits of the then Detroit Province decided that U. of D. Jesuit should remain in Detroit and make every possible effort to shore up enrollment and finances. For a brief time, even becoming a co-ed institution was examined. Finally, it took many years of hard work and sustained and determined leadership by Jesuits and their lay colleagues for U. of D. Jesuit to recover financially and eventually to stabilize its enrollment. Staying in Detroit was, at first, both a major commitment and a great risk.
But, with the help of God and the support of many alumni, parents, and friends, U. of D. Jesuit went through its own rebirth long before Detroit underwent bankruptcy. In a sense, the resilience of U. of D. Jesuit is a sign of hope that the City of Detroit itself can and will undergo its own rebirth and renewal, and Detroiters see hints of that almost every day. So, as a native Detroiter, for me, my alma mater is a great symbol of how Detroit itself will once again rise.
The last forty years have proven the wisdom of the commitment. "Ad Multos Annos" and "Ad Maiorem Dei Gloriam" to U. of D. Jesuit and to the City of Detroit.
James Cowper '77
Well, 1977 was my Senior year at U of D High. Our family moved to West Bloomfield at the end of my freshman year, I elected to stay at U of D. The site at Square Lake and Telegraph was a consideration, as I lived nearby it seemed to make little sense to me. U of D held such tradition, a majestic building and a sense of community. As classmates of the soon to be 100th graduating class, we could not make any sense of a departure from Detroit and our roots. When Fr. Keller announced the decision to remain in Detroit, the senior class, the faculty, the student body and the City of Detroit were relieved and pleased. Clearly the choice has proven fruitful and the future at 8400 S. Cambridge is very bright.
Thomas Page '67
I am most proud of the fact that our school remained in its namesake City while other schools didn't. If UD High had left Detroit, UD High would have left me, and frankly, I would have disavowed any loyalty to the school. When our City needed us most, UDHS stayed. And despite the many tough years, our City and our school are experiencing a resurgence, possibly without parallel in urban America. Our school instilled in me the importance of being a "Man for Others." Those words would ring hollow had our school abandoned our City.
I am a returned Detroiter, living in the heart of Detroit's New Center. A major factor in my relocation to Detroit after 25 years in Los Angeles (retired from the Los Angeles Police Department) was the commitment of UDHS to the people of the City of Detroit. I will be forever grateful to those who made the morally correct decision to stay in Detroit.
Paul Louisell '67
I remember when the school was considering leaving Detroit - as I recall, the alumni, parents and teachers were all for abandoning Detroit like De La Salle and Catholic Central. It made economic sense-our enrollment was down, our alums were sending their sons elsewhere, contributions were stagnant - something had to be done. So with everyone on board with moving "to the suburbs" what did the Jesuit Provincial decide? We're staying. To me, this decision reflects a spiritual rather than financial or pragmatic process.
God knows the Jesuits have urban high schools in many cities, but this was Detroit in the 70's - not San Francisco or New York or Chicago. I am proud of the decision made by the Jesuits back then - and look how that decision turned out. Enrollment up; alumni loyalty up; diversity among the student body up; number of counties and municipalities represented in the student body up; funding by alumni, parents, friends up. The Holy Spirit does amazing things when we listen. Thank God the Jesuits were listening back in 1977.
Richard Healy '55
It means we got Cassius Winston & had four great basketball years ending in a state championship in basketball. Cassius was the best high school basketball player I ever saw. When U of D Jesuit needed points, all the team had to do was give the ball to Cassius & he would score. In addition, all of his interviews after the games were first class.
Fr. Joseph Mueller, SJ '78
I was a junior at the High when the decision was announced to stay on Seven Mile. I remember being relieved because, coming from the western end of Livonia to school every day, before the Jeffries Freeway was completed, I was not anxious to see the 36-mile daily round trip extended by a move out to Troy, where rumor had it we had the possibility of acquiring land for a new campus. The decision was unpopular. As I recall, the alumni, students, teachers and staff, and the Jesuit community had all been polled about the decision, and I had heard that each of these groups had a majority in favor of the move out. Most of the teachers and an ever-increasing proportion of the students were suburbanites. It seemed in particular that almost all forty-or-so guys I knew from Gesu freshman year had moved out of the city by the time we graduated. Many of the alumni had already moved out of the city to suburbs. The enrollment was in free fall; my own class lost a very large number of its members from freshman to senior year, more than enough for a homeroom. We had started the Jesuit Academy a year before my arrival at the High in part to help reverse that trend. Later years showed that that decision did not keep the enrollment from sliding. The physical plant of the school was getting dog-eared as we had to defer more and more of the regular maintenance on a building that was already from another era.
So the general mood was sour when the decision came down, although the families of Far West-Siders like me and of city kids could be happy about it. Word was that the Superior General of the Jesuits himself, Fr. Pedro Arrupe, had made the decision, passed it on to the Provincial Superior of Detroit and Ohio, who had passed it on to Fr. Keller. Many people were angry that they had not been listened to. It was not until the team of President Fr. Mal Carron and Principal Fr. Dick Twohig came on deck, in the early 80’s, I think, that the enrollment situation of the school stabilized, thanks, too, to the hard work of my classmate Chris Woiwode, who turned out to be an effective and spirited recruiter for the school, as I discovered when I served there in 1984 as a Jesuit novice and in 1986-89 as a Jesuit scholastic. The confidence that the school could make it at Cherrylawn and South Cambridge came back in those years, through a lot of hard work and sacrifice by teachers, administrators, staff, parents, and students. Since those days, the fortunes of the school have been mostly on the upswing.
Through all of those years from the mid-seventies to the end of the eighties, Cub High stuck to its formula of a racial mix that sociological research—done, I had heard, by a Jesuit who had later served as principal while I was there, Leo Lackamp—had predicted could keep the school bi-racial in the volatile interracial environment of Metro Detroit. That decision kept going the fantastic opportunity into which the High had developed after the proportion of black students had started to climb in the 1960s. The interracial camaraderie at the High did a lot to humanize, and to Christianize, me in one of the most formative times of my life, as I discovered much about what life was like outside of a solidly white and suburban neighborhood and parish. I saw the same thing happen during my two stints as a teacher at the High in the 1980s. I doubt whether we could have maintained, in those years, the same quality of educational atmosphere on a campus outside the city.
Since the 1980s, Detroit has had to face challenges that even those disappointed by the city’s condition in 1989 would have had a hard time imagining. The Catholic population of the city has dwindled to such a point that only three Catholic high schools are left there: the High, Loyola High School, and Cristo Rey. These are three of the most important, and successful, private educational initiatives in Detroit and so are a major support to the city’s efforts to pull itself into a better future after the bankruptcy. Catholics and all people in the Metro Detroit area can be proud of what the Jesuits and all of those who have worked with them—parents, students, alumni, teachers, administrators, staff, the Archdiocese—have done to show what hope for a better city and for better fellowship between blacks and whites can do when it inspires hard decisions made against long odds. When that hope is animated by a faith in a Christ who rose from the dead, as it has largely been in this case, its strength can lead to results that surprise all the nay-sayers. I thank God for the decision to stay on Seven Mile, and I wish for many more happy birthdays to be celebrated there!
William Craig '78
Robert Howard '72
I grew up on the west side of Detroit, near Southfield and Schoolcraft; my family belonged to Our Lady Queen of Hope parish, where I went to grade school. But I never really felt like I got to know Detroit until the fall of 1968, when I began to make the trek up Southfield and across Outer Drive to 8400 South Cambridge. For me, U of D High represented the cosmopolitanism of the city. It was there that I moved beyond the relative provinciality of my local neighborhood and my tiny parochial school and parish, and began to meet people from all over the city and the surrounding suburbs.
My U of D friends and I had a love affair with Detroit. Whether we were from the city or the suburbs, we identified with Detroit, its spaces and places, its history, and its culture. And although the student population in those days was still pretty homogenous (read: largely white), we also identified with the values of integration, racial justice, and what, many years later, would come to be called “diversity”—the sometimes difficult but always dynamic interaction of races, cultures, and religions. Had we known that the faculty and alumni in the mid-1970s were considering the prospect of leaving Detroit to move to the suburbs, we would have been appalled by the idea—and strongly opposed it!
History has proven the wisdom of the Jesuits’ decision in 1977 to remain in the city. We alumni know that U of D Jesuit has always been a special place. But today, the school, as an institution in the city of Detroit, is even more special and singular. It is one of the few places where individuals from across the entire metropolitan area can meet, mingle, get to know, and learn from one another. What other school in the region can provide that educational option to parents and their children? In the crude language of marketing, the decision to stay in the city has enhanced U of D’s “brand” in the competition for the best students. But even more important, the school—and the alumni body—have benefited greatly from the perspectives, talents, and life experiences of U of D Jesuit’s now much broader and genuinely diverse student population.
Today, I live far from Detroit. But the fact that U of D Jesuit remains in the city is one of the major reasons why I continue to support the school, both financially and in spirit. “He not busy being born is busy dying,” Bob Dylan tells us. May U of D Jesuit continue to grow, to read and respond to the “signs of the times” of the rapidly changing world in which we live, and to contribute to the revival of the city that is its home.
Larry Fogliatti '61
I believe that it says a lot about the character of the school AND the character of its students. To not only stress excellence in book learning but also to stress learning in social justice, equality and being Men for the people is extremely admirable and also rare in this day and age. I’m proud to say that I attended The High.
Jerome Chmielak '60
George Wright '60
We (my wife Pam and I) believe the decision to remain on W. 7 Mile reconfirmed the U of D Jesuit mission of education and social justice. It has greatly benefited the neighborhood and the "men for others" the school educates. Three of the reasons we continue to support U of D Jesuit financially are the outstanding education it offers, its sign as a beacon of hope to the surrounding area, and the compass it gives to guide young men on how to live a life of service based on Gospel values.
Ralph Pierre '99
What does it mean to me that U of D Jesuit stayed in Detroit?
1. It means that my parents had a better option to provide me the opportunity to gain an education so that I could make my own future, as not too many safe and dependable schools were located close to where I was raised.
2. It means that #1 extends to other young and capable men, ready to prove their worth to the world, to the future, and to the city itself.
3. It means that the school has made a commitment to continue contributing to the city from which its namesake derives from, in addition to maintaining its historical identity of "Men for Others". You cannot have University of Detroit Jesuit High School without Detroit!
4. It means that it remains a symbol, a beacon of the richness that knowledge brings, no matter the environment around which this beacon resides.
5. It means that U of D Jesuit will be at the forefront of the renaissance of the city of Detroit and the Cub families will benefit from this in many ways.
James C. Hart '80
I was a freshman at U of D High (as we knew it back then) when, during the fall of 1976, there was much consternation about what was to become of us. The riots of 1967 and the steady decline of the city’s prospects in the early 1970’s contributed to a “fight or flight” mentality on the part of many who had a stake in the city of Detroit. In those days, however, the trouble was that many were taking the “flight” strategy—leaving the city in real trouble.
There were many conversations among students back then about what might happen, and about the consequences that would affect us all once a decision was made. Would we move to someplace like Redford (which Catholic Central was planning to do at the time)? Many of us thought that if this happened, we would turn into just another suburban high school, and that our unique urban identity would be fatally compromised. Would we become co-ed? This idea had its proponents among the students (for obvious reasons), but many also worried about the loss of identity that we would experience after being all-boys for (at that time) exactly 100 years. Finally, many wondered if the High would simply close, a victim (like so many others) of hard times in our city.
But, when Fr. Keller announced the decision in early 1977 that the High would stay right where it was, and that it would essentially “fight” to maintain its commitment to Detroit, I was elated. My fourteen-year-old mind may have been a little curious about the prospects that would have come with some of the changes that were being discussed, but the fact was that I was happy that the decision my family and I had made to attend the High (and to become a part of everything it stood for) was vindicated. With that decision, I knew that my prospects for a unique brand of Jesuit educational rigor as well as cultural diversity would be something of which I could be a part until my graduation—and beyond. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I also learned something about loyalty and perseverance during those challenging days. I learned that the best decision is sometimes one that is difficult in the short run, as well as something that is sure to test one’s patience and dedication—but that it also might hold the promise of achieving something truly great down the road.
Now, seeing the heights to which the High has soared over the last forty years, I look back on those days and give thanks for the wisdom of that decision, and I’m proud that I played a small part (merely by my presence there) in building a new foundation for our beloved school. In my current role as Director of Strategic Planning of an inner-city Catholic elementary school in Chicago, I know that I still bring a part of that experience to what I do every day.
Peter Gariepy '01
The "Detroit" that sits before Country Day, Catholic Central, or Pistons, always strikes a cord because of the numerous institutions who continue to use "Detroit" in their name, but not their address. To this day, I remain grateful that U of D has stood its ground south of Eight Mile and that my parents removed me from my comfort zone when they sent me to the Academy as a clueless twelve year old.
The density and history of major cities logically shape the culture and priorities of the metropolitan areas that surround them. Growing up in Metro Detroit, there remains no better school I could have attended. Now, fifteen years after leaving 8400 South Cambridge, I still occasionally wonder where I would be with out U of D. Well where would U of D be without Detroit? In hindsight, it is fortunate that neither the school nor I knows the answer.
Frank Brady '66
The message we received from our experience at the High was to be "good" men. While the "for others" thing may have come later, it was certainly embedded in the message. But at the High, the teachers, especially the Jesuits, did more than send the message. There was a very strong expectation on their part that we would actually achieve that goal. To this day, when I meet an old Jesuit who was there when I was, I sense a gentle probing. Based on the update on my life that I provide, he is anxious to know if I lived a life that reflects I was listening.
Joseph Kozlo '66
In 1977, when U of D Jesuit made the decision to remain in Detroit, it meant a continued commitment to the people and the City of Detroit that began a hundred years prior when the school was founded in 1877. It represented an enduring legacy of providing an outstanding faith-based education and a continuance of the mission to educate Men for Others. U of D Jesuit has developed a wonderful tradition, one that I am proud to be part of.
Tom Sullivan '61
While other Catholic High Schools were moving out of Detroit, I was very pleased that UDJ committed to stay even though the City was experiencing difficulties. Frankly, I was not at all surprised that the Jesuits made that decision. Standing firm in the face of difficult conditions is my perception of how the Jesuits have always operated and was one of the many significant life lessens I learned as a result of my years at UDJ. While it was not always a smooth path, UDJ forged ahead providing young men with an excellent educational and social environment rooted in Christian Values. I feel truly blessed to have been able to have the UDJ experience and I am certain that I share that feeling with so many others both before and after my time at The High!
John E. Sullivan '61
I have been extremely proud that U of D Jesuit has remained in Detroit as other Catholic schools either closed or perhaps “taken the easy way out “ and moved to the suburbs. I was born and raised in Royal Oak but had a terrific experience at U of D. Being exposed to fellow students from different races and socio economic backgrounds was a life changing experience. The Jesuit Community has my utmost respect for staying in Detroit and giving qualified young men a chance for a wonderful education. If Detroit is to rise again it will be because of schools like U of D High staying the course and educating men for others.
Don Carney '66
Dave Ziskie '66
Since I was born and raised in Hamtramck, I commuted several miles north to the school--among the few who did. I was and remain attached to the urban core of Detroit, not so much to the suburbs. If the High had moved out, my interest in it would have waned. Keeping the physical location is also important to people just for a reference point--to see what has changed as well as what hasn't. If the campus were in a totally different spot, it wouldn't have that much meaning to me from that perspective, either. I think a strong sense of place is important to people, and that's the case for the High and myself.
Michael Porter '71
I attended UDHS from 1967-71. That 4 year period was a time of momentous change in the city and especially for the neighborhood surrounding our campus. (Aside-- the school's minority enrollment was probably less than 3% in 1967).
Although the decision to remain on South Cambridge came six years after I graduated, it was very meaningful to me in that it signified our commitment participating and embracing the entirety of metro Detroit.
Staying in Detroit and truly becoming part of the city fabric has enriched the students' formation-- I believe that overall U of D Jesuit is a much better school today than it was during my time here.
Jerry Gass '71
It’s been my good fortune to have been able to remain a life-long (metro) Detroiter. My ’71 classmates and I remember growing up in an era of transition for Detroit, and we were wide-eyed Freshmen during the riots of ’67.
Attending U of D High solidified my pride in the philosophy of “Men for Others”, as we were all imbued with a sense of determination to stay in the City and make a difference.
I still count classmates from those four years as my best friends in life. Through softball teams, dinner groups, golf outings, and other events we have maintained close ties. What’s more, whenever I see a car with the U-D logo, it immediately assures me that there are many, many others that are just as proud as me that we are part of Detroit’s renaissance.
Christopher Kaffel '16
Will Ross '72
In 1964 while visiting an aunt at the University Of Detroit, I had the opportunity to witness the U of D High Homecoming Parade. It was at that moment I decided that was where I was going to high school. It was at a time that very few black students attended the central Catholic high schools in the Detroit area, but I was told that the school and the Jesuits had a progressive view about race. Four years later, I would walk through those hallowed doors as a freshman. At the time, the African American population at the school was about 3%, but as a student of color I found the school to be a very supportive and nurturing place. While there, I saw the school’s efforts to become more diverse and inclusive at a time when the city was undergoing racial strife and demographic changes.
When the school was deciding whether to stay or leave the city, most of my family had already moved out of Detroit. I could have understood if the school had decided to do the same, but they did not. I have never been more proud to be a Cub than when I learned that my school acted not in fear, but in courage to its commitment and principles. As I write this after celebrating MLK Day, I am reminded of his quote: “It is always the right time to do what is right.” If we are going to have a more just society each of us must have the courage to do what is right, in spite of the risk and the personal cost. In remaining in the city, my high school showed us how to follow the right path.
Although I have lived most of my life far away from Detroit and Michigan, I carry with me always the lessons I learned as a student and the examples set by the school. I am grateful that the U of D Jesuit High School and Academy decision to remain in the city reaffirmed the principles of social justice I was taught in high school and reinforced my commitment - my life commitment - to social justice. I hope my cousin’s grandson learns the same lessons as he spends his years at “The High.”
John Goll '66
Even though I have lived outside of Detroit since the early 70’s, I very much am grateful for that decision. I have used that decision as an example of staying true to your mission – it would have been much easier and profitable for UDHS to move to the suburbs. And perhaps avoided much angst in the UDHS community as it went through some rough years. But staying was “right and just”, in service to the Detroit community. (Detroit is ingrained in those of us who grew up within its borders.) With all the successes at UDHS the last few decades, and the witness of the Science and Engineering Center, UDHS stayed true to its mission – Men for Others and God in All Things. AMDG and peace.
Bridget & Kevin Stolz, parents of Sean Stolz '19
My son Sean is the youngest of five children and our only son. Our daughters other Catholic high schools in the area and we live in Troy. We think we've done a good job of raising all of our kids so that they don't have any sense of entitlement. Our oldest daughters (they're 28 and 26) went to a co-ed Catholic school in the northern suburbs and thought that many of their classmates had a sense of entitlement that negatively impacted the social environment there. Our younger daughters went to a different co-ed Catholic school which has a different economic demographic, so our younger daughters (19 and 21) didn't see a sense of entitlement.
My son, my wife, and I believe that the location of U of D Jesuit in Detroit goes a long way toward eliminating a sense of entitlement that the student body might otherwise have.
A couple of years before we enrolled our son--he's wanted to go to UDJHS since the 5th grade--I was talking to the dad of a then-recent alumnus. He touted the demographic diversity as being a "big strength". He said, "We have kids from over 50 cities. You have some whose dad could buy the school and others whose dad can't buy the uniform. And they mix well!" (By the way, he probably couldn't buy the school, but he'd be pretty close.)
His statement, along with the mission of "Men for Others", sold us on the school. It was a mission, not a slogan and I was told that by people whose sons struggled with it the mission early on, either in the Academy or in the high school.
You can get a great academic grounding at a lot of schools. You can only get "Men for Others" at U of D Jesuit. Being located in Detroit has a lot to do with that.
Oh, and my daughters, one and all, wear their U of D Jesuit "swag" proudly!
Karen & Srinivas Ross, parents of Jason '20 & Nicholas '22 Myneni (excerpted)
My boys are new at U of D, 7th and 9th grade. Being at U of D in Detroit is important to me for many reasons.
Detroit is such a diverse city. Watching its comeback and reinvention is marvelous to see. Showing my boys this diverse city is also marvelous. I went to Mercy College of Detroit, in the 80's, when the college was still on Fenkell and lived in the dorms. I went to U of D Law School on Jefferson.
The parent's history and memories of Detroit are important when making the decision of sending their children to U of D. Is U of D just a school? Or is it an experience? Detroit is an experience, full of wonder, knowledge, street smarts, some fear, and culture, and memories. To have the avenue to give my children this experience will broaden their minds and hearts and place this marvelous place in their active lives.
The families at U of D and their boys are from everywhere. They come from so many backgrounds: factory workers, doctors, other professionals, skilled trades, etc. Detroit is American to its core--many professional parents, many parents who desperately want better for their children.
The commitment of the parents sending their boys to U of D also makes a huge difference. There is not easy car pooling, so the parents pick, and drop, and arrange. The school is not down the street, or only a few miles away. It is out of most people's way and a long commute. The boys understand this commitment, and rise to its level of importance.
Because the school is such a commitment for the parent, the boys are different. Although every boy could go to U of D, most parents won't make that commitment. So the boys at U of D are special. They are smarter, more communicative, and overall--more knowledgeable about most things. Both my boys have told me that they have better discussions with their classmates and no "stupid talk." Although the boys may not be smarter than at their prior schools, they act smarter, talk smarter, and the conversations are more meaningful. My 9th grader says that "his classmates get him better." He is also pleased that his classmates are always eager to learn, participate in the lesson, group project, or lab, and discussion.
It is a good thing U of D remained in Detroit.
Christina & Otis Holt, parents of Otis Holt '19
My son is a sophomore and has attended U of D since the 7th grade. The decision to remain in the city of Detroit is a great one. After leaving a wonderful Quaker School in downtown Detroit, we wanted an educational institution that offered the same consciousness of social justice, academic excellence, extra curricular activities, value of service to others and convenience. For our son, we found all of the above at University of Detroit Jesuit High School and Academy. I believe that his level of consciousness for individuality has continued to grow and he is soaring academically. Although he needs a little encouragement in the area of service, the opportunities at U of D are plentiful.
Living only 9 blocks away from the school is best of all. He occasionally rides his bike to school and home from sports practice when the weather is nice. I believe that the decision to remain in the city of Detroit not only provides a great opportunity for young men in the metropolitan area but it providers an even greater one to those who live within the city limits. To know that there is such a place that has continued to thrive within the city of Detroit for 139 years and produces men who are known for their service to others is phenomenal.
Thank you for all that you do,
Ellen Reid, mother of Ian Monkman '10
The message to our sons that you stand by your mission to the community, spirituality, students, staff, families, academics first, and as a man (and person) for others in support of all humanity speaks volumes. My son, Ian Monkman '10, earned a great education and a lifetime of memories and friendships.
The High could only be The High on Seven Mile in Detroit. Bravo! Best decision Ever!
LaTrice & Sean Perkins, parents of William Perkins '18
It is important for U of D Jesuit to remain in Detroit for historical reasons - most of our boys do not visit the great city of Detroit other wise. I grew up in Detroit and I would always ride past U of D, proud of the boys I would see practicing sports on the front lawn. I would always say that my son would attend there. Detroit is such a great city and I love it with all of my heart. With three brother-in-laws having attended U of D, I knew I wanted my son to attend as well, creating my man for others. We have legacy at the school and I am sure my son will send his son to U of D Jesuit to a six year man as well.
Rachel & Scott Spiewak, parents of Andrew '18
U of D's commitment to remain in Detroit was a large part of our decision to send our son Andrew to U of D. I have three brothers who graduated from Catholic Central - one while the school was in Detroit and two within of few years of moving to Redford. Had Catholic Central remained in Redford, I would have considered it for our son.
The diversity of the student body is extremely important to us in addition to the Catholic, faith-based education. Staying in Detroit to be part of the support for a struggling city is also important to us. This commitment to Detroit is a real and a meaningful example of being Men for Others.
Thank you for your support of U of D High!