Our Youth

Let Them Speak: Being One of the First Girls at Xaverian HS, a Former All-Boys School

By Kene Nzelu

I wanted to attend a Catholic private high school because even though I’m not Catholic ­– I’m Protestant – both religions have many of the same beliefs. Also, I wanted to go to a private school that wasn’t too big for me to handle. Before I attended Xaverian High School in Bay Ridge, it was an all-boys school, but this school year, it became a co-ed school. I imagine this had been a huge adjustment for the boys who were already in my school, but us girls also had to adjust.

On the first day of classes, along with the regular first-day jitters, I was asking myself many questions.

I wondered, “How are the boys in my classes going to act? What will the upperclassmen say when they see girls in the hallways? Will the boys treat the girls respectfully? Will the boys be angry that they now have to share their school with girls?”

Even before my school became co-ed, it had a middle school called Genesis where students in grades six through eight would have their classes. Genesis was co-ed, so girls were seen in the hallway, but Genesis students and Xaverian students don’t really socialize with each other a lot, so it was still possible for the high school boys to still have to adapt to girls actually being in their high school.

Xaverian H.S. Chorus Members. (Photo courtesy of Kene Nzelu)

During my first day of classes, the boys were normal. Many of them attended co-ed middle schools, so they knew how to act around us. Many of the girls also attended co-ed middle schools, so we were used to boys in our classes. Except it seemed like the upperclassmen had a different reaction. Some girls said that upperclassmen told them that they shouldn’t be in Xaverian. Yet, many of these girls had brothers who are upperclassmen, so the boys who told them these things are, for the most part, joking with them. Regardless, sometimes the girls get tired of it, even if it is a joke.

My Positive Experience

I had a different experience on the other hand. The boys in my grade and the upperclassmen I knew were nice to me. Many of them were welcoming. Of course, some of them had to adjust their behavior because of certain things they shouldn’t do or say around girls, but many of them behaved well. They were respectful and we said “Hi” in the hallways. I know some of them from different school events like when I was in the school play or from the work I did within the Campus Ministry office to Chorus and even from the Xaverian Art and Literary Magazine Club.

So even though at first it was a big adjustment, I think the boys in my school are used to the girls and the girls are used to being students at Xaverian. Many of the girls do extracurricular activities and are very involved in the school. I’m realizing more and more that my school is one big family.

I like Xaverian.

Nzelu is a freshman at Xaverian H.S., Bay Ridge. She is part of the first class of female students accepted in the fall of 2016.