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Changing up tradition


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POSTED: Wednesday, July 29, 2009

When the all-girls St. Francis School in Manoa started letting boys in the door a few years ago, the students were too young to think of dating. But with the freshman class admitting 17 boys for the first time in its 85 years, expect the level of adolescent drama to become almost palpable.

“;Right now the boys have it made with a 3-to-1 ratio,”; said Sister Joan of Arc Souza, school director. (Actually, it's a 3.8-to-1 ratio, with 65 girls in the class.)

“;I think the girls are excited about it,”; she said. “;I've been watching their demeanor—their hair is combed more often, there's a little bit of makeup and I see a little bit of maturity I hadn't seen before.”;

The school's shift to coeducation came in phases.

Boys were first admitted to kindergarten in 2006, grade six in 2007 and grades seven and eight last year, Souza said. This year, grades three, four and five also went coed; grades 10, 11 and 12 are still all-girl. Enrollment jumped to 415 from 385.

New rules of decorum include “;no holding of hands or kissing,”; Souza said. The dress code now prohibits boys from growing their hair longer than their collars or on their faces; and half the bathrooms now have urinals.

“;Last year there were boys throwing footballs in the courtyard,”; said Souza. “;Things like that never happened before. Soon the girls were out there learning how to throw.”;

;[Preview]    St. Francis High School Welcomes First Co-ed Class
  ;[Preview]
 

After 85 years of being an all-girls school at the high school level, St. Francis School allows 17 young men into the freshman class.

Watch ]

 

The school also changed the nickname of its sports teams to the Saints because the Troubadours—meaning “;singing minstrels,”; got a lot of you've-gotta-be-kidding looks from the boys, she said. It also started the boys in junior varsity interscholastic sports this year.

Keoni-Ray Tom-Millare, who attended St. Francis last year, said being outnumbered by girls “;doesn't bother me.”;

“;We have more boys now, so we're not the only boys (in class) anymore,”; he said.

The ratio makes it easier to meet girls than at his former school, he said, adding, “;Here there's a lot of drama, like a girls school. A lot more gossip. We just ignore it.”;

Freshman Cierra Nascimento said there were only six boys in eighth grade last year.

“;They would help you with things. Like, they're not mean,”; she said.

But with more boys, she said, “;it feels weird,”; and now the girls have to whisper about private things like feminine-hygiene products.

“;Sometimes I think it's wrong—we were doing fine with an all-girls school—but mostly I think it's a good idea. The school is getting more money with more people. We're getting bigger because of the sports, which opens up the school more to the public,”; she said.

“;This year there are lots of girls crushing on boys. There's going to be drama. Rumors have started already that a couple of girls are going out with boys. ... Some girls are going to be too obsessed with boys, but they're just going to have to get over it,”; Nascimento said.

At the same time, she said, the boys already are pushing for changing the Winter Ball theme from “;Candyland”; to something less feminine, like “;Ice Palace,”; but she protested.

“;We ain't ice-skating in dresses!”; she said.