Editor’s note: After decades as a fixture of Baton Rouge education, Redemptorist High School is closing its doors as this school year ends. Students in Carol Chatelain’s Redemptorist High creative writing class collaborated on this essay reflecting on the school closing. The students who worked together on the essay are Alexis Augustus, Margan Johnson, Brant Guerin, Jerrold Johnson, Maurisa Paton, Devyn Samson, Trent Myrick, Matthew Saia and Jeremy Gajan. Here are their thoughts:
When a school closes, its spirit remains behind. There are too many ghosts haunting this place for it ever to be truly quiet. The footsteps that resound throughout these halls and classrooms; the voices that have left their echoes in the student center, the library, the cafeteria and the pathways between; the grunts, cheers and band music that still vibrate throughout the stadium, the gym, the field; the spirits that have rocked this school for nearly 70 years will imbue this spot forever.
For decades, Redemptorist High School has been a part of this city. Thousands of its graduates have gone forth from these buildings, these grounds after having found their life’s calling during their time here, often after having found their soulmates within these walls. The excitement of suddenly realizing life’s direction, that does not die away. The gentle conversations and words of endearment that cross between couples having found new romance here, the budding loves and intimate friendships that lasted lifetimes, that permeates the grounds and the bricks and the mortar of this place. Long tradition, unbending pride … that is Redemptorist. We are Wolves first and foremost. We belong to a pack that spans generations. Our howl, our cry to our God will be heard by all who pass through this place.
The location of Redemptorist in North Baton Rouge, in close proximity to St. Gerard Catholic Church, in an aging neighborhood, in a part of the city that is in obvious decline has caused this campus to become a microcosm of safety and comfort in the midst of turmoil. In this part of the city, Redemptorist has been the one stable and secure factor. This neighborhood loves its Wolves. This campus is the peaceful center, the nucleus that binds this part of the city to something sacred, something holy, something real and something important.
At Redemptorist, the students are allowed to achieve to their own personal best. Throughout Baton Rouge, throughout the span of the country, Redemptorist graduates are lawyers, doctors, political leaders, journalists, performers, leaders of diversity throughout their communities. Wealthy, powerful and influential citizens can boast connection to and membership within the pack. Thousands of Redemptorist graduates have gone on from here to raise and support families, expanding the pack and instilling morals and values that were taught to them within these walls. Year after year, the aged of the pack still watch the news to hear of Redemptorist’s wins and losses on the playing fields or on the courts of competition. When our teams achieve, there are thousands who cheer with us from generations past, present and future. The competitive spirit of our teams does not end with graduation; the Wolf Pack connection holds us to this place.
The people of this school — students, faculty, staff and alumni — have a passionate love for the Redemptorist connection. Regardless of their paths, regardless of how far they wander, or how high they rise, or how powerful they become, they are always drawn back to the pack. The students who now roam this campus are friendly and happy and comfortable here. Redemptorist is not merely a school. Redemptorist is home.
The closing of the school it is logical. Based upon “projections” for the future decline of enrollment, the lack of funds and all of the other demographic and financial factors brought forth in the lovely diocesan PowerPoint presentation, keeping it open does seem illogical, perhaps even irresponsible at the present. However, some of the most seemingly impractical decisions often prove to be the most rewarding. Every institution that has spanned the test of time has gone through good times and bad; ups and downs are a part of our existence. “Man’s state on Earth, like the rim of a wheel, goes down and comes up again.” (Kalidasa) If given the chance, Redemptorist would have risen again to former glory. However, even though the school must close here and now, the Wolf Pack will not end. Wolves will prowl this space until the end of time.