It is one thing to hear about something; it is another to actually experience it. So Xavier offers shadow experiences where middle school students can get a feel for what Xavier is all about.
Owen Lelko did a shadow day before he came to Xavier and now is one of the freshmen who regularly gets paired with a visitor. He remembers his shadow day well.
"I got to come in and see what school was like during the actual hours of the school day," Lelko said. "You're not just touring and talking to kids about the school.
"You're actually experiencing the school day."
So far this year more than 100 middle school students have spent the day here.
The "shadow" gets a tour of the building from a senior and is paired with a freshman that they know or with whom they have shared interests. The visitors attend classes, eat in the dining hall, meet coaches, club moderators, and teachers.
They start their day greeted by Administrative Assistant Lisa Keereweer, a veteran of 20 years in the building who can be seen at many student events throughout the year. She takes them to the "Falcons Nest," a comfortable room with a video screen displaying upcoming events, student accomplishments and the names of the shadows. There's even a candy machine, the kind in which you turn the knob.
So while they are visitors, the goal is to make the shadows feel like they've always been here.
Surveys filled out by these visitors routinely say how comfortable they have been made to feel. Said one 8th grader, circling the highest rating for his shadow partner: "Not only did he, but his classmates made me feel like I've been going to the school for months."
Another part of the brief survey of the experience asks the 8th grader to circle what describes his likelihood of attending Xavier. The options range from not interested to very interested, but one enterprising young man created his own category and circled it, writing in "definitely."
When shadows leave they also list lunch in the dining hall as a favorite time. Having some down time and conversation, to say nothing of few of the most popular items, chicken fingers and cookies.
Jacob Greco, another freshman who is a shadow host, said he really enjoys the role.
"I know I can impact someone's choice, hopefully positively," Greco said. "I want to show them that Xavier is such a great place. I introduce them to all the teachers and make sure they're having fun with their day and meeting a lot of people. And I make sure to integrate them into the conversation at lunch."
Freshman Bobby Bouvier, like Greco, said he tries to impact a decision that will impact the shadows going forward. He also spoke of how engaging and friendly the teachers are, some having the shadows participate in class.
CLASS IN SESSION
On a recent day we went to the Civics class taught by Brother Thomas Ryan, C.F.X., with Lelko and a shadow attending. So in a sense we also were a shadow. With a mix of a deep knowledge of the subject matter, a sense of humor and actively engaging the students by asking questions, the class was fast moving, fun and informative.
Brother Ryan was constantly engaging the students, asking questions. Talk about class participation. He must have asked more than 30 questions of the class in 40 minutes and answers from various students were readily forthcoming.
Who's more popular: the chicken fingers or Bro. Ryan. We wouldn't bet against Bro. Ryan.
WANT TO EXPERIENCE XAVIER FOR A DAYExperience Xavier as a "shadow" by going to https://www.xavierhighschool.org/admissions/shadow