History of Diversity & Inclusion at De Smet Jesuit, 1970-2021
Faith That Does Justice
For De Smet Jesuit’s first 30 years, African-American students represented between 1 and 3 percent of the student body. However, the new millennium brought significant changes to student population demographics. The Class of 2021 includes the highest percentage of African-American students, at 14 percent. For subsequent classes, African-American students represent roughly 12 percent of the student population.
First Black Graduates
John O’Guin, III
Arthur James, III
(Inset color photo) Black Student Union homeroom, 2019.
First Black Faculty
- Dan Lester (above, left): 2012-2015, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Assistant Football Coach
- Armando Gilkes: 2014-2016, JV Assistant Football Coach, Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Math Teacher
- Collin Miller: 2016-Present, Guidance Counselor Director of Counseling
- Robert Steeples: 2016-2021, Head Varsity Football Coach, Assistant Track and Field Coach, PE teacher Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator
- Dr. Aedryan Cox: 2017-Present, Head Wrestling Coach, Anatomy Teacher
First Hispanic Students
Hispanic students comprise the second largest racial minority group at group at our school. Enrollment of Hispanics was actively sought out through a partnership with St. Cecilia’s Catholic School in 2008 and has remained between 1 and 5 percent.
- Manuel Osorio ’20 (center inset photo)
- Gael Cosgaya ’21 (outer inset photo, left), Nick Tarnowski ’21 (right)
(Below) Football players celebrate their 2019 state championship with Coach Robert Steeples ’08
A World of Difference
Prior to naming a Director of Diversity & Inclusion and creating an office, De Smet Senior Leaders were involved in advancing this work at our school by completing training through the Anti-Defamation League’s “A World of Difference Program.” Theology teachers Dick Donohue (right) and Frank Olmstead (upper left) led this effort for many years.
Office of Diversity & Inclusion
The Office of Diversity and Inclusion at De Smet Jesuit was formally created in 1994 by Dick Donohue, who served as a part-time coordinator until one year after his retirement in 2011.
- Focus on the importance of committing to social & racial justice
- Founded Multicultural Appreciation Club
- Formed partnerships with Most Holy Trinity School, St. Louis Catholic Academy, Central Catholic School, and St. Cecilia’s School to successfully recruit black and Hispanic students
(Center) Senior Leaders, 2000
(Below) Junior Nick Curry paints a sun on the face of a child during a MAC service event at St. Matthew’s Parish, 2012.
Dan Lester (above) served as Director of Diversity and Inclusion part-time from 2012-2015.
- Mix-it-up lunches
- Courageous Conversations
- Grew Multicultural Appreciation Club
Armando Gilkes (above right) served in this role part-time from 2015-2016.
- Professional development for faculty and staff
- Provided additional support during Ferguson crisis
- Liaison between students, parents and administrators
(Center left) Multicultural Awareness Club (MAC), 2014
(Center) Anti-racism workshop with Matthew Kincaid, 2018
(Below) BSU/DAAP Fall Family Social, 2019
How Will You Commit to Justice?
Catalina Martinez began her work in this role full-time in 2017. In 2020, Coach Robert Steeples was added to the office in the role of Diversity & Inclusion Coordinator.
- Oversaw a culture audit through an independent firm to set priorities and goals for future work
- Created “Ignatian Conversation at De Smet Jesuit” norms and led process of community buy-in
- Created affinity groups: Black Student Union, De Smet Jesuit African-American Parents Council (DAAP)
(Above) Ignatian Family Teach-In For Justice, Washington DC, 2019
(Center left) Practicing Ignatian Conversation, 2020
(Center right) BSU/DAAP Fall Family Social, 2019
(Below) Students sign a banner as part of 2021 Black History Month celebration.