De Smet Jesuit High School began in the early 1960's under the leadership of Fr. John Choppesky, S.J., and Fr. Gregory Jacobsmeyer, S.J.
Classes began on September 5, 1967, and the school was dedicated on February 25, 1968. With each new year, De Smet Jesuit added another class to the student body. On June 2, 1971, the school held its First Annual Commencement.
De Smet Jesuit enrolls approximately 800 - 1,000 students from the entire metropolitan area. The curriculum is college preparatory and involves programs in personal formation, athletics, and religious formation.
De Smet Jesuit High School Through the Years
August 15, 1962 - Fr. John Choppesky, SJ, appointed rector of SLUH by Missouri Province Provincial, Fr. Linus Thro, SJ, with the mandate to build another Jesuit high school in St. Louis. This plan is endorsed by then Archbishop, Joseph Cardinal Ritter, who stated he would like to have two or three more Jesuit high schools in his archdiocese.
The name chosen for the new school was De Smet Jesuit in honor of Fr. Pierre Jean De Smet Jesuit who was one of the chief founders of the Missouri Province and of the Society of Jesus in mid-America.
In addition, it was decided that SLUH would give De Smet Jesuit $500,000 - "it is given solely and exclusively for setting up a scholarship fund for students attending De Smet Jesuit High School, but only as long as De Smet Jesuit is a Jesuit sponsored high school."
The plan was to build the school on a 50-acre tract in St. Louis County (the original location was on Weidman Road but changed to a Ballas Road location). The school facility would consist of an academic wing, cafeteria, auditorium-chapel wing, gymnasium, and faculty residence. The academic wing was to be built first and the others added as funds became available.
May 4, 1964 - City of Creve Coeur approved the plans for De Smet Jesuit High School.
May 15, 1966 - Ground Breaking Ceremony for De Smet Jesuit High School.
The fathers of 20 incoming freshmen agreed to serve on a Board of Directors. They advised the school administration in matters of public relations, school policy, operations, budget, and the solicitation of future gifts (corporate and individual). Bill Holland, SLUH 1943, was the chair of the Board. Fr. Greg Jacobsmeyer, SJ, was the first president of De Smet Jesuit and Fr. Gerry Bone, SJ, was the first principal. Both sat on the Board as ex officio members.
September 5, 1967 - First Day of Classes at De Smet Jesuit High School. The faculty was composed of 6 priests, 4 scholastics, 2 brothers, and 5 laymen. Freshmen took a modern foreign language (French, German, Spanish, Japanese); chose an elective from Latin, a second modern foreign language, or geography/government; English, algebra, ancient history, typing, religion, and PE.
Board of Trustees was formed with Fr. Greg Jacobsmeyer, SJ, as chairman in addition to his duties as president.
February 25, 1968 - Dedication of De Smet Jesuit High School.
Winter, 1969 - De Smet Jesuit "C" basketball team won the school's first athletic trophy.
July 5, 1969 - Jesuits moved into their residence. Up to this time they had been living in the school building itself.
December 8, 1971 - Jesuits moved into residence addition. There still were a couple of Jesuits living in the school building. Approximately 27 Jesuits at De Smet Jesuit.
June 2, 1971 - First Graduation Ceremony - Henry Autrey was the first student to receive a De Smet Jesuit diploma.
Winter, 1972 - De Smet Jesuit wins its first of 13 Mid-States Hockey titles - Ron Schneider in 1972, 1976, 1978; Ron Gulley in 1980, 1985, 1986; John Murray in 1989 and 1990; Charley Miller in 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2002.
Spring, 1972 - First senior projects. The projects went for three weeks at the end of the year after final exams and before graduation.
Spring, 1973 - First state championship - basketball. De Smet Jesuit has won 5 basketball championships in total - Rich Grawer in 1973, 1978 and 1979; Dale Burgman in 1982; Bob Steiner in 1999.
January, 1976 - Final resolution of scholarship money gift from SLUH was made. $160,000 was given and borrowed against for original construction; then $90,000 was given; finally, another $80,000 was given towards the original promise of $500,000. This money was a source of heated contention between the two schools for a good number of years.
1978 - Board of Directors came to an end. Joseph Sansone was the final chair of this Board.
February 1, 1980 - Original mortgage was burnt.
Fall, 1982 - Revised plan for service projects is adopted - juniors go out to service work every Tuesday afternoon throughout the year; seniors are required to do a 40 hour service project on their own time. Age related projects were added for the sophomores. The term "Men for Others" took on an increased emphasis and became the unofficial motto of the school.
Spring, 1983 - De Smet Jesuit won state championship in golf. This was the first of four golf state championships - Frank Hawkey in 1983, 1985, 1986 and 2003.
Fall, 1983 - De Smet Jesuit won its first state championship. Rick Horas was the coach.
Spring, 1983 - With a gift of $164,000 this year, the Jesuit Community surpassed $2 million in gifts to De Smet Jesuit.
June 15, 1984 - New lobby and student commons constructed.
Fall, 1985 - De Smet Jesuit received National Exemplary School Award from the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Private Education.
November 5, 1985 - Official blessing of the chapel by Archbishop John May. The chapel was dedicated to All the Saints of the Society of Jesus. Later re-dedicated in memory of Woody Boian, SJ, a former president who died of leukemia.
Spring, 1986 - De Smet Jesuit won first of back-to-back state championships in tennis. Bob Kelley was the coach. These are presently the only state championships in tennis that De Smet Jesuit has won.
Fall, 1988 - Alex Kohnen enrolled as a freshman; he is the son of Steve Kohnen '71 and the first son of a graduate to enroll. Alex graduated in 1992.
1988 - De Smet Jesuit's Service Program was recognized as a National Model by the Council for Religion in Independent Schools. Commitment to service continues to be the identifying characteristic of a De Smet Jesuit graduate.
1990 - Nick Lamb was named Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Nick was the first De Smet Jesuit alumnus to hold this position. Also this was the first time the chairman of the Board of Trustees was a different person than the president of the school. The two roles were permanently separated.
Fall, 1991 -Soccer won its first of four state championships - Greg Vitello in 1991, 1993, 1995 and 1997.
June, 1991 - Bingo began at De Smet Jesuit. Bingo continued until 2000 and raised over $1 million for the school.
October 5, 1991 - First football game held under the lights on the De Smet Jesuit campus.
Fall, 1992 - Steve Rotello was the first Alum Service Corps volunteer to work at De Smet Jesuit. He taught business law, economics, and introduction to the computer in addition to coaching football and basketball. The ASC program continues to serve the students of De Smet Jesuit.
Spring, 1992 - Track is completed; however, it was only an asphalt surface. The rubberized surface came later.
Fall, 1995 - Enrollment passed the 1,000 student mark for the first time - 1,022 students.
Kairos retreats are introduced at De Smet Jesuit. To date, there have been 58 Kairos retreats.
September 1, 1994 - New art center construction is finished, and the area is put into use.
1995-2000 - Expansion 2000 capital campaign. First major capital campaign in the history of De Smet Jesuit. $4.5 million raised.
Fall, 1996 - The school is named the Gertrude Alberici Memorial, and the stadium is dedicated as the Pierre LaBarge Stadium.
September 26, 1996 - Gala opening of the Thomas Hunter, Jr., Theatre.
Spring, 1996 - Volleyball team won its first state title, and has presently earned one other state crown - Shawn Kendrick in 1996 and John Hawkey in 2009. Lacrosse won the first of its 6 state championships - Mike Sennett in 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2001 and 2002.
Fall, 1997 - Largest freshman class ever enters De Smet Jesuit - 350 students.
October 1, 1997 - Rubberized track installed.
Fall, 2000 - Largest student body ever at De Smet Jesuit - 1,265 students.
April 25, 2000 -Five acres of land at the north end of the campus are purchased from Florence Lindner.
Spring, 2000 - Baseball won its first and presently only state title. Greg Vitello was the coach.
2001 - The Board of Trustees added Gabriel Alberici to the dedication of the school.
2002-2007 - Continuing the Journey capital campaign. $7.2 million raised.
March 17, 2002 - The start of construction on the new academic wing and cafeteria remodel. The new facilities were ready for use on the first day of class in August, 2003.
May 1, 2002 - Another five acres of land is added at the north end of the campus. This time it is purchased from Janet Lindner.
Winter, 2002 - Kevin Fober lead the De Smet Jesuit swimming and diving team to its first state title. Currently this is the team's only state championship.
Fall, 2004 - Three-story academic wing housing 24 new classroom and 3 new science rooms was completed. The cafeteria was remodeled into Pierre De Smet Jesuit Hall. The entire school was set up to be wireless for internet connectivity. Smartboards were introduced into the classrooms.
Spring, 2004 - De Smet Jesuit athletic teams won their sixth consecutive Metro Conference All Sports Trophy.
2005 - The HP Tablet program began at De Smet Jesuit.
November 2005 - De Smet Jesuit won its first football state title. "Sparky the Squirrel" enters the annals of De Smet Jesuit athletic history. Pat Mahoney was the coach. This is currently the only football championship De Smet Jesuit has won.
Winter, 2006 - De Smet Jesuit won the state title in racquetball under Patrick Hostman.
Spring, 2006 - Jesuit Community gift to De Smet Jesuit nears $5.5 million (1977-2006).
2007 - De Smet Jesuit celebrated its 40th Anniversary.
Spring, 2008 - Get In The Game capital campaign launches.
April 18, 2008 - Ground is broken for renovations to LaBarge Stadium, including a new press box, track and turf field.
May 5, 2009 - The new baseball facility is blessed and dedicated.
In the history of De Smet Jesuit High School, six presidents have occupied the office in the southeast corner of the building.
Gregory H. Jacobsmeyer, S.J. 1967-1971
Thomas F. McQueeny, S.J. 1971-1981
Sherwood T. Boian, S.J. 1981-1990
Richard L. Bailey, S.J. 1990-1998
John D. Arnold, S.J. 1998-2007
Walter T. Sidney, S.J. 2007-Present
Pierre De Smet
In the history of the Westward Expansion of the United States, one of the pivotal figures was Pierre De Smet, S.J. He was born in Termonde, Belgium, in January, 1801, and entered the Jesuit novitiate in Maryland in 1821. He arrived in St. Louis with twelve other Jesuits in 1823 to open a school for Indians near Florissant, Missouri. At the invitation of Bishop Rosati, he was among the Jesuits who took over the direction of the small college founded in 1818 by Bishop DuBourg. This school would be chartered by the State of Missouri in 1832 as Saint Louis University.
In 1838, Fr. De Smet made the first of many overland journeys to establish missions among the Indians. The first mission was at Council Bluffs, Iowa, among the Potawatomie tribe. In 1842, Fr. De Smet became the first Jesuit missionary to travel to the Indian Tribes of the Pacific Northwest.
Fr. De Smet was able to win the confidence of both the Indians and the white settlers. The Indians called him "Blackrobe" and held him in high regard. In 1868, Fr. De Smet visited the camp of Sitting Bull in the Big Horn Valley of Montana, although this chief had vowed to kill any white man to show himself there. Sitting Bull welcomed him and agreed to a conference which eventually ended hostilities. De Smet was called upon regularly to arbitrate treaty conditions during the latter years of the 19th century.
Fr. De Smet traveled more than a quarter of a million miles over the Western Plains and across the Atlantic to Europe in the service of the American Indian Tribes. He died on Ascension Thursday, 1873, at the age of 72.