(CBS) – It’s the first day of classes at many schools in our area, including Hales Franciscan.
There’s something new at the Catholic high school, CBS 2’s Derrick Blakley reports.
They’re pioneers in a brave new world: the first female students ever at Hales Franciscan.
“I took it as an opportunity to make the best of making history,” coed Jailyn Brown says.
Hales opened 50 years ago to provide Catholic education for African-American boys. But the need to increase enrollment, and double the available market, led the decision to go co-ed.
“We need to plan for the future, and increasing the enrollment will secure that future,” Hales president Jeffrey Gray says.
For now, they are just 10 new girls in a school of 120. They are freshmen, sophomores and juniors.
“Me, I like the challenge because there’s a lot of boys and you can’t let the dominant society overrule the feminine society, right?” student Zaria Jones says.
As for the returning boys, most welcome the change.
“Certain people were not too happy about it, but I think it’s a good opportunity for girls to receive the education we’ve been given the last three or four years,” Hales senior Tim Robertson says.
Some things will have to change. For 50 years, the school’s motto has been “In virum perfectum,” or “Unto perfect manhood.”
Well, not anymore.
“It’s very different, but I’m not intimidated,” Jones says.
Hales has a capacity of 400 but hasn’t had an enrollment that high for many years; most Catholic girls’ schools nearby closed decades ago. By going co-ed, that’s a vacuum Hales now hopes to help fill.