Xavier: The School & Community
Xavier High School is located on the island of Weno in Chuuk State, on a hilltop the locals call Winiku. In September 1952, the Jesuits opened Xavier as a minor seminary for boys to study for the priesthood. Soon, it became apparent that an academic high school was needed in Micronesia, thus Xavier became the first college-prep high school graduating its first class in 1956. In August 1976, girls were enrolled and the school became one of the first co-ed Jesuit high schools in the world.
Government of these islands, once incorporated as the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, was administered by the United States from the end of World War II until the 1980s, when the island groups separated to form sovereign nations. These nations maintain strong economic and political ties to the U.S. through their Compacts of Free Association. The young men and women who compose the student body share the ethnic label Pacific Islander, but have richly different cultural and economic backgrounds.
Although home to beautiful islands and a strong family-centered culture, politically and economically, Chuuk State is often viewed as the home of the unfortunate islanders. Chuuk is the poorest state in the Micronesian region in terms of per capita income and most other measures. There is a high unemployment rate. The state infrastructures are insufficient to support the citizens. Health and public education are still in poor conditions. Residents struggle to earn a subsistence living from a limited resource base that is already depleted by pollution and unsustainable methods of harvest.
Today, Xavier’s entire enrollment is 188 students, grades 9-12. It draws its student population primarily from the three island nations of Micronesia: the Republic of Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republic of the Marshall Islands. A couple students from the Republic of Kiribati and South Korea are also enrolled at Xavier.
The administrative offices, teachers’ offices, faculty and student dining rooms, computer and media rooms, and a gym are housed in a former Japanese communications center dating to pre-WWII. Male students board in a dormitory at the school; female students live with local host families. English, the second language of most students, is the language of instruction at the school.
Many parents who enroll their children at Xavier find it difficult to pay their children’s tuition. The cost of transportation from the Marshall Islands, Kosrae, Pohnpei, Yap, and the Republic of Palau to Xavier is high. There is disparity in how much parents pay for their children’s education because of the transportation cost to have their children attend Xavier High School.
Xavier strives to maintain an affordable tuition and has a long-standing policy of accepting students regardless of the inability to pay school fees. The current annual tuition is $1,480, to which most students’ families must add several hundred dollars for air transportation. The estimated total annual cost of educating a student at Xavier is over $4,000. The Jesuits of the USA Northeast Province, the FSM National Government, and other kind-hearted and generous benefactors subsidize the cost of students’ education at Xavier. In addition, some families agree to pay more than the minimal tuition.
The academic program is organized on a traditional daily schedule. A maximum load is 3.5 credits per semester with students carrying seven 50-minute classes. Students meet six class periods daily on a six-day cycle. All students enroll in a college-preparatory course sequence. No courses are designated as “Honors.” A minimum of 25 credits, including 4 years of English Skills, Mathematics and Religion, is required for graduation.