Students at Xavier High School in Chuuk, Federated States of Micronesia. (Photo by Emily Zlevor, courtesy of Xavier High School. Provided to America Media by Mary McAuliffe.)

Last March, in response to the global COVID threat and a severe drought, Xavier High School in Chuuk, long known as “the Harvard of Micronesia”, sent all of its students home with an early end to the school year. Now, with Xavier students residing all across Micronesia, the beginning of the school year fast approaching, and the borders closed in Palau, the FSM, and the Marshall Islands, many students and families have been waiting to hear what School Year 2020-2021 will look like.

This Wednesday, Fr. Dennis Baker, the Director of Xavier High School, gave them an answer.
In a video address posted on Youtube, Fr. Baker described Xavier’s plan for the upcoming school year to open its campus for Xavier students living in Chuuk State, who will commute every day from their homes to school and be taught by the few teachers still on island. Those students living outside of Chuuk will have the opportunity to continue their Xavier education– but not on Xavier campus.

Fr. Baker called on FOX (Friends of Xavier) groups in each of the island states and nations to identify people to lead “Xavier satellite tutorials”, meaning that the school will prepare and send class curriculum and materials, provided there are people available to teach them.

“The theme for the 2020-2021 school year is this: realistic and optimistic. Realistically, we are not able to have the kind of school year to which we have all become accustomed,” Fr. Baker stated in his address, citing such limitations as quarantine laws, border closures, and the United Airlines flight schedule. “But we want to collaborate, especially with FOX groups . . . we’re stressing the need to be flexible, and work with each island group to find out what the needs and possibilities are.”

Fr. Baker emphasized the need for commitment from Xavier alumni in each island, who make up the majority of the FOX groups, although he also mentioned that, “you need not be an alumnus or alumna to get involved.”

Although the plan for those Xavier students in Palau is still under development, many have enrolled in Mindszenty High School, also a Jesuit school which demonstrated its close ties to Xavier this past spring, when three Xavier students graduated alongside the Mindszenty Class of 2020.

“For a while, the sail on the Xavier canoe has been down, and it’s been hard to see where we’re going,” Fr. Baker said. “We’re working really hard to get the mast back in place, and the sail back up, so we can continue on our journey once again.”

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