Sponsored by:

Comment, blog & share photos

Log in | Become a member
The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Saturday, August 11, 2001

Meet the only boy on campus at St. Francis

By Jennifer Hiller
Advertiser Education Writer

In a sea of plaid, pleated skirts, ponytails and parochial school imagery sits MacKenzie Metcalfe, a 17-year-old boy set adrift in a school full of girls.

Outnumbered 425 to one, Metcalfe will spend his senior year as the first and last male student to ever grace the halls of Saint Francis School's campus in Manoa.

MacKenzie Metcalfe: Outnumbered 425 to one

"I just can't go around and lift skirts with sticks or anything like that," Metcalfe said. "I was warned to behave properly."

A unique set of circumstances virtually ensures that when he leaves, the quiet campus will return to the all-girl tradition that began in 1924 when the Franciscan sisters first opened the doors.

Sister Joan of Arc Souza, principal of Saint Francis School, invited Metcalfe to the campus after his high school on Kaua'i closed. Metcalfe had spent three years at the Saint Francis satellite campus in Lihu'e.

When dwindling enrollment caused that school to close in the spring, there was no other Catholic high school on Kaua'i for Metcalfe to transfer to. Until Souza invited him to Saint Francis' campus in Manoa, he had no other choice but to go from the atmosphere of a 100-student campus to attending a large public school. Because Metcalfe had visited the O'ahu campus, knew some students here and had friends making the switch, he said the all-girls school was the easier decision.

"It's a plus for me," Metcalfe said with a shrug. "But it really doesn't matter. My mom gave me that option of coming here or going to public school on Kaua'i.

"It's not going to be easy. I knew I would have to work hard, but it's a better environment."

All of the Kaua'i campus' students were invited to O'ahu.

"It was the Franciscan thing, the Christian thing to do in this situation," Souza said. Five students decided to take her offer, but Metcalfe was the only boy.

When his small Catholic school closed, MacKenzie Metcalfe was faced with transferring to a large public school. Then Saint Francis principal let him join the girls.

Cory Lum • The Honolulu Advertiser

Because three boys graduated from the co-ed Kaua'i campus before it closed, Metcalfe will become the fourth male graduate of a Saint Francis School in Hawai'i next May.

"It was unique," Souza said. "It will probably never happen again in our history. Ten years from now, they'll talk about the time we had four boys graduate."

Perched on the edge of a picnic table in the senior courtyard after school, Metcalfe doesn't see what all the fuss is about.

For that matter, neither do the girls who line the rest of the bench.

"It's nothing," said Liz Narkon, a senior who has attended Saint Francis since the sixth grade. "Same old thing."

School officials said Metcalfe drew attention the first few days of class, but things have settled down since. Male teachers, other staff members and friends of students who are allowed to visit the campus at lunch and after school mean that while Metcalfe is the only male student — he's far from being the only guy on campus.

"It would seem like a big deal," Metcalfe said. "When you sit down and talk to people, it's nothing."

Metcalfe will live with his aunt, Hattie Perkins, in Kane'ohe for the year. On school breaks and long weekends, he'll return to Kapa'a to the home of his parents, Thomas and Robin Metcalfe.

And as for the really pressing issues: Yes, there is a boy's bathroom at school. Metcalfe has already finished his physical education requirements, eliminating the possibility of locker room issues. If he wants to participate in sports, he can do so through the Pac-Five, the Interscholastic League of Honolulu conglomerate of small schools.

And, no, he doesn't have a girlfriend.

Souza said no one has called the school to complain about enrolling a boy.

"We told the seniors class ahead of time," she said. "None of the girls had a problem. I said, 'Imagine your school closing your senior year and how you would feel.' "

Reach Jennifer Hiller at jhiller@honoluluadvertiser.com or 525-8084.