Sunday, May 24, 2009

Much More on Gateway and the Legion of Christ

Gateway Academy in Chesterfield to close its high school
St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Gateway Academy, a private Catholic school in Chesterfield for preschoolers through twelfth grade, will close its high school in the fall.

Administrators met with parents Wednesday night to tell them the news. They told parents there weren’t enough students to sustain the high school and they could balance the budget with only the grade school open, said parent Anastasia Rothkopf.

“It’s a wonderful school, and we’re really sad, but the reality is the economy is not great,” she said. “People have lost their jobs, and now we’re scrambling for a high school.”

Gateway opened in 1991 to 56 students in kindergarten through eighth grade. By 1996, the school went up to twelfth grade. The school has more than 400 students, and the school would have enrolled 60 students in the high school next year.

The school employs 21 high school teachers, but it is unclear how many of them will lose their jobs. Gateway officials said they would issue a statement about the closing later today.

Tuition for seventh through twelfth grade is $9,700.

Two of the Rothkopf’s seven children graduated from the school, and two attend currently. Their son, Benjamin, would have entered his freshman year at Gateway. Now, it looks like he will attend Marquette High school in the Rockwood School District. The Rothkopfs will also pull their second grader, Lydia, from Gateway and enroll her in Rockwood schools, mainly because she has health issues and the public school district can better serve her, they said.

“It’s like there’s been a death in the family, everybody is just saddened by it,” Rothkopf said. “The school was just more than a school, it was a community, like most Catholic schools are.”

The school was started by a group of people in the Regnum Christi movement, an apostolic movement in the Catholic church. The group patterned their school after schools started in Mexico by the Legionnaires of Christ, a religious order. Gateway teaches the Catholic faith but is not affiliated with any parish nor with the archdiocese.


I graduated from Gateway a few years ago and heard the news today. I’m not entirely sure if I personally agree with the statement above likening this event to the death of a family member. A number of people I know who graduated from the school are alright with having it go. I can’t even begin to explain the magnitude of shady politics and hypocrisy that went on behind the scenes at this institution (concerning the administration). However, I have learned a great deal academically from Gateway Academy and pray that its great teachers (Dr. Griesbauer is my favortie) find employment soon.

— Gateway Alum
7:45 pm May 21st, 2009


Gateway has been a wonderful place for our children. We planned on our kids graduating from there. My daughter would have been a Freshman next year. We are now looking for other options.
Our son will stay at Gateway. What happened in the upper school is unfortunate, but the kids that now get the opportunity to use high school quality facilities during their lower school years will truly be the luckiest kids in town! I encourage families to consider Gateway for their young children - it is an amazing place, and many great things happen there everyday.
Now is the time to stay positive,consider the families,staff,children who have to endure this.
It is our responsibility as good citizens to be kind.

— Lisa Lineback
1:56 pm May 22nd, 2009

Gateway was run by a highly controversial, secretive and scandal-ridden religious order called the Legion of Christ. We urge St. Louis Catholics to carefully research the track record of this outfit.

David Clohessy
National Director, SNAP
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
7234 Arsenal Street
St. Louis MO 63143
314 566 9790

david clohessy
4:24 pm May 22nd, 2009

As a past parent at Gateway Academy, I can say that I feel for the parents and kids. However, this school is run by a corrupt, manipulative and deceitful organization. They do not care about the well-being of the students or the parents. It is nothing short of a disaster. The grade school will be next. It is a shame because there are some wonderful families at the school. Unfortunately, they are being manipulated and lied to by the administration. I pray that the families will find new schools. There are many good institutions and wonderful people outside of Gateway Academy. I would strongly caution anyone looking at Gateway for elementary school. They may have wonderful facilities, but that is about it as far as education.

— prior gateway parent
7:28 pm May 22nd, 2009

Well, truthfully as a somewhat niave graduate of Gateway Academy, I was very shocked to hear of this news. We always joked about something like this happening but never thought it would, we always assumed the opposite, that Gateway Academy would build a college.

I would like to take the time to offer my condolences to all faculty, staff, and students who were adversely affected by this news.

Although, I mourn for those hurt by this decision, as a graduate, I am somewhat relieved to see this high school’s reign of terror coming to a close. As for most teens, attending this high school was probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do. I say this as a recent college graduate who is now out in the ‘real-world.’ For a school that claimed to be so Catholic, so much evil took place there. Anything from the typical lies and manipulation from fellow students and administrators to things far worse (including an assault from a parent of one of my classmates).

As I said earlier, I have the utmost empathy for all of those negatively affected by the situation but at the same time feel that this is the poetic justice that many of us deserve. It is important to remember that there are always consequences for our actions. I wish all of those affiliated with this institution the best as they go forth to rebuild their careers and personal lives.

— Gateway Alum
9:53 pm May 22nd, 2009

I have nothing but good things to say about Gateway and the Legionaries of Christ. We have had all 6 of our kids at Gateway. We have been at Gateway for almost 10 years. We consider it a gift to the Church and a gift to our family. We are thankful that we will continue to have the opportunity to educate our lower school kids there. I am sorry that anyone else may have had a bad experience there.

For anyone who has questions regarding the Legionaries of Christ, I would refer them to the Pope.

— annette keipp
10:23 pm May 23rd, 2009

You may not want to refer parents to the Pope after the visitation from the Vatican is completed.

— prior gateway parent 7:09 am May 24th, 2009


Anonymous said...

So, did the high school kids even finish their school year, or was it cut short because of this precipitous school closing?

I appreciate the heartfelt comment posted by a student (on the newspaper comments, not here) explaining how she considered the school like a family. I would say her friends at the school and hopefully some teachers were like family to her, but the school itself, particularly the administration is no family to her or anyone studying there. A family doesn't abandon it's members. A family finds a way to pull through in tough times.

The Legion's wallet is getting thin and schools such as Gateway will be the first to be cut off from the withering tree.

But you have to ask yourself, if they can't afford to run a small high school in St Louis, how can the LC afford to take over and run a university down in Georgia? Isn't the Fr Scott Reilly who was so optimistic about taking over SCC last month, the very same one who personally shut down Gateway high school a few days ago?

I guess I don't understand LC logic or LC math.

Patrick Kinsale said...

The closure coincided with the end of the HS school year but the final exam schedule has been altered.

Anonymous said...

I have news for the person claiming the economy is to blame. The Legion of Christ is going through yet another time of great scandal, and many of their supporters have lost trust in the Legion.

Look around you. Every other private school is living through the same economic times as Gateway. Are other schools closing down or downsizing?

People who have long supported the Legion are hanging onto their money as the Legion continues to spin the wrongdoing of the founder, continues to avoid the issue of Father Maciel's abuse victims, continues to deny his victims the justice of an apology for labelling them liars, and continues to characterize the Apostolic Visitation as a very fortunate show of support from the Vatican. The visitation is an investigation of their congregation which has every possibility of concluding with a closure or refounding of the Legion.

Anonymous said...

Anon, I know many people do see it this way, myself included. But, it is very sad to see some who don't really get news from other sources continue to believe the spin. The Legion is still very much damaging people as it withers away. :-(

Anon in STL