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Art instructor Jill Hetherington helped Alise Sextro with her gouache technique image of Johnny Depp in the new art studio at Rosati-Kain High School in St. Louis. The high school has a long history of excellence in the fine arts.
Art instructor Jill Hetherington helped Alise Sextro with her gouache technique image of Johnny Depp in the new art studio at Rosati-Kain High School in St. Louis. The high school has a long history of excellence in the fine arts.
Photo Credit: Lisa Johnston

Rosati-Kain’s art program goes to ‘next level’

Fine arts efforts are example of Catholic schools’ aim for excellence

Students eagerly asked the advice of Rosati-Kain High School art teacher Jill Hetherington as they worked on their projects.

More highlights on the hair, Hetherington told one student about her drawing. Smaller dots was the advice for another student on her portrait. When another student asked Hetherington what to do next, the educator encouraged her to rely on her instincts.

Senior Jakiya Johnson tried the new pottery wheel for the first time and listened intently to Hetherington’s instructions on holding the clay in the center, feeling it with her hands and eyes and pressing down as it gets smoother.

“She helped me a lot,” Johnson said, noting that she was surprised by the “arm power” needed for the task. “It didn’t make sense until she showed me it visually and kept explaining it.”

On display

Marshonna Hill worked on a graphite project in the new art room at Rosati-Kain High School in St. Louis on Oct. 3. Over the summer, the art room was expanded and new equipment added, thanks to a grant from the Roman Catholic Foundation.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
Rosati-Kain’s fine arts programs will be on display Sunday, Nov. 3, during an open house for prospective students. Other Catholic schools in the archdiocese also are hosting guests that day, as well as Oct. 27 and Nov. 10.

Rosati-Kain has a long history of excellence in fine arts. Hetherington teaches the visual arts offerings — 10 courses ranging from freshman art to portfolio preparation.

Her guidance depends on the level of the students. “Typically my freshmen and sophomores will have what I call ‘lock-step classes.’ My main objective is just that they master the technique,” Hetherington said.

For juniors and seniors in advanced drawing, painting 2 and ceramics, “they have a good understanding of the technique, they have that foundation. They can break the rules and can have their own voice in their artwork,” said Hetherington, who is a 2013 graduate of Rosati-Kain.

High school art classes, she said, gave her confidence that she didn’t gain from other aspects of school life. “It’s a safe place to fail. They can try it again, and it leads to that confidence,” she said.

Alise Sextro, a senior in the Painting 1 class, said “we have a lot of freedom in what we do. I’ve furthered my skills in painting and learned the different techniques. The skills you learn here are really helpful because you learn to adapt when things aren’t working.”

Mia Webster, a junior, said she enjoys the variety in her Arts Foundations class, the third art class she’s taken. Another junior in Arts Foundations, Emma Wood, said “there’s always something new when you walk in. You’re in control of what you can do to your projects, and I like that.”

Added space

AunYe Caldwell practiced for a Chirstmas concert after school at Rosati-Kain High School in St. Louis.
Photo Credits: Lisa Johnston
This summer, with help from the Fathers Club at the school, the back wall of the art room was knocked down, which doubled the space and bringing in added natural light. The flooring was restored to its original look. A grant from the Roman Catholic Foundation helped with the purchase of pottery wheels and supplies.

“It takes our program to the next level and makes it a lot more competitive with other schools,” Hetherington said.

Art is important, she said, because “if you have the ability to have an understanding of design or a simple concept of how to put colors together, that skill can be transferred, for example, to designing your home or special knowledge of how to organize.”

Hetherington’s interest in art began at a young age. She sewed and made jewelry starting at age 10 after learning how at a camp program. Her mom took her to craft fairs where she sold jewelry. She studied under Pat Spellman at Rosati-Kain and then in the art program at Missouri State University in Springfield, Mo.

Marshonna Hill, a senior in Arts Foundations, said that the class is typical of Rosati-Kain where “you are free to be yourself without judgment. There’s always someone there to talk to and support you. Having that access will help in the long run, especially in gaining more independence as I go off to college.”


Music, theater, too

Music and theater are other fine arts that are part of the legacy at Rosati-Kain High School. For the first nine years of the school that opened in 1911, the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet taught without remuneration. Their expenses were covered by teaching needlework and music lessons, and a subsidy from the respective motherhouses.

Anna Markiewicz, a senior, is in the R-K Voices class, a select ensemble with an emphasis on performance. Her mom also was in Voices, and Markiewicz has enjoyed choir since the fourth grade. At Rosati-Kain, “I like the variety of opportunities I have, both in the school and the music department,” she said. “I am able to sing in multiple choirs.”

Another senior, Cara Langhauser stayed after school along with other students preparing for “The Addams Family: the Musical” performances at 7 p.m. Nov. 5, 8 and 9 at the school. It’s her fourth musical at Rosati-Kain, and she has the role of Morticia. “Our director, Ms. (Sarah) Morris is incredible. She knows how to work with students and takes their input. If we have a natural tendency with our characters, she asks us to follow that and see where it leads.”

They have fun and form close bonds with students in the various class levels, Langhauser said.

Morris, recipient of the 2019 M. Cathlin Casey Award for Teaching Excellence, has served as theater director for 21 years. “Theater was something I clung to and really found my place and where I belonged when I was in high school,” Morris said. “I feel so privileged and blessed to facilitate that art at this school and bring that joy and art to these girls and boys from the schools who come to join us. It gives them a place where they can experience this truly awesome art form because theater is so vibrant, true and ever-changing.”

Students will rehearse scenes and musical numbers from “Addams Family” during the Nov. 3 open house at Rosati-Kain.

>> Open houses

Students in sixth, seventh and eighth grades and their parents are invited to tour Catholic high school facilities and learn about their programs at upcoming open houses.


High school open house programs will be held:

Sunday, Oct. 27:

• 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at St. Dominic High School

• Noon to 2 p.m. at St. Francis Borgia Regional High School

• 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Pius X High School.

Sunday, Nov. 3:

Noon to 4 p.m. at Barat Academy, Cardinal Ritter College Prep, Cor Jesu Academy, Rosati-Kain High School, St. Joseph’s Academy, St. Mary’s High School, Ursuline Academy, Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School, and Visitation Academy

• Noon to 3 p.m. at Trinity Catholic High School

• 11:30 to 4 p.m. at Saint Louis University High School

• 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Chaminade College Preparatory School, De Smet Jesuit High School, Incarnate Word Academy, Nerinx Hall High School and St. John Vianney High School

• 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Bishop DuBourg High School

• 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Christian Brothers College High School, Duchesne High School and Notre Dame High School.

Sunday Nov. 10:

• 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. at St. Louis Priory School.

For information, contact: Office of Catholic Education and Formation at (314) 792-7390 or JuditheOliver@archstl.org

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