Beginning in 1908, Rev. Michael P. Dowling, S.J., wrote to his superiors informing them he had selected a site at 52nd Street and Troost Avenue for Kansas City’s Jesuit college and preparatory school. He called it “Rockhurst,” drawing inspiration from Stonyhurst College in England, because the grounds were stony and a grove of woods nearby brought the word “hurst” to mind.
Then known as the Academy of Rockhurst College, the high school was officially chartered by the State of Missouri in 1910. Four years later, 42 students enrolled in the first freshman and sophomore classes, taught by three Jesuit faculty members. The original 42 became the class of 1917 and the first of thousands of young men to be educated at Rockhurst.
“Not Mere Minds"
The school’s original prospectus charged The Academy of Rockhurst College “to turn out young men whose mental faculties have been so developed and formed that they may successfully enter upon the immediate preparation of any career.” The first Jesuit faculty accomplished this by offering a course of classical studies with equal emphasis on moral formation and religious instruction, noting “it is men who are to be trained, not mere minds.”
From Academy to High School
The Academy of Rockhurst College became Rockhurst High School in 1923, but remained incorporated with the college. In 1962, Rockhurst High School became a new and separate corporation when it moved to the present site at 9301 State Line Road. The Robert C. Greenlease family became the high school’s principal benefactor and the name “Greenlease Memorial” was added to the school’s official title.
A New Chapter
Rev. Terrence A. Baum, SJ, was named the school’s sixteenth president in 2004. Under his direction, and through the dedication of alumni, parents, faculty and friends, Rockhurst High School continues to be a place where young students learn to become “men for others” who distinguish themselves for the greater glory of God.