Nerinx Hall Dedicates Remodeled Library to Barbara Roche
“The library of the 21st century is active, social, contextual and engaging.”
– Dean of University Libraries Laura O. Reim
March 7, 2019, marked a historic day in the life of Nerinx Hall High School, St. Louis. The school honored past President Barbara Roche by dedicating the newly remodeled Nerinx library to her in gratitude for her vision, hard work and commitment to Nerinx students for more than 25 years as president.
The Barbara Roche, SL Library states as its mission, “The Library is to provide the resources Loretto women need to know themselves and their world, to be enriched by diversity and to answer the call to Christian action.”
The library is a storehouse of knowledge and one of the most attractive sites in the school so that students naturally will be drawn to it and their outlook broadened by placing a vast sphere of information before them. The naming of the Nerinx library for Barbara is fitting because true leaders always serve a cause greater than themselves.
Barbara’s service at Nerinx inspired servant leadership among the students and on-line and experiential learning as students and faculty came together in a learning environment. She empowered critical thinkers, increased enrollment, enhanced the fine arts department and encouraged the young women to participate in a variety of sports teams.
A new physics lab and the media center were created under her leadership. The year 2002 saw plans to “go green,” and in 2007 the Heagney Theater and Knapp Family Student Commons were added.
Barbara was welcomed and thanked at the library dedication by Nerinx President John Gabriel. Warm words of gratitude filled the room and applause greeted Barbara. She was surrounded by old friends, especially members of her Nerinx graduating class of 1964. Also present for the celebration were former students and faculty, current teachers, staff and Loretto Community members.
If walls could talk…
Gather a design crew of planners, students, graduates and Loretto Archive personnel and begin asking: What are the values and vision we want to tell along the wall in the new library? What are the events that mark the highlights of success and challenge of a congregation and a school? The result, shown in the artifacts and photos, reflects the Loretto/Nerinx story that is the heart of the Barbara Roche, SL Library. It is a wall that situates the first days of the Sisters of Loretto and tells the story of Little Loretto, the first foundation in Kentucky, and by decades gives a snapshot of growth from 1812 to the present. The founding of Nerinx Hall High School in 1924 is intertwined with the Loretto mission of education, including the “sister schools” — Loretto Academy in El Paso and St. Mary’s Academy in Denver. For history buffs, reading a middle column of the wall is of great interest; it lists every Loretto school since the order’s founding.
The visitor will see an evolution of what happened at Nerinx as the years went by. The new building in 1954 and the fire in the gym in 1984 are just two of the milestones along the journey. The energy of the students, their educational advancement, experiences of service and personality of the school parallel the vision and values of Loretto.
A surprise to a visitor are the round empty wooden disks. More stories will appear on them. You are welcome to visit the wall in the library often. The library staff — Katy Smith, Lee Allery, Sarah Sidney and Erin Wagner — will be happy to assist you. The decision of the Sisters of Loretto to go to China, South America and Pakistan will be featured as will new directions set by students, faculty and administration.
“Planner in chief” Julie Padberg-White, graduate of 1988, shares the good news of Loretto and Nerinx in the wall’s progress. Julie worked with Loretto Archives Director Eleanor Craig and Katie Santa Ana, former archivist, to gather Loretto artifacts for display.
Stand before the wall and “listen” to the stories. The Loretto/Nerinx wall does talk … enjoy what it has to say.