Public vs. Private: Staffer shadows Notre Dame de Sion for one day, compares single-sex private school to public school system


Cassie Nichols, Staff Writer

Vive Sion de Notre Dame.
Strong mission of our Lady.
When you think of a Catholic school, many stereotypes come to mind, especially for an all-girls Catholic school. But not all of those stereotypes may be true.
At Sion, their overall mission is very similar to Blue Valley as they “strive everyday for the highest quality of college preparatory education” in grades K-12, according to their website. The difference is how they choose to educate their students.

The obvious difference between Sion and BV is the fact that Sion is an all-girls high school, as they have been for over 100 years. According to the school website, this segregation is based upon the belief that high school girls learn better and gain more self-confidence in a single-sex environment as opposed to a co-educational one.
Sion sophomore Izzy Romano supports this idea.
“I don’t mind attending an all-girls school,” she said. “I actually feel like I can focus more without the distraction of boys.”
Sion sophomore Logan Glenn disagrees.
“Sometimes I miss going to a school with boys,” she said. “They always made class more entertaining.”

At Sion, Catholicism is a part of everything they do. Any tests taken, books read or papers written are viewed as acts performed for God. The high school has weekly morning Masses each Monday before the school day begins. Every effort is made to include scripture in prayers, readings, reflections and songs.
A few of the courses required for graduation at Sion are rarely explored by the common BV student. Throughout all four years, one of their seven periods each semester includes a religion class. As freshmen, students enroll in Faith Foundations to learn the basics of Catholicism and build a solid foundation to their religion.
The following year, Catholic Social Teaching is introduced so the students learn how to apply Catholic education to their social life outside of church and school.
Juniors are required to attend Biblical Traditions to better understand traditions within the Bible and how they may apply to modern day life.
Senior year requires coursework in the class Faith-Filled Life, designed to transition high school students to adulthood as they learn to take on the rest of the world, while still making time for God at every stage in their life.

While it is a major difference between faith-based and public education, the actual religion requirement has a small impact upon the overall educational experience. In fact, a girl attending Sion would have a very similar student schedule to any BV student.
Sion has many of the same classes as BV, such as the math and science requirements — however, there are also some exceptions.
Sion English teacher Casey Engel said the English department at Sion takes a bit more of a contemporary approach to literature than most public schools do, though they still cover a variety of the classics.
“Even more uniquely, we focus on female-centric literature,” she said. “We read more books [than public schools] that explore women’s issues, both nationally and internationally.”

As for personal appearance in the school, the girls are all required to wear a sweater or collared shirt and skirt, no more than 2 inches above the knee. If this rule is broken more than three times, then they have to wear a longer skirt that hits just below the knee.
During the fall and winter, tights are to be worn under their skirts to make the wardrobe season-appropriate. The clothes must be colored navy, tan, dark purple or white, and Sperry’s or dress shoes must be worn at all times.

Outside of the classroom, Sion offers a wide variety of athletics with its Sion Storm teams.
The girls can participate in basketball, cross country, field hockey, golf, lacrosse, soccer, softball, swim and dive, tennis, track and field and volleyball.
Unlike BV, it is a requirement that every student signs up for a club at the beginning of the semester. Their clubs, which tend to be female-centered, meet every Tuesday between second and third hour for 30 minutes. It is a strong belief in the school that clubs promote well-rounded students.

Sion is a much smaller school when compared to most co-educational schools in the Kansas City area. With this comes advantages and disadvantages.
Students know almost everyone, which creates a close, family-like atmosphere throughout the school. This includes the teachers, who tend to be more open with their students, as students are allowed to text or call their teachers for educational purposes.
Students are also allowed to bring any sort of electronic device they believe benefits their education. For example, they could bring a laptop to type notes instead of using pencil and paper.
Disadvantages include weaker technology, since the use of school-furnished electronics is not often needed.
Another difference is school lunches, where the girls get a set meal offered to them daily. This prevents them from having options in meals, like the á la carte offerings or salad bar at BV.
Although there are a good number of differences, positive and negative, Sion and BV are both strong schools that prepare students for college.
There are also many similarities, so the choice of which school is right depends on how important it is to include religious beliefs in your high school education, the environment that better fits your individual needs and the type of learning style that better prepares you for life after high school.


  • Sion school hours are 8 a.m. to 3:15 p.m.
  • Girls are allowed to wear makeup, but very few of them actually do.
  • Textbooks must be purchased at the beginning of the year and are not provided by the school.
  • If students need more time to finish a test outside of class, they sign up in the office.
  • Passing periods do not have a warning bell.
  • The students are permitted and encouraged to pray during school hours.
  • Students receive detentions for breaking the dress code.
  • The library is about half the size of Blue Valley’s.
  • The school is decorated and painted bright, girly colors — pink, orange, green, purple, etc.