Greek life flourished at WGHS

Natalie Johnson
Contributing Writer

The Kappa Delta Psi sorority is one of three sororities serving Webster Groves High School in 1945. Photo provided by the Webster Groves School District Alumni Office

Sororities are often assumed to be an undergrad activity. However, Webster once had a Greek life of its own.

The sororities were not sponsored by Webster schools but were associated with them. There were three Webster sororities, Delta Alpha Delta (DAD), Delta Gamma Delta and Kappa Alpha Psi. These were national sororities, meaning there were different chapters not only around Missouri, but also around the country.

When the sororities were running, there were only three grades at the high school, 10th-12th. There were roughly 100 girls in each sorority, around 35 from each grade.

“It was an automatic group of friends of different ages where you were accepted,” Betsy Wacker, alumna from the graduating Class of 1964 and a former DAD member, said. She added the sororities were very similar to the ones at colleges.

To get into a sorority, girls had to make it through initiation, during which they were assigned a “big sis” to guide them through. There were both service components and religious components to the rush process; members most likely had to be Christian, needed 50 service hours and had to complete tasks for superior members like making copies, baking, sewing, etc. Keep in mind, copy machines were not around, Wacker said.

Wacker remembered baking cookies and giving them out at the Bethesda on Big Bend Boulevard, along with visiting with and assisting the elderly.

During initiation, rush parties were held, each having themes. Girls would go to each other’s houses and work for hours on decorations for the dances and parties. Girls would get invitations delivered to their houses inviting them to sorority activities, Wacker’s older sister Barbara Keane, Class of 1956 and former Delta Gamma Delta member, said.

Keane said, “You hoped you would get invited to the next party.” Keane described it as being very fun for the girls who were invited, but most likely hurtful to those not included. It was very competitive.

Why the sororities ended is not certain. However, it very well could have been due to “social justice,” as Wacker said. There were only white girls in sororities, all Christians. Due to the time, the sororities could be as exclusive and inclusive as they wanted without anyone giving it a second thought.

Wacker said, “[Sororities are] organizations that thrive off of people who are alike.”

Keane and Wacker both said looking back on it, the selection criteria was very unjust.
Wacker said undoubtedly the sororities were not open to everyone.

“[My] class was on the cutting edge of a lot of things… times were changing, and I think people began to notice that,” Wacker said.

Although the exclusiveness of the sororities was very hurtful to many, they meant well, Wacker said. The experience of being in a sorority really helped her blossom and gave her something special to be a part of, she added.

Wacker also said the same experience can be had through clubs like the ones at the high school today.

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