“Oh when those Leo men fall into line ...” and a long, generous and committed line it is!
Yesterday, was a typical day at Leo High School. I got in a little before 6 AM, after treating my readership to a couple of posts - topical and just plain fun. I opened mail from Mrs. McMahon of Florida who sent in a check in remembrance of Tim Sullivan '39 who went home to Christ in December. I had a Leo hat signed by the National Honor Society circulated among the students that will be sent to Mrs. Rose Rita Sullivan for a memorial for Tim Sullivan in Naples, FL. I talked to the energetic and studious Jeremy Clark of the Freshman Class who arrives at Leo shortly after me each day and must be kicked out of the place after his Freshman Basketball duties - Jeremy is an A Honor Roll student and a kid who cannot help exerting his talents over and above the call of duty. Jeremy worked the Veterans Observance in November and is present at every school event and activity. Like I said, the best hours of his day are spent within the walls of Leo High School.
The Walls and infrastructure were built in the 1920s. After Jeremy had gone to class, the chief of maintenance Ronell Reynolds reported that some plaster had fallen. Phil Mesina called contractor Lloyd Fuller who is an older model of Jeremy Clark. Lloyd sent his sons to Leo in the 1980's, drives the basketball team, attends every Leo event and is one of the top African American contractors in Chicago and Leo is in the wallet that Mr. Fuller opens to the "Lighthouse" on 79th Street. Lloyd sent tradesmen before the 3rd period.
Presdent Dan McGrath and Principal Phil Mesina supervised and accessed the damage with the plasterers. Vice Principal Fran Wilson, the Leo High School Gunny, a Marine, educator and Christian gentleman made the academic rounds. All the while the real work of the school was being done by the young and committed faculty - Mike Holmes, football coach and Admissions Director, attended property hearing on three lots Leo will acquire; Ms. Kurta, the Guidance Counsellor reported on college acceptance to Marquette, DePaul, Iowa State, Boston College and University of Illinois for members of the class of 2011; Ms. Aurora Latifi, Leo's Albanian born math teacher and Bookstore Chief, shepherded the gents through the arcana of Algebra and Calculus. I researched some grants.
Ms. Natasha Adams rushed to my cubicle with a UPS Express Envelope. It contained a letter from a Leo Alumnus Class of 1969 who is in the Insurance Business. Here is some of the letter
Dear Pat,and it continued.
It has been a while since we have spoken, I would like to contribute the enclosed check to Campaign Leo ( our Fall Mailing) to support the great work that all of you are doing at the school. I continue to be amazed by your progress, The School is a lighthouse in the inner city and provides students a good education by Christian adults. . . . Please use these funds to continue your excellent work. . . .
This gentleman is no Bill Gates. Like most Leo guys, he is successful. More importantly, like all Leo Men he is equipped with a massive heart. Leo has guys who give huge sums of cash, but more importantly come to the school and mix with the kids. Frank McDermott is at every Leo Basketball game hours before tip-off . . .of the JV Games. Guys from the 1940's like Jackie Schaller, Lou Knox, Bob Hylard Dick Prendergast, Jimmy McNicholas, Don and Jack Hogan, Bill Koloseike, and Bob Joyce are at every event - like Jeremy Clark, Leo Freshman.
The enclosed check was for $ 25,000. I was gobsmacked. . . again. No wonder I'm slug-nutty.
Leo's Brawny Stalwarts do not 'wait the sign' as the school song goes, but their collective 'might against the foe (poverty, ignorance, cruelty,secularism) is hurled.'