Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Leo High School Graduation at St. Columbanus May 21, 2011

Gates Millenium Scholar Eder Cruz and Principal Phil Mesina outside of St. Columbanus Catholic Church.
Soon to be members of the Leo Alumni Association
Leo Teachers and Urban Heroes All!
The Gunny -VP Frank Wilson with Ms. Silva and Ms. Latifi
The Prize

Leo High School not only endures, it thrives. Established in 1921, Leo High School's first student registered was Francis O'Neill Class of 1930. On Sunday May 21st at Chicago's St. Columbanus Catholic Church the 82nd Class of graduates received their diplomas from Principal Phil Mesina, Vice Principal Frank Wilson and President for Institutional Advancement Dan McGrath ( Leo '68).

Chicago Tribune columnist and Wittenberg College's greatest field-goal kicker Fred Mitchell addressed the graduates - his theme " Let No One Else Define Your Life." The young men coming out of St. Columbanus with a Leo Diploma, were not defined by their freshman entrance scores, the neighborhoods where they lived, the dollars in their family accounts, or the denomination of Christian church in which they were baptized - in fact one or two young men are Muslims. In four years, they learned to meet the odds and better resourced foes. It matters not that Leo has no track, its track team left all the wealthy suburban and private schools in the dust at Friday's IHSA Track Sectional with a score of 110.3 with their nearest competition scoring 87 points. It matters not that Leo High School's facility is eighty-five years old and land locked in Gresham on 79th Street without a tree-lined campus. What happens inside this school is a miracle.

Eder Cruz 2011 is a Gates Millennium Scholar. Eder's classmates Josiah Jones and Edward Vaughan the Salutatorian and Valedictorian will both attend University of Illinois with scholarships. Denzel Tucker, one of the toughest and finest young men it has been privilege to know, will go to Ferris State College in Michigan. Denzel is one of the State Track qualifiers, a boxer, a student leader and a gentleman to the backbone.

These fine young men and their classmates were served by genuine urban heroes. The faculty of Leo High School is comprised of veteran Catholic school war-horses like the legendary Pete Doyle who served as an Irish Christian Brother in the '60's, Principal in the '90s and the new Millennium, the spiritual link of thousands of Alumni to the school's traditions and mission, Leo's utility man Mike Holmes ( Football Coach, Admissions Director, Dean of Men and community activist/broker) Bob Schablaske, Joe Check, Ed Adams, Dr. Milt Kobus and The Gunny - Vice Principal Frank Wilson, USMC (ret.) who developed Leo's Freshman Academy. There is also a maniple of young men and women who patiently and commandingly direct the studies and deportment of proud and at times 'willful' young men - Aurora Latifi, Margarita Silva, Jon Crotty, LaDonna Hill, Noah Cannon, Kaitlyn Curta, John Lattiere, Nick Masciola, Christine Meany, Melinda Monge, Robert Sills, Bill Tomaka, Gloria Jones and Velma Smith.

Two Leo Alums, Dr. Jack O'Keefe and Denny Conway came out of retirement and volunteered to coach and tutor Leo upperclassmen to improve ACT scores. The school's scores were raised by 2 full percentage points over last year thank to these men.

Supporting all of these good people are the 8,000 + Leo Alumni. The Leo Alumni pumped hard needed dollars into scholarships for Leo families and into operational costs. More importantly, Leo Men are present at every event the school hosts and our guys know who exactly is backing their efforts and who will have their backs in the years to come.

Leo High School is blessed with young men who are making the school stonger -

Meet Darnell Harris of the Class of 2014. Darnell leads the freshman class with a GPA (unofficial prior to final exams mind you) well above 3.Something, plays basketball and was Leo's Student of Month for April. He is flanked by President Dan McGrath and some guy from Little Flower.

I love doing sic and fetch for this great school and the magnificent people the school represents.

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