The Lasallian spirit is alive and well at DeLaSalle, as we celebrated educational excellence at our annual Founder’s Day Mass on April 24. Founder’s Day is celebrated each year in Lasallian schools worldwide, to honor the legacy and vision of the school’s namesake, St. John Baptist de la Salle and to recognize the religious order of teachers he founded, the Brothers of the Christian Schools (or more commonly, the Christian Brothers).
It’s tradition at this time of year, in over 80 countries with Lasallian schools, to gather each school’s entire community for Mass. At Minneapolis DeLaSalle, we also take time after Mass to recognize select staff and several students for exceptional work and service. Father Joe Gillespie `61, pastor of St. Albert the Great parish in Minneapolis celebrated the 2019 Founder’s Day Mass. Father Joe was joined by two con-celebrants, Father Bruno Nwachukwu, school chaplain, and Father Kevin Kenney `78, a Board member and pastor of Divine Mercy parish in Faribault, and they were assisted by Deacon Clarence Shallbetter `56. Several parents and alumni also joined us as guests for the liturgy.
Following the liturgy, Barry Lieske and Jim Benson, our president and principal, led an awards ceremony which recognized four Christian Brothers, a number of students, and three individual staff members, including the 2019 recipients of the school’s most prestigious annual awards for teachers and staff, the Distinguished Lasallian Educator and the Liemandt Excellence in Teaching Award, known as the LETA.
The Distinguished Lasallian Educator Award is presented in Lasallian schools throughout the United States and Canada each year, by the Regional Board of Education of the Christian Brothers. The annual selection is made by nominations of the entire staff at DeLaSalle and is based upon the following criteria: (1) The recipient must be an educational minister in a Lasallian school for a minimum of five years and not received the award within the past ten; (2) The recipient must work in association with the school community to foster Gospel values in the lives of staff and students; and (3) The recipient must see the Lasallian school as a place of educational excellence, which shares in the mission of the Catholic Church.
DeLaSalle’s Distinguished Lasallian Educator for 2019 is Theology teacher, Keely Wojda.
The LETA was established in 1995 by Diane Liemandt, through the Liemandt Foundation. By vote of the teaching staff, the LETA is given annually to a DeLaSalle classroom teacher, to recognize outstanding accomplishment in the following areas: commitment to the DeLaSalle mission; classroom management skills; care for students, respect and rapport; curriculum enhancement and advancements; innovative teaching strategies and effort; and participation in continuing education and personal growth.
The 2019 LETA was awarded to English teacher, Shante’ Reed `98.
De also took time to recognize one of our two Lasallian Volunteers, Jumari Callaway, who will be completing her two years of post-graduate service to DeLaSalle when the school year ends. Ms. Callaway, a graduate of Christian Brothers College, will be returning to her hometown of Memphis, Tennessee before beginning graduate school. While at De, Jumari has worked in the Student Support Office and, as a component of the LV program, lived in community with the Christian Brothers and other volunteers in the Christian Brothers Hall residence.
Deacon Mickey Friesen, an alumni parent of DeLaSalle and the Director of the Center for Mission of the Archdiocese, made a guest appearance to salute a current Islander. Each year the Center for Mission sponsors a writing contest for students in Catholic schools of the Archdiocese. This year’s contest asked students to reflect on the question, “How can you share Christ’s love with those who are different from you?” From over 800 entries submitted in 2019, the winner of the contest at the high school level was JunFen Freihammer `20. Deacon Mickey presented the award to JunFen.
The DeLaSalle Alumni Association awards scholarships to a group of current DeLaSalle eleventh graders as selected by an Alumni Scholarship committee. All applicants must have had at least one family member graduate from DeLaSalle. Veronica Pettini `07, a member of the DeLaSalle Alumni Association Board and current head coach of the cheer program at De, presented the scholarship awards, assisted by current Alumni Association president, Pat Kaiser `74 and past president, Denny Farrell `62.
Twelve current juniors were honored as Alumni Scholarship winners, receiving scholarships for the 2019-20 school year from the DeLaSalle Alumni Association. Each student was honored for their quality application and essay, academic success, participation and leadership at DeLaSalle, and service to the broader community. Congratulations to Maya Adelgren `20, Ainsley Cox `20, Rayo Daniel `20, Eden Feleke `20, Calvin Mattson `20, Ally McCarthy `20, Elena Mercado `20, Sydney Riley `20, Susanlynn Singroy `20,Lucy Suek `20, Diana Truong `20, and Paige Ung `20.
Finally, and fittingly on this day that honors the legacies of Saint Jean Baptiste de La Salle and the Brothers of the Christian Schools , the four Christian Brothers who live in the residence on campus came to the stage to renew their vows as Brothers in front of the assembled community. Brother Dennis Galvin, FSC, Brother Michael Lee Anderson, FSC, Brother Ryan Anderson, FSC, and Brother Dylan Perry, FSC once again proclaimed a fidelity to their chosen vocations and a worldwide Lasallian mission that serves as the backbone and heartbeat of our work at DeLaSalle for 119 years and counting.
For a complete list of Distinguished Lasallian Educators at DeLaSalle, please click here: