The Lasallian spirit is alive and well at DeLaSalle, as we celebrated educational excellence at our annual Founder’s Day Mass on April 30. 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 Kevin Kenney ‘78, pastor of St. Olaf parish in downtown Minneapolis, celebrated this year’s Founder’s Day Mass. He was joined by past parent and Deacon Mickey Friesen (father of Chloe ‘15).
Following the liturgy, assistant principal Martha Coughlan led an awards ceremony which recognized a number of students and four individual staff members, including the 2021 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.
For the first time ever, this year there was a tie in the voting for the Distinguished Lasallian Educators. We recognize Principal Jim Benson and Director of Service Learning and Community Programs CJ Hallman ‘02.
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 2021 LETA was awarded to Science teacher, Melanie Townsend.
De also took time to recognize two Lasallian Volunteers, Max Conrad and Pablo Cardenal, who are completing their post-graduate service to DeLaSalle when the school year ends. Mr. Conrad, a graduate of Saint Mary’s College of California, will pursue a graduate degree in anthropology at the University of Mississippi. While at De, Max has worked in the Learning Specialist 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. Pablo will return to Boston College this fall, where he will begin graduate work in higher education student affairs.
Deacon Mickey Friesen, in his capacity as Director of the Center for Mission of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis, 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 are you living out the Church’s mission to share God’s love during the COVID-19 pandemic?” Deacon Mickey honored Leila Ambrus ‘21 for writing the winning essay.
The DeLaSalle Alumni Association awards scholarships to a group of current DeLaSalle eleventh graders as selected by an Alumni Scholarship committee. Twelve current juniors were honored as Alumni Scholarship winners, receiving scholarships for the 2021-22 school year. Each student was honored for their quality application and academic success, participation and leadership at DeLaSalle, and service to the broader community. Congratulations to Daniela Bunay Chima ‘22; Lauren Daher ‘22; Abril Flores Chacón ‘22; Tajelle Freeman ‘22; Umeran Hailu ‘22; Kyle Johnson ‘22; Gus Langford ‘22; Aidan McCauley ‘22; Fiona Mundy ‘22; Cris Palaguachi ‘22; De’Jaun Simmons ‘22; and Kyle Walker ‘22.
Finally, and fittingly on this day that honors the legacies of Saint John Baptist de La Salle and the Brothers of the Christian Schools, the three 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, and Brother Dylan Perry, FSC were joined by Brother Michael Fehrenbach, FSC, the Visitor of the Midwest District, as they 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 121 years and counting.
For a complete list of Distinguished Lasallian Educators at DeLaSalle, please click here: