“No One Leaves Home Unless Home Is the Mouth of a Shark”

(Diary of Service Immersion Trip to Hope Community Center–Week of June 17, 2018)

Day 1: La Salle Academy students on service immersion trip at Hope Community Center in Apopka, Florida—such an important time to go beyond our own borders, to form relationships, and to hear immigration stories.

Day 2: Today we worked with members of the community in a local nursery, reflected on the power of each person’s story, and then were invited to eat dinner with families in Apopka who opened their homes to us.

I was reminded today that the antidote to bigotry, intolerance, fear, and hate is the sharing of stories, of getting to know ourselves in each other.

Day 3: I fell asleep thinking about the cries of young children along our Southern border, inconsolable and afraid, needing their parents. I have been heart sick and restless, not knowing what I could do, but needing to do something. I am not an attorney or a social worker. I am a teacher and what I can do in the face of injustice is to give my students the opportunity to see the human faces of oppression.

Today, our students continued to work alongside local migrants in Apopka, learned about DACA, and then heard from Evelyn, who shared her DACA story.  It does not feel like much. There is certainly so much to do. But it is a start.

Day 4: Another incredible day for our students. Today, we helped at Summer camp then spent the evening with local families as they opened their homes to us for dinner. The hospitality and generosity was not lost on our students. Given all of the legitimate reasons they have to be apprehensive and afraid, they trusted us, shared their homes, food, families, and stories with us.

On the van ride home, one student commented, “It is so humbling—how little I knew.”

How different our national discourse surrounding immigration could be if we all realized this, if we sought to listen and understand.

Day 5:

“No one leaves home, unless home is the mouth of a shark
You only run for the border, when you see the whole city running as well….you have to understand that no one puts their children in a boat, unless the water is safer than the land. No one burns their palms under trains, beneath carriages. No one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck, feeding on newspaper unless the miles traveled mean something more than the journey. No one crawls under fences. No one wants to be beaten, pitied “
home by Warsan Shire

Today, our students were entrusted with stories of heartache, loss, desperation, and longing. They heard about the resilience of the human spirit and the universal desire of parents everywhere to want a better life for their children.

My hope is that my students will not forget the stories they’ve heard, that they will lean on one another in the months to come. Perhaps then, they can begin to amplify the stories, voices, and truths they’ve experienced this week.

Day 6:

“And then all that has divided us will merge. And then compassion will be wedded to power. And softness will come to a world that is harsh and unkind…and then everywhere will be called Eden once again.” Judy Chicago

Thank you to Christopher Furino, Alejandra, Sr. Ann and all the sisters, and all the people that make up Hope Community Center. You are truly doing God’s work. Thank you for sharing that with us this week.

La Salle Academy students experienced a glimpse of God’s kingdom this week. We all have something to contribute to the human family; we all carry brokenness and need. But the journey is meant to be traveled together.

Students: Abigail Carr, Amelia Charleson, Emily DeCrescenzio, Ellie Eager, Patrick Hogan, Samantha Karlson, Mackenzie Moore, Joshua Philips, Elena Rouse 

Adults: Mark Carty (Social Studies Teacher) and Christine Estes (Director of Campus Ministry)

Diary written by Christine Estes

La Salle Chose You—Now You Must Choose La Salle

(Student Welcome Address at the Commencement Exercises for La Salle Academy on Thursday evening, 7 June 2018)

Your Excellency, Bishop ­­­Evans; Brother Thomas; Mr. Kavanagh; Representatives of the Diocese and the Brothers of the Christian Schools; Members of the Board; Faculty; Alumni; Parents; Guests; and fellow members of the graduating Class of 2018, welcome to the graduation ceremony of La Salle Academy.

After four years of hard work, dedication, and commitment, we have finally earned the right to be called graduates of La Salle Academy. This journey all began on a warm and sunny day in August of 2014. As we sat in the theater awkwardly looking around at each other for the first time, we had two things in common. The first was that we were all scared out of our minds and feared that none of the other students would want to be friends with us. The second was that we were all suddenly a part of the Lasallian community. At the time, most of us did not realize this.

On that end of summer day, we were all anxiously waiting to begin our high school career and were definitely not thinking about or concerned with the larger community that we were about to join. When class dean Mr. McGinn told us “La Salle chose you, and it is now time for you to choose La Salle,” this may have gone over many of our heads. What he really meant was that the Lasallian community is something that is larger than ourselves with the ideals and values that have been set in place since St. John Baptist de La Salle opened the first Lasallian school to educate poor boys in Reims, France, and is carried on by La Salle Academy opening in Rhode Island in 1871. The fact that the class of 1968, students who graduated 50 years ago, still feel the sense of commitment and dedication to come and support us as we graduate shows just how important this school is to so many people, and how this is a truly unique community.

Similar to each class that has graduated from La Salle, over the course of four years, we have been instilled with the values of the Gospel, faith and zeal, the importance of respectful human relationships, and exercising a preferential option for the poor. One of the most important principles is having a concern and sympathy for “the working class and poor.” What separates La Salle, aside from an amazing education is how we take action rather than simply discuss issues. This is demonstrated by our commitment to serving those who are impoverished in our local and global community. Our class has been especially dedicated to this ideal as we have been greatly involved in various fundraisers, mission trips, service activities, and social clubs.

The idea that we must not forget as we continue past high school and pursue a higher education and career is that while we each have our own individual interests, we now understand that we have a responsibility to the world around us. The fine gentlemen from the class of 1968 understood this and they set a fantastic path for us to follow. Whatever path we choose, whether business, engineering, the arts, social sciences, or any other field, we all will have the opportunity to share the values that we’ve learned at La Salle. What is important is that we never forget to treat people with respect and love, especially when something may not seem to work in our favor. In a serious moment, comedian Conan O’Brien reflects on his life and observes that “Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen.” While simplistic, it is with hard-work that we put into use the gifts that God has given us, and with kindness that we spread God’s love. These are the values we learned at La Salle Academy and they will serve us and our community well.

La Salle is a school where we have been continuously taught how to remain focused and dedicated to our school work and serving others. As a result, we must thank our teachers for all that they have done for us. Each teacher has been chosen specifically because they embody the 12 virtues of a good teacher. The virtues of gravitas, silence, humility, prudence, wisdom, patience, reserve, gentleness, zeal, vigilance, piety, and generosity is what holds this school together and elevates the education to another level. However, no person at La Salle embodies these ideals more than our class dean, Mrs. Richard. She has stood by us from the beginning and she has been a continuous presence in our lives throughout these past four years. The entire class of 2018 is thankful for everything that you have done, and we will never forget the love that you have shown to us. Lastly, we must thank our parents. They were our original teachers and without them, none of us would be sitting here. It is impossible to fully understand the love that our parents have for us. Whether it was helping us with our homework, driving us all around the state, or paying for our tuition, they have been there for us every step of the way. There is no way to repay you, but we love you and thank you.

To close, I would like to share with you a message from Father Pedro Arrupe, a well-known Jesuit Priest who dedicated his life to serving the poor. He says that “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love. Stay in love. And it will decide everything.” My older sister received a note-card with this message while a student at La Salle and my family keeps it on our refrigerator as an inspiration. We, the class of 2018 have chosen La Salle, and will continue to make this choice. Thank you all.

Matthew Carranza–Alumnus (Class of 2018)

Skipping Rocks—The Next Bounce

(Student Address at the Commencement Exercises for La Salle Academy on Thursday evening, 7 June 2018)

Your Excellency, Bishop Evans; Brother Thomas; Mr. Kavanagh; Representatives of the Diocese and the Brothers of the Christian Schools; Members of the Board; Faculty; Alumni; Parents; Guests; and fellow members of the graduating Class of 2018,

Growing up in New England has cultivated within me a longing to be by the water. Many would assume that I’m drawn there during the summertime, when the waves are crashing and the sun is beating down, but that is not the case. I love to be by the water during early to mid Fall, when all you can hear are the waves slowly brushing up against the sand. The water commands me to stop and reflect, then after awhile, I begin one of my favorite pastimes – skipping rocks. As a girl with little hand-eye coordination, my first time skipping rocks did not go well. However, as a girl who is also the textbook definition of inquisitive, I decided to look up not just how to skip rocks, but why rocks even skip on water.  About one hour and five articles later, I learned there’s a whole lot of physics behind it, that we don’t have time to go into tonight, but I did learn one thing about skipping rocks that has stuck with me. I discovered that every time the skipping stone hits the water, it hits it differently. Not only that but each time it bounces off of the water, it points upward, ready for its next bounce. Once I realized this, I could not help but think about the history of La Salle Academy. So tonight as we, the Class of 2018, get ready for our “next bounce,” let us reflect on those who came before us and most importantly the man who initially decided to pick up the rock – St. John Baptist de La Salle.

Prior to walking the halls of La Salle, many of us had a vague idea of the history and the legacy of La Salle Academy. During our early years here, we were educated on the life of St. John Baptist de La Salle, our founder, who was devoted to cultivating and educating the minds of young people with a special focus on service and compassion. We were educated on the mission of La Salle Academy – to unite men and women of diverse backgrounds in the pursuit of faith, service, and community. We were made aware of the people who had come before us and how they had left an imprint on La Salle. We were made aware of the wonderful facilities at the school due to the generosity of alumni and benefactors. We were
made aware of La Salle’s commitment to faith and service. We were made aware of everything relating to La Salle … well, almost everything. There is one thing that we were not told but had to learn through experience. La Salle Academy Class of 2018, the bonds that we have formed, the relationships we have nurtured, the tears that we have cried, and the laughs we have shared, sometimes when we were not supposed to, have all laid the foundation for a class that none of us could have ever imagined; nor will we ever be able to forget.

Coming to La Salle for many of us was a no-brainer, because of the school’s great reputation. However, as an incoming freshman, I was hesitant. Transitioning from a small, private middle school with a graduating class of 23, to La Salle was a dramatic change. Entering high school was a major skip against the water in each of our lives. We were all coming from different schools, each of us with different interests and talents; a multitude of differences, yet one thing in common – we had all chosen La Salle to be our new home for the next four years. As I conversed with my new classmates, I was left in awe of our similarities and also our strikingly different interests. This class was continuing the tradition of not only academic excellence but we were also continuing to cultivate a community rooted in faith and service. Regardless of how we all got here or what our driving force was for coming to La Salle, God had a plan for each of us.

It’s safe to say that we have all come a long way since we awkwardly sat in the Brother Michael McKenery Arts Center wearing our light blue shirts. As we sat there at Freshman-Spirit orientation, we didn’t have the slightest idea of all the wonderful things that would happen. We did not know that we would become best friends with the person sitting next to us. We did not know that we would not only make the team that we were in the middle of trying out for, but come senior year, we would be a starting player. We did not know that we would perform in the same theater in which we sat. We did not know that the person we spontaneously sparked up conversation with would end up assisting us in serving the community. As we sit here tonight, we cannot help but see all the providential interactions that have led to this moment. Biology lab partners who turned into best friends, Freshman Religion teachers who turned into mentors, and strangers who have turned into family.

La Salle has a funny way of taking the person walking into the school for the first time, and turning that person into the individual they were meant to become. The administration and faculty at La Salle believe in the idea that life begins at the end of your comfort zone and true growth comes from pushing yourself to do things that you had never imagined. Tonight, we are who we are, because of them. Therefore it is important to take a moment and appreciate the administrators, faculty, teachers, campus ministers, guidance counselors, and of course, our dean, Mrs. Richard for helping us grow into the young men and women that we are today. We cannot forget to thank our parents for the indescribable love that they have shown and continue to show us everyday. Over the years, they have not only supported us in our dreams, but have also carried them as if they were their own. They were our first teachers, our first coaches, our first directors, and they will always be our biggest fans. Tonight, as we are filled with gratitude for our administrators and faculty, let us, in the same way, be filled with appreciation for our parents, without whom, we would not be here today.

La Salle Academy is not just a building with four walls, it is the people who have walked, are walking, and will walk within its halls. It is the dedication of the administration and teachers to the education of young minds. It is the devotion of the campus ministers to serving the community. It is the loyalty of alumni to not only give financially but to give of their time. It is the freshman, sophomores, and juniors who will be continuing their education as we depart. It is the incoming freshmen who are unaware of the amazing memories they are bound to make. Four years ago, we were chosen and chose to come to La Salle Academy; the faculty and administrators believed that we would flourish here, and because of their faith in us, we have had some of the best years of our lives. Regardless of how far we are going for college, whether it is on the West Coast or right here in Providence, the Lasallian legacy remains with us.

That’s the thing about La Salle Academy, yes it is important what you do throughout your four years at this school, but it is equally as important what you do after. When I think of the endless possibilities for this class in the future, I cannot help but be filled with excitement for what is to come in each of our lives. I see our next bounces leading to lives dedicated to medicine, business, music, politics, art, teaching, and so much more, but what I see in all of our futures is a life rooted in the beliefs instilled in us at our home for the past four years on the corner of Smith and Academy. Each bounce prior to tonight has laid the foundation for us, and now it is our time to continue the tradition of past graduates. St. John Baptist de La Salle initially picked up the rock and it has bounced from France to Rhode Island. It has bounced through 147 graduating classes, and right here tonight, to us. So tonight, as we sit here, ready for our next bounce, let us reflect on the past four years we have spent at La Salle and let us look forward to the Lasallian legacy we will have the privilege to create.

Thank you.

Christine Dapaah-Afriyie–Alumna (Class of 2018)

We Made It!

(Prayer offered on the Public Address system for the entire La Salle Academy educational community on Friday morning, 1 June 2018)

Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.

Well folks we made it.  You and I did it.  We got to the final day of classes.  I know at times it did not look like it would happen.  Did your year turn out the way you imagined?  Probably not.  If your year was anything like mine, it took twists and turns I could never have foreseen—mistakes that took me off guard, successes that I never saw coming.  But through God’s grace and some work on our part we got through.   I’d like to close this year of classes with one of my favorite prayers.  It’s a well known one and Brother Tom began this year with it.  So it seems fitting to close with it too.  As you listen to the words, I’d ask that you take a moment and offer to God all the challenges and joys of this past year.  Take a minute to thank God for the people and experiences of this academic year.

Let us pray:

I asked for strength that I might achieve;

I was made weak that I might learn humbly to obey.

I asked for health that I might do greater things;

I was given infirmity that I might do better things.

I asked for riches that I might be happy;

I was given poverty that I might be wise.

I asked for power that I might have the praise of men;

I was given weakness that I might feel the need of God.

I asked for all things that I might enjoy life;

I was given life that I might enjoy all things.

I got nothing that I had asked for,

but everything that I had hoped for.

Almost despite myself my unspoken prayers were answered;

I am, among all people, most richly blessed.


St. John Baptist de La Salle: Pray for us

Live Jesus in our Hearts: Forever!

Christine Estes–Director of Campus Ministry