Imagine being one of 60 incoming freshmen at Leo High School’s summer orientation last month, and the principal greets students “live” through videoconference from Ghana, West Africa.
From another continent, Leo Principal Shaka Rawls welcomed the class of 2023 via modern-day technology in the presence of their intercontinental hosts while Leo upperclassmen were engrossed in the experience of their young lives.
This year’s freshman class is the largest in decades, and that bodes well for Leo’s Centennial Celebration in four years.
“We embrace life experience beyond the classroom at Leo to prepare our young men for the changing and challenging world ahead of them,” said Leo president Dan McGrath, a 1968 Leo graduate. “Since Shaka Rawls arrived as principal those real-life experiences have become richer, and they fuel each student’s confidence in his own future.”
Rawls, Leo Class of 1993, took over as principal on July 1, 2016, with a proven track record of academic success. His own trips to Ghana inspired him to raise the funds—and the bar—to include Leo students, who embraced the African culture and showcased their own cultural offerings through singing performances for students at the schools they visited.
The students documented their encounters in fishing villages, markets and entertainment venues.
“I’m a Leo Man,” said Rawls. “Leo has been a big part of my life since I was 14 years old, and I’m looking forward to another year and the unique opportunity to serve the school that has meant so much to me and help it grow. I believe education is the key to success in life, and I’m committed to providing a quality Catholic education to every young man who comes to Leo.”
Lifetime Achievement Award
Leo will honor Robert “Bob” Sheehy for his philanthropic endeavors with the Leo Lions Legacy Award for lifetime achievement at the fourth annual Scholarship Benefit at the Four Seasons Hotel on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019.
A longtime member of the Leo Advisory Board and its current president, Sheehy played a pivotal role in devising and implementing the strategy that enabled Leo to keep going after the Christian Brothers of Ireland severed ties to the school in 1992. He has remained involved with school leadership ever since.
“Bob embodies ‘Facta non Verba,’” McGrath said. “He has been a great help since the day I started work at Leo. Not many people have contributed as much to Leo over the years, and in as many ways, as Bob has. This award is a fitting acknowledgement of what he has meant to us.”
Sheehy is the fourth recipient of the Leo Lions Legacy Award, following Andy McKenna ’47, Bill Conlon ’63 and Tom Owens ’54. Alums from the 1940s, ’50s, ’60s and ’70s are now represented.
A standout receiver for the Lions, Sheehy continued his football career on scholarship at Purdue University, graduating in 1975. He and his brother Jim Sheehy, Leo ’77, operate Robert J. Sheehy and Sons Funeral Homes in Burbank and Orland Park.
Sheehy’s philanthropy extends to the Mulliganeers, a non-profit dedicated to raising the trajectory of people in need, especially children. During Sheehy’s tenure, the Mulliganeers have raised $5.7 million and helped 392 families out of hardship since 1995.
Last year, Leo alumni saw the completion of the courtyard beautification project on 79th Street, which included a rehabbed entryway with glass doors, new paneling and paint, along with a new reception area and relocation of main entrance.
New monuments were erected honoring men and women of military service along with the creation and installation of a memorial for young people whose lives have been lost to gun violence. A modern digital message board replaced the hand-lettered marquee sign in the courtyard.
Renovation of the auditorium topped Leo’s to-do list for the summer of 2019. The project was already in the planning stages, but a burst pipe above the ceiling in the auditorium during last winter’s polar vortex expedited the process. When Leo’s students return in mid-August, they’ll find a new floor, a new ceiling, freshly painted walls, new curtains, a new sound system and a modernized, expanded stage gracing one of the busiest rooms in the building.
Leo High School, 7901 S. Sangamon Ave., will hold its next open house on Aug. 28, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
For more information, call (773) 224-9600 or visit the website at leohighschool.org.