A different Opening Day this year

When Shaka Rawls ’93 became Leo’s principal in 2016, he invited the alumni back for the first day of school to greet the students and welcome the newcomers to Leo. Alums gathered in the courtyard and shook the students’ hands as they arrived at school, a display of solidarity meant to remind the kids that by enrolling at Leo, they were becoming part of something special—the Leo Family. A reception in the cafeteria followed, featuring coffee, rolls and reminiscence. 

“Opening Day” thus has become an annual celebration, with more than 60 alums taking part last year.      

Of course, that was pre-COVID. With restrictions discouraging in-person contact and emphasizing social distancing, handshakes and face-to-face courtyard greetings were impractical and not advisable this year. So the alums were not part of Opening Day, which took place on Thursday, August 13.

“We missed the alums,” Principal Rawls conceded. “But we’re hopeful that this is a one-time deal and they’ll be back next year.”

COVID restrictions permitting, the alums also will be invited back to Leo for the annual Veterans Day observance, scheduled for Friday, Nov. 6 this year. 

An important message from the Leo Administrative Team

During these uncertain times, all of us are faced with unprecedented issues and needs. Like our families, Leo High School is forced to make adjustments because of this global pandemic that affects all of us. In the hope of averting a desperate financial strain on our families, Leo is setting up both an Emergency Relief Fund and a Tuition Deferment Program to assist them.

The Bill Kay COVID-19 Relief Fund has made gift cards available to Leo families who can use some help buying groceries, filling prescriptions or acquiring other household necessities. It’s our desire at this time to keep access to our building to a minimum, so information on how to obtain the cards will be relayed to you. To apply: https://forms.gle/jGPgzG498TsVQfseA

The Bill Kay COVID-19 Relief Tuition-Deferment Program will place a reprieve of 30 days or more on your tuition payments. The deferment applies to families who are current on their tuition obligations and make their payments using our FACTS tuition-management system.

The program does not forgive your monthly payment; rather, it moves the payments back a month, or for as long as we’re out of school. You will still be responsible for the payments, but the payment cycle will be extended 30 days or more. If you wish to apply, please fill out the accompanying form. Direct questions to Ms. Tracy Crenshaw, our tuition manager, at tcrenshaw@leohighschool.org.

Both the Emergency Fund and the Tuition-Deferment Program are made possible through the generosity of Ray Siegel, a Leo alum from the Class of 1965. Mr. Siegel has provided Leo with a grant to fund both programs in honor of fellow alum Bill Koloseike ’45, who passed away at age 92 earlier this month.

A World War II-era Marine Corps veteran, Mr. Koloseike prospered as head of the Bill Kay Auto Group, which operated nine dealerships throughout the Chicago area. But he never forgot his Leo roots and was extraordinarily generous to his alma mater for many years. He is a member of the Leo Hall of Fame, and the Leo Alumni Association presented him with its Man of the Year Award in 2009.

It’s through the generosity of alums like Mr. Koloseike and Mr. Siegel that Leo continues to thrive. Even in these uncertain times, we are striving to maintain our educational focus and fulfill our educational mission.

With the school building closed indefinitely, all coursework has been moved on-line. The administration is in contact with teachers and students; anyone with questions about the process is asked to email Principal Rawls at srawls@leohighschool.org or Academic Coordinator Ms. Fleck at jfleck@leohighschool.org.

Principal Rawls reminds all parties that this is not a holiday break, and learning must continue while we are away from school.

All sports and other extracurricular activities have been suspended until further notice. The Alumni Banquet scheduled for April 24 has been tentatively rescheduled for Sept. 25. An announcement on graduation, scheduled for May 10, will be made as soon as a decision is reached.

We look forward to a resumption of our normal routines as soon as humanly possible. In the meantime, we ask that you follow all federal, state and local guidelines in the interest of remaining healthy and safe.

Please know you are in our prayers.

The Leo High School Administrative Team  

To apply for the 30-day deferment you must click here: https://forms.gle/Xbgw3H3p5G1cEdff8

Mr. Rawls feted by the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corp.

Shaka Rawls’ impact as Leo High School’s principal has not been lost on his neighbors in the Auburn-Gresham community.

Education is one of the five “pillars” the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corp. cites as essential to building strong, vibrant, sustainable communities. Recognizing his role in the transformation of Leo High School, the GAGDC honored Mr. Rawls as a Pillar of Education at its annual awards banquet on Wednesday, Oct. 30, at the Fairmont Hotel downtown.

The world-renowned Leo Choir provided the entertainment for the event, the third outside-school appearance for the singers in as many weeks. 

Mr. Rawls has made community outreach an essential part of his mission at Leo and has committed the school to several service initiatives, including Leo Men Read, which sends juniors and seniors out to neighborhood elementary schools to read with the children and stress the importance of reading for enjoyment, as well as for education.

Ray Thompson, Director of Education and Youth Development for GADC, cited those activities  in introducing Mr. Rawls. He also spoke of the prominent role Mr. Rawls has played in solidifying Leo’s future through increased enrollment and a higher profile.

“It’s remarkable what a difference one person can make if it’s the right person,” Thompson said. 

Mr. Rawls thanked his parents, John and Andre Weatherby Rawls, for pointing him in the right direction and stressing education as he was growing up. He thanked his wife, Rukiya, and daughter Samira for allowing him to devote so much time to Leo, as well as the faculty and staff with whom he works on a daily basis.

He saved his most emotional remarks for his students, in the person of the Leo choir members who stayed around for the program after performing.  

“This is for you, gentlemen,” he said, holding his award aloft. “This is for Leo.”  

This was a great night for Leo.

2019 CBS Chicago Video

Leo Honored Bob Sheehy

Robert “Bob” Sheehy has a knack for recognizing those in need and an equally valuable gift for rallying others to answer the call with him.

Sheehy’s philanthropy inspired Leo High School to recognize him with its most prestigious honor. Sheehy, a 1971 Leo graduate, received the Leo Lions Legacy Award for lifetime achievement at Leo’s fourth annual scholarship benefit at the Four Seasons Hotel on December 3.

And, Sheehy was just another golfer on Wednesday, Aug. 7, when the Leo Alumni Association hosted its annual golf outing at Gleneagles Country Club in Lemont. Sheehy’s modesty masks the hard work he puts in behind the scenes at Leo and elsewhere.

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,’” said Leo President Dan McGrath. “He has been a great help to me since the day I started working 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, Class of ’47, Bill Conlon ’63 and Tom Owens ’54. Alumni 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 well beyond Leo. A conversation with like-minded friends provided inspiration for a group now known as The Mulliganeers, a non-profit dedicated to raising the trajectory of needy people’s lives throughout the Chicago area, especially when children are involved.

Rather than respond individually to those in the throes of misfortune, The Mulliganeers decided to pool their resources and find strength in numbers until many hands made for light work.

“We each recruited 10 guys and got more,” Sheehy said. “The amazing thing was so many guys knew each other. We knew we were on to something.”

With a mission to provide assistance for those in need, The Mulliganeers have raised $5.7 million and helped 392 families out of hardship since 1995.

“The Mulliganeers exemplify all of the great qualities that are Bob Sheehy,” said Ed Kearney, a 1973 Leo graduate and Mulliganeers board member. “In turn, Bob exemplifies all that is great and generous in the mission of The Mulliganeers.

“Where ever Bob Sheehy bring his talents, he does a masterful job of utilizing everyone’s talents and bringing people along and into the fold who can contribute to the mission.”

Basketball awards

Fred Cleveland, DaChaun Anderson, Miles Thomas and Kevin Drumgoole walked off with individual awards as the Leo basketball program saluted its 24-9 season with a banquet at the Red Palm restaurant on Tuesday, April 9.

Cleveland, Leo’s two-time All-State point guard, and Anderson, who joined him in achieving All-State recognition this season, shared the team’s MVP award. Thomas repeated as winner of the Hustle Award, which goes to the player who delights in doing the little things and commits to making his teammates better. Drumgoole was cited as Most Improved Player.

Coach Jamal Thompson thanked the Lions for buying into his approach after he took over four games into the season. The Lions went on to finish third in the Catholic League White Division and won regional and sectional titles in Class 2-A before losing to eventual state champion Orr in the Joliet Supersectional. 

At the sophomore level, Adarius West was team MVP and Rich’ard Coleman was Most Improved. Cy’ree Johnson (MVP) and Devin Richardson (Most Improved) were the freshman honorees. 

Cleveland has accepted a scholarship to North Carolina A&T, and Thomas will play ball at Elmhurst College. Anderson is weighing offers from several junior colleges. Drumgoole, a junior, is expected to be a team leader for the Lions next season.

Seniors Thomas, Harris and Randle signed their letters of intent

Congratulations to (left to right) Myles Thomas, Jalen Harris and Jonathan Randle, Leo seniors who signed letters-of-intent to continue their athletic careers in college on Thursday, March 21 as school President Dan McGrath looked on. 

Thomas, who helped the Lions to a 24-9 record with regional and sectional titles this season, will play basketball at Elmhurst College. Harris, the second leading ground gainer for the Leo football team, will play football and run track at Wisconsin Lutheran University. Randle, the No. 1 pitcher for the Lions’ baseball team the last two seasons, will pitch for Harper College. 

When football standout Darryl Ousley-Parr and basketball All-Stater DaChaun Anderson sign their letters later this month, Leo will have 10 scholarship student-athletes in the Class of 2019—not bad for a school our size. It’s worth reiterating that Leo is a school of opportunity. 

Football signing day

Coach Michael Holmes looks on as four seniors from Leo High School’s 2018 football team sign letters of intent to continue their playing careers with college scholarships. The Lion signees (left to right) are defensive back Devin Flakes, linebacker Jokon Cousett, defensive tackle Gabrell Spruill and offensive tackle Elijah Lamptey. Flakes and Cousett signed with Concordia St. Paul, Spruell with Missouri Valley State and Lamptey with Kent State.

Lions win first playoff game

The takeaway from the Leo Lions’ 100-48 beatdown of Noble Street-Baker in the first round of an IHSA Class 2-A Regional on Tuesday, Feb. 19, is that the Lions won’t have it so easy again in the state tournament.

Baker plays in a CPS charter-school league that is simply not as competitive as what Leo faced during a 20-8 regular season in which Public League challenger Uplift was the only Class 2-A opponent on the docket. So it was hardly surprising that, after a  brief 2-2 tie, Leo ran off 17 unanswered points and outmanned Baker never got closer than 17 down the rest of the way.

“You try to get what you can out of games like this, and I think we accomplished some things,” Coach Jamal Thompson said.

Leo, now 21-8, will face the winner of a Wednesday night charter-school meeting between ACE-Amendla and regional host UCCS Woodlawn at Woodlawn on Friday, Feb, 22 for the Regional title at 7 p.m. The winner advances to next week’s 2-A Sectional at Marshall High School.

The Lions dressed 12 players. All of them played and 10 of them scored, with Fred Cleveland collecting 18 points, five assists and four steals in fewer than 20 minutes. DaChaun Anderson had 12 points and nine rebounds and Myles Thomas scored 15 in similarly abbreviated action.

It was a night for the bench to show its stuff. Junior Tim Howard took advantage of extended playing time and scored 12 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter. Sophomore Adarius West, continuing to establish himself as a credible backup point guard, had 11 points and four assists.

Josh Forest scored 18 for Baker (7-16).

“Everybody  knows it’s win or go home, and I think our focus was pretty good,” Thompson said. “We just have to keep it going.”

Last day for Leo placement make-up exams is February 15

The last day for makeup testing here at Leo High School is Friday, February 15th. We will also host our last home basketball game that evening, which is Senior night! 8th Graders are invited to come and test, shadow and attend the basketball game!

Please call Ms. Fleck at 773.224.9600 to make arrangements.

Here is our scholarship information: 2018LeoScholarships.FINAL