With Leo’s enrollment reaching its highest total in more than a dozen years, it was fitting that a larger-than-ever alumni contingent was on hand to greet the students as they returned to school for Opening Day on Thursday, Aug. 19, the first full day of classes.

“Opening Day”—inviting Leo’s alumni back for the first day of school—is a concept conceived by Principal Shaka Rawls four years ago to celebrate how Leo Men connect across the generations. The turnout grows larger each year. More than 50 alums formed up in the courtyard this year to shake the students’ hands, welcome them to the Leo brotherhood and reinforce the notion that by enrolling at Leo, they’re becoming part of something special.

Delightfully bright, sunny weather was further affirmation.  

Jim Furlong ’65, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and author of a book recounting his war experiences and their aftermath, was one of the older alums. Ri’chard Coleman ’21, headed for his freshman year at the University of Dubuque next week, was the youngest. 

The guest list also included Greg Richmond, newly named Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Archdiocese of Chicago.

With the 8 a.m. first bell of the day bringing an end to courtyard festivities, all hands adjourned to the auditorium for a brief assembly. Superintendent  Richmond accepted an invitation to speak. A longtime Chicago resident, he is familiar with the Leo story and praised the alums as the “backbone of Leo,” thanking them for the support that has enabled the school to persist through challenging times.

Principal Rawls followed with a rousing speech about expectations. It was directed at the students, but several alums found themselves tucking in their shirts, buttoning some buttons and making other adjustments to be sure they complied with Mr. Rawls’ idea of presentable.