Graduation Day 2023

By Dan McGrath

The weather was cool, damp and threatening, but it couldn’t dim the spirit in and around the church as Leo High School held its 94th commencement celebration for the Class of 2023 at St. Margaret of Scotland on Sunday, May 14 – Mother’s Day.

Forty-two seniors received diplomas before a packed house of family, friends and relatives. The sheer joy and exultation that greeted the announcement of each graduate’s name was a reminder of what a truly special occasion this was.

Mrs. Tiffany Harston, Leo’s guidance counselor, did a splendid job as MC for the program. President Dan McGrath and Principal Shaka Rawls commended the class for dealing with COVID’s many challenges as effectively as they did in making it through to graduation. The world-renowned Leo Choir performed. Each senior presented his mother with a Mother’s Day poem he had composed as a Senior English writing project for Mr. Redmond’s class.

But, in an unusual twist,  the highlight of the day was the speeches.

Matthew Hernandez displayed the poise and confidence he said he was grateful for acquiring during his Leo journey, one that saw him become an honor student, class Salutatorian, National Honor Society member and all-conference baseball player.

Esai Jacinto said he never would have had the nerve to deliver a speech to a packed house when he entered Leo as a nervous little freshman, not knowing anyone and not sure he belonged. But he not only was accepted, he was challenged to become all he could be at Leo: Valedictorian, honor roll, National Honor Society, varsity wrestler, four-year baseball starter. 

Esai grew emotional as he thanked his family, his friends, his teachers, his classmates and his coaches—especially Coach Mike Anderson—for helping him find the path to success at Leo. Several people were seen dabbing at their eyes as he went down the list.

In an amazing display of personal connection, Principal Rawls used his speech to recall an interaction or an anecdote about each senior in the graduating class. Nothing pro forma; every message was personalized to let the young man know he’d been recognized and appreciated as a Leo student.

“And now you’re going out into the world as a Leo Man,” Mr. Rawls said. “Make us proud.”

Jacinto and Tim Durr took home two gold medals apiece as Senior Award recipients. The complete list:

• William J. Koloseike Gold Medal for Athletics: Kevin Jackson
• Bishop John R. Gorman Gold Medal for Religion: Jonathan Agee
• Michael L. Thompson Gold Medal for Music: Timothy Durr
• Donald F. Flynn Gold Medal for History: Matthew Hernandez
• Dr. James J. Ahern Gold Medal for Science: Timothy Durr
• Thomas and Mary Owens Gold Medal for Mathematics: Thomas Sims
• Stafford L. Hood Gold Medal for English: Esai Jacinto
• Br. James Glos Gold Medal for Foreign Language: Dorion Woods
• Frank W. Considine Gold Medal for Social Justice: Christopher Robinson
• Andrew J. McKenna Gold Medal for Leadership: Esai Jacinto 

Congratulations to all the members of the Class of 2023 and their families.

And many thanks to the faculty, staff and parent volunteers who put together a spectacular day for Leo.

We’ll do it again next year … and for many years to come.  

Stankiewicz ’66, Malec ’46, Spivy ’92 to be Honored at the Alumni Banquet

Jim Stankiewicz, Man of the Year 

Dr. Jim Stankiewicz ’66 has been selected as Leo Alumni Association Man of the Year and will be recognized at Leo’s annual Alumni Banquet on Friday, April 28 at Chateau Del Mar in Hickory Hills.

Ron Malec ’46 (Doc Driscoll Award) and Antwayne “Tony” Spivy ’92 (Community Service) are this year’s other award recipients. The six-member Hall of Fame class includes Renardo “Rick” Hall ’72, the late Bill Holland ’73, Fred Nelson III ’77 and three of the eight Marks Brothers to attend Leo: Albert ’64, William ’66 and Daniel ’67.

Jim Stankiewicz was an honor-roll student, a class officer and a starter on the Lions’ 1966 Catholic League lightweight basketball champions at Leo. He earned undergrad and medical degrees from the University of Chicago. An ear, nose and throat specialist, he is renowned in the medical community not only as an accomplished surgeon but as a professor at the Loyola University School of Medicine, where he helps train the next generation of physicians and surgeons.

Jim is also a generous and engaged supporter of Leo, a regular at Alumni events and the primary underwriter of the Class of ’66 Scholarship, which provides full tuition assistant to a deserving student-athlete in memory of Coe Francis, a standout football player from the Class of ’66 who died in a drowning accident the summer after graduation.

“Terrific honor for a terrific guy,” Leo President Dan McGrath said. “Jim Stankiewicz is the embodiment of a Leo Man.”

Doc Driscoll Award to Ron Malec 

Ron Malec was one of the lead developers of the Maple Park Subdivision, which featured affordable, single-family homes on the city’s Southwest Side. Ron later became a full-time Florida resident, but he never forgot his Leo roots. In conjunction with Maple Park’s 60th anniversary, Ron has started a scholarship program to make it possible for students from Whistler and Higgins, the two elementary schools serving Maple Park, to attend Leo.

So far, six graduating eighth-graders from the two schools are enrolled and registered to attend Leo as Malec Scholars beginning this fall. The principals and counselors at Whistler and Higgins have endorsed the program, embracing Leo as a better option for their students than their district public schools.

“Mr. Malec’s support means a great deal to Leo,” Principal Shaka Rawls said, “and it will mean even more going forward as more Maple Park kids take advantage of this great opportunity.”

Community Service 

If Leo were to present an MVP Award to its staff, Tony Spivy would have been a candidate in each of the three years he has worked at the school.  

Mr. Spivy is a jack of all trades as an on-line class monitor, assistant dean, lunch-room supervisor, bus driver, field-trip chaperone, etc. And he’s a master of all of them, engaging the students with a firm but cheerful demeanor that lets them know he’s looking out for them, but he expects them to be their best selves in return.

“Mr. Spivy has been a great addition to the staff and a big help to me,” Principal Rawls said of his former Leo football teammate. “I appreciate the Alumni Association recognizing him for the great work he has done.”

2023 Leo Hall of Fame Inductees

Renardo “Rick” Anthony Hall ’72 was the first Black student to serve as Leo’s student body president. In keeping with his penchant for bringing people together, he was heavily involved with the planning of his class of ’72 50-year reunion last year, but he suffered a sudden, fatal heart attack mere weeks before the event. Rick had a positive impact on thousands of lives throughout his career in higher education. His widow Alisha and family have been invited to this year’s banquet to accept Rick’s Hall of Fame plaque.

Fred Nelson III ’77 got his start in music long before he arrived at Leo—his dad, Fred Nelson Jr., was a popular keyboardist, and Little Fred was first exposed to the instrument while sitting in his dad’s lap. After leaving Leo he embarked on a career as a performer, later branching out into arranging and producing for such legends as Aretha Franklin, Anita Baker, Jennifer Hudson and Celine Dion. On the side, Fred worked for several ad agencies, writing and producing commercials for, among others, McDonald’s, Polaroid, Coca-Cola and United Airlines. The give-back gene is active within Fred; in addition to his musical pursuits, he serves as Artistic Director to the students of School District 162 in Matteson, IL. Like Principal Rawls, he has been recognized as a Chicago Defender Man of Excellence. 

Bill Holland ’73, Leo football standout and student body president, left us last June. He remained a Leo Man long after graduation, engaged and active with the Alumni Association, a regular at Leo events, a member of the school’s advisory board. And his family kept Bill’s Leo Spirit alive after his death, requesting donations to the Leo Scholarship Fund in lieu of flowers. The response was so generous that one sophomore—a former student of Bill’s teacher/daughter Mary Kate—is attending Leo on scholarship. And a second student will be selected for another Bill Holland Scholarship this fall, a life-changing experience for two deserving young men who might have been hard-pressed to attend Leo were it not for the generosity of Bill’s family and his countless friends. Facta non Verba indeed. 

The Marks Brothers Will Be Welcomed into the Hall of Fame

Albert ’64, Bill ’66 and Daniel ’67 Marks

Albert Marks was the first of the eight Marks brothers to attend Leo, and while he took great pride in those who followed, he was an accomplished man in his own right, a combat veteran of the Vietnam war who enjoyed a prosperous career in sales after his military service. Albert’s family was the center of his life; he was married to Kathy for 52 years, he coached son Tom and daughter Michelle in youth sports, and he eagerly found time for his four grandchildren. Al died in January 2022.

Bill Marks was a multi-faceted man at Leo, a Glee Club officer, a Drama Club mainstay and a starting lineman on the ’65 Lions football team, which sent eight players on to Division I colleges and is regarded as one of the best teams in school history despite its loss to Loyola Academy in the Catholic League championship game. Bill served 14 months in Vietnam as a military policeman with the U.S. Army and later graduated from DePaul, which set him up for a long career in sales. He was honored to take part with other Vietnam vets in a 2018 Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., one year before his death.

Daniel Marks served with the U.S. Army in the demilitarized zone in Korea after graduating from Leo. He and Christine, his wife of 36 years, had two children and two grandchildren, and he has good things to say about his time at Leo.“My favorite memories are of the people I met in high school,” he says. “They have become lifelong friends.” Dan believes his Leo experience prepared him to take on the world. “My time at Leo showed me how a solid education can better prepare you for future endeavors. Supporting Leo is important to my brothers and me. The Leo kids deserve an opportunity to succeed in life.”

Leo Honors Women’s History Month

In Praise of Women

March was Women’s History Month, and Leo celebrated it by using its web site and social media platforms to recognize women who are making a difference in their communities. Women from a variety of fields were saluted each day of the month. The  celebration concluded with a breakfast for the honorees at Leo on Friday, March 31.

Five women with close ties to Leo were included: Fajr Al-Nurridin, office manager and executive assistant; Mollie Zajac Clark, English/Social Studies teacher and Student Council moderator; Aurora Latifi, Math Department chair and National Honor Society moderator; Tiffany Harston, Guidance Counselor, and Mary Burke, a graphic artist and Leo Hall of Famer who is the creative force behind all of Leo’s marketing and recruiting materials.

Among the other honorees: Patricia Brown Holmes, retired presiding judge of Cook County Juvenile Court and current managing partner of the Riley Safer Holmes Cancilla law firm; Chicago writer Heidi Stevens, whose popular syndicated column focuses on family dynamics, and Rebecca Lindsay Ryan, an executive with the Big Shoulders Fund and a strong supporter of Leo.

“Of course we’re an all-boys school, but it was important that we do this to remind the boys that women are deserving of an equal place in society, and they’ve had to fight to attain it,” Principal Rawls said. “Every one of the women we’ve recognized is someone the boys should look up to and try to emulate as a contributor to society.”

Staff Sergeant James Fagan ’13, USMC

James “J.D.” Fagan graduated from Leo in 2013 as class valedictorian. He was also a baseball standout and a member of the chess and bowling teams. 

On Thursday, Feb. 16 he returned to Leo as Staff Sergeant James Fagan, USMC, having chosen Leo as the site of the ceremony for his promotion from sergeant to staff sergeant.

“This is a significant step in a Marine’s career,” said Chief Warrant Officer Richard Whelan, USMC, who presided. “It’s like all the sergeants’ names are listed on a board, and the ones best suited to continue to serve and fulfill our mission are selected for promotion to staff sergeant. What it says is we want this individual to remain in the Marine Corps.” 

Sgt. Fagan joined an ROTC program while attending college at SIU-Edwardsville. The military lifestyle appealed to him, as did the opportunity to avoid accumulating thousands of dollars in college debt.

“The government is paying for my education,” he told an assembly of Leo students, “and I’m seeing the world.”

Since enlisting for active duty, Sgt. Fagan has deployed to South America, Spain, Germany and Israel. He is currently assigned to the Marine Recruiting Station at 51st and Pulaski in Chicago.

“It’s not a bad life, and there’s definitely a feeling of accomplishment in the work you do,” he said in urging his fellow Young Leo Men to consider the military as an option. “Ten years ago, I was sitting there just like you, wondering what was next for me. I’m grateful that the Marine Corps opportunity presented itself. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made.” 

Bears Coach Eberflus, WGN’s Glenn Marshall and Author Nick Brooks

An NFL head coach and a best-selling author. A young mayoral hopeful and a committed-to-the-truth street reporter. 

All were among the speakers who visited Leo High School and interacted with the students during Black History month. Here’s a brief rundown of each presentation:

“Approach it as a partnership” 

Before he begins full-scale preparations for his second season as Bears coach, Matt Eberflus told Bears Care Director Marge Hamm that he’d like to visit one of the organizations that partners with Bears Care in community-service projects.

Mrs. Hamm, a longtime friend to Leo, suggested Leo High School. Eberflus came on Friday, Feb. 24. In his talk and in the Q&A session that followed, he made a strong impression on the students with his candor and his easy, approachable demeanor. 

“There are three things that I believe are essential to success in any endeavor,” Eberflus, 52, told an all-school assembly. “Be on time, be respectful and work hard, to the best of your ability. Commit to those three things and you’ll get results.”  

A football player since the fourth grade, Eberflus said he always knew he wanted to coach, and he got into it immediately after graduating from the University of Toledo. He was a two-time All-Mid-America Conference linebacker, but he lacked the size and speed NFL teams require at the position. 

“Nick Saban, the Hall of Famer, was our head coach my senior year, and even though I was only around him for a year, how he went about it really made an impression. He was a major influence. We still talk regularly.”

In Eberflus’ experience, the best coaches are those who approach the job as a partnership. “You’re not only trying to build a better player, you’re trying to build a better person—someone who can be all he can be,” he explained. “If you’re successful in that, you’ll build trust. And trust is essential to any relationship.”

Eberflus reminded the boys that progress toward one’s goals requires persistence and patience: He put in 30 years as an assistant at the college and pro levels before landing the Bears’ head-coaching job in January 2022. After a lengthy tenure as defensive coordinator at the University of Missouri, he moved to the NFL as linebackers coach with the Cleveland Browns. He later coached the Dallas Cowboys’ linebackers and was defensive coordinator for the Indianapolis Colts when the Bears hired him.

“I had six head-coaching interviews,” he said, “and then two offers: the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Bears. I chose the Bears. The history, the tradition, the McCaskey family, the city … It’s a great job, and there’s so much inspiration for wanting to do a great job. 

“We didn’t get off to a great start (3-14), but we’re going to build something here that the fans can be proud of. I’m positive of that.”


“You’ll see yourselves in some of the characters”

Nick Brooks, whose second novel “Promise Boys” is a young-adult best-seller, visited Leo on Friday, Feb. 10 and discussed how the book came about at an all-school assembly.

The plot centers around the murder of the principal at Urban Promise, a Washington, D.C., charter school. Three students of color are immediately viewed as suspects because they had been resistant to the principal’s oppressive approach to discipline. It occurs to them that solving the crime is their best chance to avoid being charged with it.

Brooks told the Leo students he drew heavily on his six years as an inner-city educator in his native D.C. “I was researching the book and I didn’t know I was researching it,” he said. “Working and interacting with at-risk kids is where my knowledge and inspiration comes from. You’ll see yourselves in some of the characters. 

“I saw too many incidents of teachers and staff trying to break down young men rather than build them up,” he added. “They seemed oblivious to the damage they were doing.” 

Brooks said he considers himself a storyteller rather than simply an author. After he left teaching, he graduated from the University of Southern California’s TV and Film Production program and has produced and directed two short films, one of which, “Bee,” was honored at the American Black Film Festival.

He also produces and performs hip-hop music under the name Ben Kenobe.

Promise Boys, Brooks said, “is not just a murder mystery. There’s a strong social element to it. I’m trying to use art to create social change.”

Encouraged by his mother and some teachers to keep a journal recording what was going on around him, and how he felt about it, Brooks said he discovered early on that he wanted to be a writer. “And here I am, standing in front of you.”

He urged the Leo students to follow his example. “Whatever is in your heart, I want to encourage you to pursue it,” he  said. “If I can do it, I believe anybody in this room can do it.”

The early buzz around Promise Boys has sparked interest among TV and film production companies, Brooks said. “Would any of you like a role in the movie?”

Every hand in the room shot up. It was pretty clear Nick Brooks had made an impression.   


“Speak out … and seek solutions”

Ja’Mal Green, at 27 the youngest candidate in Chicago’s crowded mayoral race, visited Leo on Thursday, Feb. 16. He spoke to the journalism and social-studies classes.

Green grew up in Auburn Gresham, just east of Leo on 76th Street, and he knows the Leo story. He told the students he was their age or younger when he began his career as a community organizer/activist, and he’s been “stirring it up” ever since.

“If there’s a situation that bothers you or doesn’t seem fair, speak out—but also seek solutions,” he said. “When I found out Chase Bank was engaged in exclusionary lending practices, I went after them and kept after them. I was banned from every Chase branch in the city, probably the country. But eventually they agreed to provide a billion dollars in mortgage loans for underserved communities on the South and West Sides that they had purposely been neglecting.”

Green said he is not in favor of defunding the police, but he does support a reallocation of police funds to provide better mental health training for officers,  since many of the offenders they encounter are dealing with mental health issues.  

He said the overall city budget should be reconfigured to provide more affordable housing and an assurance of cleaner air and water. He believes lower property taxes would help halt the exodus of Chicago residents to the suburbs and beyond.

 “Chicago has been and should be a great city, one of the world’s greatest,” he said. “When I’m elected—not if, but when—it will be once again.”  


“Tell the stories of people in my city”

Glenn Marshall, street reporter for the WGN Morning News, addressed an all-school assembly at Leo on Thursday, Feb. 23.

Marshall, a native of Matteson, IL., graduated from Rich South High School and Northern Illinois University. He said he jumped at the chance to return to Chicago after previous career stops in Springfield, Boston and Atlanta.

“To be able to tell the stories of my people in my city … I couldn’t pass that up,” he told the students. “There are plenty of Black women, but you don’t see too many Black males on TV in this market. That’s one reason why I feel an obligation to do it well and get it right. I want to be an inspiration to young brothers like you.”

Marshall acknowledged encountering racism at certain junctures of his career, particularly in Boston. “There was a news director who made it pretty clear he didn’t like the way I looked or the way I sounded—now why would that be?” he recalled. “Fortunately, he got fired before I left. 

“But there was a lesson in it. You have to put in the work and be so good at your job that they can’t question your qualifications.”

The Morning News airs from 4 to 10 a.m. and is WGN’s highest-rated program. Marshall feels fortunate to be part of it. The biggest drawback to the job, he said, is “the crazy hours—I’m usually in bed by 6:30 p.m. so I can be up by 2 a.m. for a conference call on what stories we should cover.”

Too often, he said, they involve guns and violence on the city’s streets, which wears on him. Marshall said he was particularly mortified by the murder of a 10-year-old and a 13-year-old, allegedly by their accomplices in a gun-shop robbery, who sought to silence the youngsters before they could tell what they knew. 

“First off, that kids that young could be caught up in gang-banging is a tragedy unto itself,” he said. “But to have those two young lives taken before they had a chance to experience any kind of life … It breaks your heart.”

The ultimate Leo Man has taken his leave of the Leo Community

Andrew J. McKenna, a graduate with Leo’s Class of 1947 and one of the school’s strongest and most loyal supporters, died in his Winnetka home on Tuesday, Feb. 7, surrounded by his large and loving family. He was 93.

Mr. McKenna was known as “Andy” to his friends, as “Cubby” to his 24 grandchildren and as “the Chairman” to fellow business and civic leaders, in deference to his penchant for winding up as the head of virtually every organization with which he involved himself.

Mr. McKenna truly was one of the most influential power brokers in Chicago history, a pillar within the city’s business, civic, philanthropic and sports communities for more than a half-century. He served as board chairman for such noteworthy institutions as the University of Notre Dame, McDonald’s Corp. and both the Chicago White Sox and the Chicago Cubs.

And yet, Leo High School always held a place in Mr. McKenna’s heart, from his days as an honor student, senior class president and sports editor of The Oriole, the school newspaper. 

“I am equal parts saddened and stunned by Andy’s death,” said Leo President Dan McGrath, a longtime friend of Mr. McKenna. “I thought, or I should say I hoped, he would live forever. We have not had a better friend.

“I wouldn’t think of making a significant decision without running it by Andy first,” McGrath added. “He was probably the wisest, most clear-thinking individual I have ever known, and also the nicest. Leo High School is forever indebted to him. The world is a lesser place today.” 

In 2016, Leo held its first Scholarship Benefit to celebrate its 90-year anniversary, and to fund tuition assistance for deserving students who were increasing in number as Leo’s enrollment grew. Mr. McKenna agreed to accept the first Leo Lions Legacy Award as recognition for his lifetime of service to others. 

With a who’s who of Chicago dignitaries in attendance at the Four Seasons Hotel, more than $2 million was raised for the Leo High School Scholarship Fund. The Benefit has become an annual event, and with Mr. McKenna’s continued support, it is Leo’s No. 1 fundraising vehicle.

“His whole life has been about investing in others,” Cardinal Blase Cupich said in delivering the Benefit invocation. “Tonight we have a visible way of seeing how that investment has promise of paying great dividends in the future.”

Mr. McKenna’s leadership touched all manner of Chicago institutions, ranging from the Chicago Bears to the Lyric Opera. 

• He is the only man to have served as chairman of Chicago’s two major league baseball teams, literally saving the White Sox for Chicago when the team seemed headed for Seattle after the 1975 season. The Cubs on his watch ended a 39-year postseason drought by winning a National League East division title in 1984. 

• He served 12 years as Chairman of the Board of Trustees at the University of Notre Dame, his alma mater, and 16 years as Chairman of the Board of Directors at McDonald’s, the international fast-food giant.

• Lurie Children’s Hospital, United Way of Metropolitan Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry are among the many civic entities to which Mr. McKenna devoted his time, treasure and talent. He was one of four co-founders of the Big Shoulders Fund.  

And yet, he always found time for Leo.

“A lot of the values I still adhere to today date to my time at Leo,” Mr. McKenna told an interviewer in 2019. ““Ambition, responsibility, work ethic, time management … I don’t know that I could have got more out of high school.”

At the Scholarship Benefit, Mr. McKenna recalled taking three streetcars from his South Shore home to Leo every day, but he said he was well-served by the experience. He urged the young Lions in attendance to follow his example.

“The world is yearning for young men like you, and the opportunities are enormous. Show up. Get involved. Stick with it.”

This quote is a succinct summation of his definition of a life well lived, which his most assuredly was:

“At the end of life, I think the measure of success is not how much you’ve got, but how much you’ve given.

“Not how much you’ve earned, but how much you’ve returned.

“Not how much you’ve won, but how much you’ve done.”

Mr. McKenna’s wife of 66 years, Joan preceded him in death in 2019. Survivors include seven grown children, 24 grandchildren, 16 great-grandchildren … and a grateful city.

Facta Non Verba—Deeds Not Words. It was not just a school motto to Andy McKenna. It was a way of life. 

Dan McGrath

Bill Holland Alumni Night

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By Dan McGrath

The scoreboard didn’t cooperate, but it hardly mattered to the near-capacity crowd that turned out at Leo for Bill Holland Alumni Night on Friday, January 20.

Leo’s Alumni Association sponsors a basketball outing each season. The Mt. Carmel game was chosen for this year’s event, and it was dedicated to the memory of Bill Holland ’73, whose death in June from a heart attack hit all of us in Leo Community like a punch to the stomach.

Bill was the Class of ’73 valedictorian, student body president and football captain—a quintessential Leo Man. And he didn’t stop being the quintessential Leo Man as an alum—he served on the school’s Advisory Board, he was an active, engaged member of the Alumni Association, he was a regular at pretty much every Leo event that was held.

“Other than his family and his many friends, I don’t know of anything that meant more to Bill than his association with Leo,” his wife Cathy said.

With that in mind, Bill’s family and friends decided to fund a Leo scholarship in his name. “Seed money” came from in-lieu-of-flowers donations received during the wake and funeral. Contributions continued to roll in after the services, enough to fund a full scholarship for a former junior high student of Bill’s teacher/daughter Colleen—the young Leo Man is currently a sophomore, and his tuition will be covered for the remainder of his time here. 

Additional funding came from a share of Alumni Night gate receipts and the sale of commemorative T-shirts. In all, more than $12,000 has been raised, so there will be two Bill Holland Scholars walking the halls of Leo beginning next year.

“Bill would be so proud,” Cathy Holland told the crowd as she and daughters Colleen, Mary Kate and Patty were recognized pregame, along with Bill’s grandson Connor, who offered a “Go Leo!” exhortation. 

“That he’s able to continue doing things for Leo after he left us … it’s just amazing.”

Bill Holland was an amazing guy. We thank his family and friends for their thoughtful generosity. 

From Leo Valedictorian to Rock Star E.V.

Congratulations Edward!

“Talented guitarist Edward Vaughn V hails from Chicago’s South Side and went from a rocket science degree to rock star dreams.

Born and raised in Englewood, considered a tough Chicago neighborhood, Edward, aka ‘Rockstar E.V.’ graduated valedictorian from Leo Catholic High School.

He recently visited the school to talk to the students about his journey.

“I’m from the block, I’m not hood, but at the end of the day I’m from the block, so don’t let any of that stop you,” he said.”