You’re Invited to Our STEM Family Night on October 7

Leo High School’s STEM Department invites you to our STEM Family Night on Thursday, October 7, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. in the Cafeteria.

Get ready for hands-on fun for the whole family including SCIENCE, TECHNOLOGY, ENGINEERING and MATH activities!

FREE Hot dogs, chips and popcorn.

• Get extra credit
• Make slime
• Fly a glider
• Build a boat

Principal Rawls named “Man of Excellence” by the Chicago Defender

Leo Principal Shaka Rawls has been recognized as a “Man of Excellence” by the Chicago Defender, one of the nation’s oldest and most influential Black news organizations.

The Defender’s Men of Excellence awards celebrate African-American men who “inspire others through excellence, vision, leadership, exceptional achievement and a commitment to empowerment in multiple ways.”  

Other Men of Excellence honorees for 2021 include ABC-7 TV personality Hosea Sanders, 18th Ward Alderman Derrick Curtis, Metropolitan Peace Initiatives Executive Director Vaughn Bryant and State Representative Kam Buckner, a South Side Democrat from Illinois’ 26th District.

Leo’s enrollment has increased by more than 60 percent since Principal Rawls arrived in 2016. Additionally, his leadership has enabled Leo to become a truly positive force in the Auburn-Gresham community through various service projects, such as a free meals program that helped feed hundreds of families  when the COVID pandemic was at its worst in the spring and summer of 2020. 

“Everything we do at Leo is a team effort, so I accept this award on behalf of the Leo team,” Mr. Rawls said. “Coming from an organization with the history and prestige of the Chicago Defender, it is truly an honor.” 

 The Defender cites Principal Rawls and his fellow honorees as “champions of empowerment and diversity, the backbone of religious and educational organizations and driving forces in politics and community service.”

They will be honored at a dinner on Friday, Aug. 27 at Haven Entertainment Center, 930 E. 43rd Street, beginning at 6 p.m. 

Baseball Facility at St. Rita Named for Jay Standring ’66

Leo great Jay Standring ’66 will remember 2021 as a year in which he was celebrated for a life well lived.

Last May, St. Rita High School recognized Standring’s 30-plus years of service as an ever-popular  coach, teacher and mentor by naming the freshman baseball facility in his honor—Jaybird Field. 

In September, and for largely the same reasons, Notre Dame’s Knute Rockne Foundation will honor 1970 ND grad Standring with a Knute Rockne Spirit of Sports Leadership Award.

“Knute Rockne did not believe sports should be an end in themselves,” the citation states. “Rather, he saw them as a means to achieving success in life, with the lessons learned on the playing field translating to determination, teamwork and character in real life.” 

Jay Standring embraced that philosophy during his playing career, and he has embodied it throughout his coaching/teaching  career. He began it shortly after graduating from Notre Dame, where he earned two letters, intercepted three passes and played on two Cotton Bowl teams under Coach Ara Parseghian, whom he viewed as a role model.

“Every coach I played for had an impact on my life, and I went into coaching hoping to give kids opportunities similar to the ones I had,” Standring said.

He currently coaches freshman football and baseball at St. Rita. He has always preferred working at the lower levels; in many cases he’s the first coach a young athlete encounters, and he goes out of his way to make sure the experience is a positive one. The Rockne Award surely proves that coaching has been a positive experience for Jay Standring.

“It was never about recognition,” he said, “but an award like this from Notre Dame, which will always hold a special place in my heart … I’ve had a great life.”

Leo Golf Outing the Largest in the Last Few Years

Clear skies, great weather, a sellout crowd, nice prizes, some good and some not-so-good golf … it all added up to tremendously successful golf outing for the Leo Alumni Association, which brought the event back to Gleneagles Golf Club on August 6 after a one-year, COVID-induced hiatus.  

A full complement of 288 golfers meant both Gleneagles courses were at max capacity for the 9 a.m. shotgun start. A handful of unregistered players who showed up were also allowed into the field, making it the largest for a Leo outing in the last few years.

Co-chairmen Dennis Barista ’74 and Scott Fulwiler ’74 are to be commended for skillfully and successfully managing the event down to its last detail.

The O’Malley foursome—Tom O’Malley Jr. and his son Ryan; Mike O’Malley and his son Mike Jr.—was the day’s big winner, shooting 10 under par in the scramble format. That was one stroke better than the 9 under carded by Jack Fitzgerald ’69, Phil Rogers, Jim Kennedy and Jim Earner, a 1973 Brother Rice grad who serves as Leo’s Business Manager …  and whose dad Gene is a noteworthy Leo graduate, along with six Earner brothers.

A raffle, a silent auction and a sitdown dinner featuring Gleneagles’ famed fried chicken wrapped up the day. Good golf or bad, a good time was had by all.

Leo Men Welcome Students to the First Day of School

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.


Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

On behalf of the Leo High School community, President McGrath and Principal Rawls, we are truly blessed to be in a position to provide some much-needed hope to our community. On Saturday, Aug. 7th, we served over 500 meals, handed out over 300 pieces of PPE, gave out over 500 backpacks, and distributed toys, footballs, baseballs, soccer balls and other athletic equipment to our community in just under 3 hours.  Nothing short of astounding!

This event took place at Leo High School, but was only possible through our partnerships with dozens of organizations and altogether over 50 volunteers. We were also blessed to receive considerable traction on social media and coverage from local media outlets (see attached video). Although we can take a moment to enjoy Saturday’s event, please know that there is much to be done in our community. As we often say here at Leo, Let’s Work!

Thanks to our partner organizations for their work in mobilizing their communities and providing considerable financial support for this event!

Facta non verba, Deeds not words

ALUMNI Join us for The First Day of School

Join Leo staff and alumni in greeting our students on OPENING DAY at 7 a.m., Thursday, August 19.

Principal Rawls Receives the Helen Dumas Excellence in Education Award

Principal Shaka Rawls’ extraordinary work at Leo continues to gain recognition from his peers in education.

Already honored as Principal of the Year for Cook County in February, Mr. Rawls was announced on July 2 as recipient of the first Helen Dumas Excellence in Education Award from the Faith Community of St. Sabina.

Helen Dumas was the long-serving Principal of St. Sabina Academy before stepping down two years ago. She remains involved with the school in the area of development. She is also a staunch advocate for the Auburn-Gresham community, particularly in the area of education … and a true friend to Leo High School.

“We’re pleased to have six young men from our Class of 2021 attending Leo,” she said. 

Mrs. Dumas acknowledged that in past years she was sometimes reluctant to recommend Leo to her male graduates because she had reservations about the school’s academic mission. “(But) you have truly turned the school around and are assisting young men to grow into responsible men as they continue their preparation to achieve their God-given purpose and destiny,” she told Mr. Rawls.

“Your commitment to the young men of Leo High School has truly made a difference in our community as well as in Catholic education and education in general.”

Mr. Rawls will receive the award at St. Sabina’s annual Brighter Futures Scholarship Benefit at St. Sabina on Saturday, Oct. 9. 

“This award is very special to me,” Mr. Rawls said. “First, because it recognizes Mrs. Helen Dumas, whom we all should strive to emulate as educators and as leaders. 

“And second, because it recognizes the long history between Leo and St. Sabina, which is a very special bond to all of us.”