They didn’t give awards for participation in the South Side Irish Parade on Sunday, March 12, but if they had, the Leo High School contingent would have been in the running for Most Welcome.

Leo gratefully accepted an invitation to march in the parade in recognition of its 90-year anniversary as a proud South Side institution. The Leo party consisted of about 30 students, alumni and friends of our school. Barney Janecki, an 88-year-old member of Leo’s Class of 1946, was an honored guest, and he accompanied the group for the entire 1 ½-mile trip down Western Avenue from 103rd to 115th streets.

Before the parade stepped off, the Leo delegation got a chance to meet Chris Kennedy, son of the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who is running for governor of Illinois.

Cheers, applause, and prideful shouts of, “My dad went to Leo!” or, “My grandfather went to Leo!” from the packed gallery greeted the Leo marchers as they moved down Western Ave. It was an unfamiliar setting for the Leo students, but not at all uncomfortable, and they truly appreciated how welcome they were made to feel.

“We’re truly grateful for the opportunity to take part in the South Side Irish Parade,” Leo President Dan McGrath said. “We have tons of alums and a proud history in this part of the city, and we wanted to convey the message that after 90 years, Leo is still going strong.”

Mission accomplished.