PROVIDENCE — When La Salle Academy began planning in 2018 for the celebration of its sesquicentennial during the 2020-2021 school year no one could have predicted that the grand plans would have to be put on hold for a year as the world dealt with the COVID-19 pandemic.
But in October 2021 those plans were finally put into motion, with Bishop Thomas J. Tobin celebrating a well-attended Mass at the Cathedral of SS. Peter and Paul for the La Salle community that served as the opening celebration of the school’s 150th anniversary.
“It’s not unfair to say that La Salle Academy has had a significant, positive impact and influence on the state of Rhode Island, with alumni serving as government officials, people in medicine, people in education, people in religious life — priests and Christian brothers in particular. La Salle has touched all corners of the state and beyond,” said Vice President of Institutional Advancement Tom Glavin.
The finale to the sesquicentennial celebration is scheduled for April 23 when La Salle Academy will host a gala evening at the Rhode Island Convention Center.
The fun-filled event will begin with a cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m., during which guests will mingle among two prominently displayed 10-foot-wide collages, one created for the 125th anniversary and the second for the 150th created with various pieces of La Salle memorabilia.
While guests reminisce, they will be able to enjoy samples of delicacies produced by local restaurants with a connection to the school alumni, parents or friends, during The Taste of La Salle. The La Salle Academy Jazz Ensemble will be playing during the cocktail hour as rotating video boards display various photographs.
Dinner begins in the ballroom at 6:30 p.m., with a short speaking program planned. WPRI-12 anchor Mike Montecalvo, Class of ’80, will serve as master of ceremonies, and video presentations and DJ Corey Young will entertain the expected crowd of about 600 and counting.
Diocesan Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia Msgr. Albert A. Kenney, a former chaplain at La Salle, will provide the invocation before dinner, and Auxiliary Bishop Robert C. Evans will be in attendance, Glavin said.
Glavin, a Class of ’70 graduate himself, serves as co-chair of the event along with Athletic Director Vincent P. McGinn III, Class of ’97.
“We were asked by Brother Tom Gerrow, F.SC., the previous president, to plan this event back in 2018. We’re finally able to complete our original plan, but later than we anticipated,” Glavin said.
“The grand celebration was always planned to be the major focus and capstone of 150th anniversary. It will be an interesting mix of alumni, students, parents and friends. We’re very excited and happy to finally bring this momentous occasion to a nice crescendo.”
Following the Opening Mass in October, La Salle continued to mark its 150th anniversary in numerous ways.
La Salle inducted nine new members into its Hall of Fame in November.
On the sports front, La Salle won its 150th anniversary football game against Cumberland High School with 1,600 spectators in the stands, including former players and cheerleaders.
Most of the boys and girls sports teams over the season had one 150th anniversary game, and each of the uniforms for that game were adorned with the LSA 150 logo patch.
“We’ve had a lot of activity throughout the year,” Glavin said. “On Saturday, March 26, we had a very significant and successful Day of Service. We had over 125 volunteers who worked at six different sites, performing various tasks, including St. Edward’s Food Pantry, Sophia Academy and San Miguel School.”
Among the honored guests will be Sen. Jack Reed, Class of ’67. Sen Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania, Class of 1980, has also been invited.
“From Rhode Island, out of 100 U.S. senators, two of them are La Salle Academy graduates,” Glavin said proudly.
La Salle had humble beginnings in a building on Fountain Street known as “The Brothers’ School,” in recognition of the three Christian Brothers who arrived in Providence in 1871 to operate a school under the values of St. John Baptist de la Salle. One of those founders, Brother Ptolemy (Dandurand), became the school’s first principal.
Five years later, in 1876, deeply impressed by the Brothers’ commitment to provide local young men with a high quality Lasallian education, Bishop Thomas Hendricken, the first bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, honored that commitment by naming the school La Salle Academy.
“There’s a lot to celebrate. Just like the diocese is celebrating this year, La Salle’s sesquicentennial, or 150th anniversary, is quite a milestone,” Glavin said.
“We will be recognizing in some form the fact that La Salle Academy came about through the visionary appeals of previous bishops, originally from the diocese of Hartford that eventually became the Diocese of Providence. That’s a fact we recognize.”
Tickets to La Salle Academy’s 150th anniversary celebration on April 23 in the Rhode Island Convention Center ballroom are still available. To buy tickets, visit www.lasalle-academy.org/150gala, or contact Patricia Clark at 401-351-7500 ext. 138, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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