March 26, 2020
Dear Friends of La Salle,
March 26, 1848, exactly 172 years ago today, was the date Father Annet Lafont, the pastor of St. Vincent De Paul Parish on Canal Street, wrote to Brother Phillipe, the Superior General of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, who was in France. The pastor wanted Brothers to “teach the boys of the poor in my French congregation.” By September, four of them had crossed the Atlantic and the roots of our La Salle Academy were planted in lower Manhattan!
Through a Civil War, two World Wars, and other skirmishes and disruptions, La Salle Academy stayed true to its commitment to teaching immigrants and the sons of immigrants. The current pandemic is another in the series of challenges that cause us to focus on our mission while rethinking how best to stay the course.
Our paradigm for schooling has veered in a new and unexpected direction over these last two weeks. The leadership of our Principal, Ms. Kerry Conroy, and our Assistant Principal for Academic Affairs, Mr. Matt Stark, successfully rallied our teachers to exercise their creativity, tap the tools of technology, and work harder than ever. In an email received yesterday, the parents of a ninth grader noted, “The swiftness of your actions, the mobilization and commitment of the entire La Salle team to implement contingency plans to avoid academic teaching disruptions is outstanding. We greatly appreciate the professionalism with which you handled this unique situation.”
While we are pleased with the success of our remote learning modality, a major concern has begun to surface. We are at risk of losing some revenue because the year’s final tuition payment is due next month and the parents of many of our students have lost their jobs or have been furloughed. The intent of this year’s Easter appeal is to procure the funds we need in this extraordinary time for ordinary expenses. My thanks to those who have contributed already. If you have not, I invite you to do so by clicking here. (Checks sent in the mail are still welcome, but because our staff is working from home, processing will be delayed.)
La Salle Academy is characterized by resilient and hopeful people, as Saint John Baptist de La Salle counseled a Brother in one of his letters, “Do not be disheartened by the difficulties you experience” (Letter 90). We stand in solidarity, as we have for 172 years, confident of God’s care for us.
Brother Thomas P. Casey, FSC