Every Heart and Hand by Patrick Hickey

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This is the greatest story never told. The guys who attended Leo High School are too busy doing ,to have time to do any telling. The story of the support for a school that everyone but Leo Men predicted would close or should be closed is a great Chicago story, a great Catholic story, a great human story, and a real American story.

Not having graduated from Leo High School, I am free to make a big deal of what goes on at 79th & Sangamon on the south side of Chicago. Leo High School is situated in an African American neighborhood, Auburn Gresham, but receives no active support from the black community beyond black graduates of this school. Generations of white Catholic men actively support a school that they attended, in order to help young black, mostly non-Catholic young men. None of their grand children or sons attend Leo, but they actively invest hundreds of thousands of dollars annually. These same supporters have been cast as ‘white flight bigots’ by academics, journalists, and even some religious. Mopes that hurl that charge go unanswered too often. Our people support Leo out of love for their fellow man – the same motivation that built the Catholic Church in Chicago. Without the support of Leo’s Alumni, white and black, thousands of young men would not have the opportunity to succeed beyond the streets. Since 1991, 93% of all Leo graduates have gone on to Purdue, University of Chicago, Boston College, West Point, Northwestern, Loyola, DePaul, Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Michigan State to name a few. Others like Lonnie Newman ’02, deferred college scholarships for the trades. Lonnie Newman, Class Valedictorian turned down six scholarships to join Pipe-fitters Local 597. No student is turned away from Leo High School – most students score below the 40th percentile on the entrance exam, but after four years of hard work and commitment go on to some of the best schools in America.

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