La Salle Academy's first graduating class

June 24, 2008 7:50:48 PM PDT
It is the first graduating class for La Salle Academy, an independent Catholic school that is a model for schools across the country. There are only 15 eighth graders in this graduating class, but their aspirations are many. For all of them, this special environment has been an immensely positive change in their lives.

"My friends are like family to me and I really care about them," Derek Rodriguez said.

La Salle Academy opened in 2003 to address the needs of underprivileged children in St. Michael's parish. Cost increases and declining enrollment made it impossible to keep the parish grade school open in 1999.

Sister Jeanne McGowan said the support that helped turn a convent into a successful independent Catholic school has been remarkable and it will continue.

After a few final adjustments to their gowns from Principal Teresa Diamond and a farewell card and gift for their teacher, Mary MacGillivary, they crossed the threshold to their future.

Action News anchor Rick Williams offered words of encouragement and La Salle's graduating class of 2008 will savor the memories.

With an extended class day, from 8 to 5, and longer school year, with scores of volunteers, and heaping helpings of dedication and commitment, La Salle Academy has been able to fulfill the promise of St. Jean Baptiste de LaSalle.

The religious scholar said, "you can make miracles by touching the hearts of children."