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2011 Feasibility Study Background Statement

 

Our History

De La Salle High School is a Catholic school for boys, founded in 1965 by the Brothers of the Christian Schools (the De La Salle Christian Brothers). Our roots go back to 17th‐century France and the founder of the Brothers, Saint John Baptist de La Salle, and we are members of the global family of Lasallian schools that now serves nearly a million students in more than eighty countries. Lasallian educators are student‐centered, both supporting and challenging students as they become mature, responsible members of their society and their church. De La Salle High School helps students to develop the qualities of intellect and character that will allow them to live lives of achievement and service. To this end, we work together as a learning community—the teachers and administrators and coaches, the students and their parents and extended families, and the many devoted friends and supporters of this educational mission.

It is a mission of proven effectiveness. De La Salle now has more than 8,000 alumni, all over the world, working in a myriad of professions, serving others in varied ways. As boys, they came from many social and economic backgrounds, and now they pursue a wide array of vocations, having been able to build their lives upon the solid foundation of a De La Salle education. We are gratified to know that so many men have benefited from the Spartan Brotherhood, have embodied the De La Salle values of “faith, integrity, and scholarship,” and are living out the Lasallian motto “Enter to Learn, Leave to Serve.” Many, in fact, have returned here to serve: Two dozen alumni currently work at the school as faculty or staff, dozens more act in a volunteer capacity as coaches and mentors and helpers; hundreds more are generous and reliable donors, and many alumni fathers are sending their own sons to De La Salle. As it looks toward its 50th anniversary in 2015, De La Salle High School has become an integral and increasingly valued part of the local educational landscape. Applicants for admission are consistently double the number of available seats; the graduating classes are 98 percent college‐bound; and the strong tradition of service among our students and staff has benefited countless local and regional service groups. De La Salle’s theatrical, musical, cultural, and sporting events are popular, its fundraising events are well attended, and the School has received regional and national recognition for its excellence in several areas. Our focused outreach to lower-income families has brought into the Spartan Brotherhood many boys for whom a De La Salle education and preparation for college would otherwise have been out of reach. Our history is one of persistent devotion to our mission resulting in verifiable success in serving the genuine needs of the young people of Contra Costa County.

 

Our Mission

De La Salle High School is a Roman Catholic educational community where students are loved, instructed, and guided, in a Lasallian tradition of education that has more than three centuries of experience in discerning and addressing the genuine educational needs of students. The school helps young men to develop spiritually, academically, physically, and socially through the promotion of a vital faith life, strong academic programs, a wide range of activities in the arts, culture, and recreation, and many opportunities for the service of others.

In an environment that is moral, caring and joyful, the school affirms the dignity of each of its students as an individual. The school welcomes boys with varied academic needs and of diverse social, cultural, and economic backgrounds. Our goal is to prepare all students for a full and rich life after high school, including a successful preparation for and transition to higher education. Our academic requirements meet or exceed the admissions requirements of public and private university systems nationwide, and our college counseling department is well staffed and highly trained. Students take an array of required courses, with a full complement of electives, and have many Advanced Placement and Honors courses available. Among the required courses are four years of Religious Studies.

These classes, and our dynamic Campus Ministry office, with its activities, liturgies, and student retreats, combine to give students a firm knowledge of the Catholic faith, an appreciation of other faith traditions, and many opportunities to advance on their own spiritual journeys. In keeping with the Catholic Church’s “preferential option for the poor,” De La Salle encourages students in the habit of serving those in need, and offers a variety of service‐oriented activities that enrich our students’ educational experience while meeting real needs in the community. Service learning projects are designed to develop students’ sense of social and personal responsibility, increase their understanding of the conditions that warrant service, and challenge them to recognize their potential as agents of social change.

Briefly stated, our mission is to offer every student enrolled at our school, whatever his financial or personal situation may be, the chance to develop into a De La Salle graduate, because, as it says on the portal of the Kenneth H. Hofmann Student Center, beneath which our students and faculty walk every day, “A De La Salle Graduate is a Man of Faith, Integrity, and Scholarship.”

 

The Future of De La Salle

De La Salle has consistently distinguished itself as a school that provides the highest quality educational environment for its students, and we continuously assess how we are fulfilling our commitment in that regard. Several years ago we made a major investment in facilities improvement, creating the Kenneth H. Hofmann Student Center with the generous support of Ken Hofmann and many members of the De La Salle community. This superb facility has truly become the heart of the school community and has proved its value many times. Building upon that experience, and after careful consideration, De La Salle is contemplating a new campaign that would be designed to raise significant capital for two vital purposes. One: to secure a financial aid endowment that will assure access to this school for all qualified students. Two: to bring our science and technology facilities and our performing arts facility up to the standard of excellence that our students deserve.


Goal One: Assuring Access Through Financial Aid

Our Lasallian commitment is to serve students who seek a De La Salle education, regardless of their economic background. We have seen firsthand how the De La Salle experience has changed the lives of young men, and it is vital that access to our schools’ challenging academic program and co‐curricular opportunities is provided for all qualified students. Our financial aid recipients come from a wide variety of families who demonstrate financial need. Carefully considering the circumstances of our students, the need for increasing monetary resources for two financial aid endowments has been identified. First, we need to make it a priority to fund students enrolled in our Bishop John S. Cummins Scholarship Program. Second, we need to increase availability of general financial aid resources to students from a broad spectrum of financial backgrounds throughout our community. Substantial endowments will be essential to our success, as principal amounts will be carefully invested and a portion of the annual earnings distributed as financial aid. In this way, the endowments should grow to help secure funding for students in the future. Income from endowments will also enable De La Salle to mitigate the increasing need to raise annual tuition. As the cost of education rises, investments in our endowed funds will make it possible for De La Salle to keep the dream of a Catholic, Lasallian education open to low‐ and middle‐income families.


An Endowment for the

Bishop John S. Cummins Scholarship Program:

The Bishop John S. Cummins Scholarship Program provides the sons of families who are living at or below the federal poverty level an opportunity to experience the educational excellence offered at De La Salle. The program offers access to boys who demonstrate academic potetial and have expressed a strong desire to attend De La Salle. It provides financial support that goes beyond nearly full tuition assistance to ensure that these students and their families can engage in the full range of curricular and co‐curricular opportunities. It equips students with the tools to succeed by providing a learning environment that emphasizes religious and moral values, academic excellence, responsibility, and accountability. The measurable results of the Bishop Cummins Program have been superb, when expressed in grade‐point averages, co‐curricular activities, graduation rates, and college acceptances. Last year, all seniors enrolled in the program matriculated to college, many of them as the first in their families to do so.

An Endowment for General Financial Aid:

In the past decade the need for financial aid has risen dramatically, rising more than 300 percent, from a total of $500,000 in 2001 to more than $2.1 million in 2011. During the same period, the tuition that we charge has more than doubled, increasing from $6,985 per year in 2001 to $14,750 in 2011. Each year, the availability of financial aid is often the deciding factor for families who are considering their son’s future as a Spartan. Nearly 30 percent of our students now receive some form of financial aid, and substantially increasing the amount of renewable financial aid available has become a significant goal.
 

Goal Two: Improving Critical Facilities

De La Salle offers a rigorous, college‐preparatory educational experience, and in order to continue to deliver on our promise to educate Men of Scholarship as well as Men of Faith and Integrity, we must continue to improve our facilities. When our 19‐acre campus was created in 1965, an eventual enrollment of 800‐1000 students was anticipated. However, there is no way that the planners in the 1960s could have envisioned the size and complexity of facilities that a first‐rate college‐preparatory school would require to serve a thousand students well in the 21st century. In the tradition of consistently making optimal use of the space available on our campus and ensuring the safety of our students, De La Salle is developing plans to renovate existing spaces that are critical to our educational mission.

Science Wing Renovation

To improve classroom and teaching spaces to meet innovative new standards and requirements for science education today, this project incorporates the construction of a new science wing and the renovation and conversion of the existing science facilities. The increased space for teaching and learning will allow faculty to continue to deliver exceptional core programming as well as expand elective offerings related to the study and exploration of science. After careful analysis, it was determined that it is more cost‐effective to construct a new building rather than simply renovate the existing space. In addition to the benefits of a new facility, this project will allow for the elimination of the portable classrooms on campus and the construction of restroom facilities adjacent to our athletic fields, and will expand our flexible teaching space for all curricular disciplines.
 

Brother Celestine Theatre Renovation:
De La Salle High School’s performing arts program has been highly regarded for decades. Our teachers, past and present, are phenomenal. Our students and alumni across the genres are incredibly talented. But, the facility that houses these works of art is in need of a retrofit and facelift. It was built as an auditorium in 1965, not as a theatre, and many of the projected improvements will transition the facility to a full‐purpose theatre while also allowing the theatre to be used for classroom and academic purposes.

Renovation is needed not only for programmatic purposes but also for seismic upgrades and to answer concerns about student safety. Preliminary plans inude upgrades to lighting, sound and acoustics, stage size, fly and wing space, storage areas for costumes and sets, ADA‐mandated access, the addition of fire sprinklers, and more.

We understand that our plans may take many years to fully realize but we are committed to the continued success of our students and believe this is the best path forward. We are eager to receive your feedback about our strategic plan through the Feasibility and Planning Study process.