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President of Cleveland Central Catholic High School - First Friday Club of Cleveland

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     On Thursday, September 6th, our first event was a "First Friday Club" luncheon in which Mr. Leo Hyland, President of the Cleveland Central Catholic High School (CCC), spoke about what a privilege it is for him to be involved at CCC as well as the history and the benefits of Catholic education in the United States.

     In his biography posted on the "First Friday Club" website, Mr. Hyland stated that "my immediate family (2 parents and 12 siblings) have an accumulated 188 years of Catholic formal education. In addition, my wife and two sons have a combined 44 years-that's 232 years total. Needless to say, we believe in the power of Catholic education!" 

     During his presentation, Mr. Hyland shared with us the fact that Catholic education has been present in the United States before it became a country; one can trace back the founding of the Ursuline School in New Orleans to 1737, years before the Declaration of Independence. He noted that people who immigrated to the United States often set up a school in their parish even before they built the church because they respected the value of education.

     Turning to these times, Mr. Hyland spoke of the genesis of CCC, which now is located on Broadway Avenue in Slavic Village, and its close relationship with the nearby St. Stanislaus Parish, where chapel services are held, and the Third Federal Foundation, which has been a consistent supporter over the years. 

     In a letter which appears on the CCC website, Mr. Hyland, who has been its president now for nine years, wrote, "at Central Catholic, diversity is a real strength of our community. We are one family in Christ, regardless of gender, race, or religion. We work together to foster a culture that respects human dignity, develops personal responsibility, and provides education for our students to learn, serve and lead..."
(see https://www.centralcatholichs.org/about-central-catholic/)

     Indeed, CCC is a great asset to the Cleveland community since, even though the academia was challenging,  it enjoyed a consistent graduation rate of at least 99% over the last few years but in 2018 the graduation rate reached 100% and 86.4% of the graduates were accepted into college. This is pretty amazing considering the fact that in 2018 it served 550 students with 92% of these living in Cleveland, 85% living at the federal poverty level and 67% coming from single parent families. What's more, and this is a testament to its integrity and social commitment, some 80% of its student body are NOT of the Catholic faith.

     Before the program started, we talked to Mr. Hyland as well as Sister Allison Marie Gusdanovic, SND, who is the principal at CCC, about foreign-born students who attend CCC. We learned that the yearly number is small but quite potent and many of these are refugees. Both spoke with gentle caring about the Wadesisi family who came to Cleveland as refugees from the Congo; 10 of its children have attended CCC over the years and last year a young woman named Tatu was first in her class and is now attending CWRU.

    Also present at the luncheon on this day was Bishop Nelson Perez who offered the closing words in which he said that it was truly remarkable that in the span of just a few years Miss Tatu Wadesisi could go from being an occupant of a refugee camp to being a CCC honor graduate and then a student at CWRU! 

    This was in no small part due to what was said by one student in a film about CCC that offered various testimonials. The student said that Cleveland Central Catholic High School  offered "a loving community" and subsequently, "we all have each other's backs."

Justin Faulhaber