Albany, NY – In May 2017, youth participated in the second consecutive tie-dying activity as part of LaSalle Albany’s Founder’s Week. And, again for the second year, our African twinning school will benefit from all the twists and turns taken during these two activities.

Planning for Founder’s Week at LaSalle School in Albany, NY is no small task . Each day of the week is intended to teach youth about the person responsible for LaSalle School’s origins: St. John Baptist de La Salle.

A celebrant of the men, women and children around him, St. LaSalle sought to meet the most basic needs of those around him that were in need of special assistance. At LaSalle Albany, each day of Founder’s Week has a particular theme with activities designed for youth to make a journey similar to St. LaSalle’s but in the 21st century!!

In May 2016, an idea was suggested for our boys to tie-dye one shirt for themselves and another that would be sent to our African twinning school along with handwritten notes personally congratulating each member of their graduating class. Sounded like fun but how would students learn about St. LaSalle’s life of service to others? To answer this question, the committee considered the ’12 virtues of a good teacher’ that St. LaSalle listed in his Conduct of the Christian Schools (written in 1706). Three virtues jumped out immediately! Tie-dying t-shirts would require patience to bunch the shirts and make tight knots taking care not to break the rubber bands and need to start over. With humility, the youth would have to accept their finished shirts as their best effort whether or not the swirls and starbursts came out as they had hoped. Finally, the generosity of giving of themselves to make the African graduates happy was something they could all take pleasure in.

So, the decision was made to go ahead and transform the student dining room into an art and dye center for part of the day. Photos of their African counterparts decorated the walls and windows. Rubber bands and white t-shirts with the words I AM LASALLIAN printed in block letters on the front side were distributed. Staff and board members assisted youth to tie their shirts. Staff dunked shirts in containers of blue dye thoroughly soaking and ringing them out before placing them on a tarp for the color to set and then machine wash.

All told, some 50 LaSalle youth participated. In turn, 50 shirts were mailed to Marsabit, Kenya as gifts to the 2016 graduating class of St. Paul’s Secondary School. LaSalle youth proudly wore their shirts the entire summer and beyond! With a big grin on his face, one student kept saying ‘I love this shirt!!’

The very same process happened again a few weeks ago for the 2017 Founder’s Week. The only difference was that students learned about sponsorship and how to engage in service work for others. Several staff members chose to sponsor a student-made shirt and have their contributions be mailed to St. Paul’s in Marsabit. When all sponsorships were collected, they totaled $500.00. WOW!!