Location: Providence, RI
Students: 1,511 young men and women, grades 7-12
Facutly & Staff: 170
Mascot: The Rams
La Salle Academy had its beginnings in 1871 as an elementary school for boys in downtown Providence. The school served the boys of the Cathedral and Saint John parishes and was staffed by a diocesan priest, a layman, and three De La Salle Christian Brothers. The school became known as the “Brothers’ School” and was renamed La Salle Academy when its status was changed from an elementary school to an academy.
The early years were ones of happy growth and steady expansion. As the school gained a reputation for its outstanding educational program, the building at the intersection of Broadway and Fountain Street could no longer accommodate the demand. The Bishop of Providence authorized the building of a new school closer to the city limits. The present structure was dedicated on September 21, 1925. The La Salle name was not lost in downtown Providence, however, for the major intersection near the site of the old school is familiar to Rhode Islanders as “La Salle Square.”
The new building saw notable achievement in many areas. The band and drama programs flourished. Athletic programs, especially football, hockey, and track were widely acclaimed. And La Salle began to see numbers of its graduates achieve prominence in the Church, in education, in government, in business, and in the arts.
In 1983 the Bishop of Providence announced a plan which merged La Salle Academy with St. Mary Academy of the Visitation and St. Patrick High School, two all-girls schools. Six years later, in 1989, another significant development occurred: the governance of the school was transferred from the Diocese of Providence to a newly formed, independent, non-profit corporation comprising six De La Salle Christian Brothers, which has full authority over the management and operation of the Academy.
Recent developments have included the establishment of a transition program for students who need a closely monitored program in the development of academic success; PEGASUS 7/8 Program for gifted seventh and eighth-graders and the matching PEGASUS 9-12 Program for gifted high school students; the McLaughlin Athletic Center (2000); the Brother Michael McKenery Arts Center (2000); and the Shea Science and Student Center (2004). In 1991 the U.S. Department of Education designated La Salle Academy as a Blue Ribbon Exemplary School.
The Freshman Transition Program is an “Essential and Guided Learning Experience” for students who need extra attention in order to maximize their performance. Instruction is focused on strategies for developing the essential skills necessary to succeed in a college preparatory high school. Small classes ensure individual and personalized attention as well as provide an avenue for positive encouragement through affirmation of individual strengths and constructive criticism of weaknesses. The expectation of the program is that the student will develop a level of self-confidence and self-esteem that will bring about a lasting improvement in academic performance.
In addition to the Freshmen Transition Program, La Salle also created the Academic Resource Center, to provide support to students who are struggling with academic success at La Salle. This support manifests itself in the form of coaching, mentoring, and tutoring students to realize their potential as productive and creative individuals in a Catholic learning community. In addition to the daily challenges of meeting these students needs, La Salle is committed to researching and identifying the underlying causes of student difficulty in the regular classroom environment so that we can work with our teachers and counselors to enhance the students’ experience of the school and their own education.
La Salle Academy is committed to bringing the Arts to the community and bringing the community to the Arts. We provide many, varied arts projects to our community including Arts Alive!, a joint venture of the Providence Catholic Elementary Schools, Sophia Academy, The San Miguel School and La Salle. The purpose of this program is to share arts resources and facilities. La Salle offers Saturday classes in Dance, Drama, Music, Poetry and the Visual Arts.
The Fall Tour brings drama, music and dance performances to middle schools throughout Rhode Island. La Salle Summer Touring Theatre mounts two Children’s Theatre pieces each summer for children ages 4-12. This touring troupe brings productions to many agencies around the state and is committed to working with economically disadvantaged children.
In early October, La Salle Academy offered a viewing of the film Dying to Live in celebration of the International Lasallian Days of Peace. Students from Lasallian Youth and Academic Support led prayer and icebreakers. The film explores the conflict, pain, and hope for migrants along the US-Mexico border. The film itself, which draws on the insights of Pulitzer Prize winning photographers, theologians, congressional leaders, and immigrants themselves, explores why so many leave their homes and what they face on the dangerous journey to the U.S.
The true success of La Salle Academy has been the graduates who have contributed to their communities and have remained faithful to the Gospel values of faith, hope, and love: values nurtured, perhaps even acquired, at La Salle. La Salle’s graduates can be found across the globe. They include five bishops, many brothers and priests, a Nobel laureate, Pulitzer Prize winners, an Attorney General of the United States, United States Senators and Representatives, and Governors of the State of Rhode Island. However, the greatest successes of all occur when La Salle reaches the children of the “working classes and the poor,” remaining faithful to the vision of the Founder.