Lasalle High School

Years Active: 1963-1998

Plans for the construction and opening of LaSalle High School began in 1960. Until that time, there had been only one high school, St. Patrick High School, which had served the Catholic students on the west side of Cedar Rapids since 1892. With the growing population, the facilities of St. Patrick became too small for the number of students enrolled. Archbishop Leo Binz commissioned the pastors of the area to take the necessary steps to provide for Catholic secondary education for the students of the area parishes.

Pastors present were the following: Rev. J. Robert McDonald of St. Patrick, Cedar Rapids; Rev. Albert L. Zachar of St. Ludmila; Rev. Bernard L. White of St. Patrick, Fairfax; Rev. Donald P. Heineman of Holy Trinity, Walford; and Rev. Joseph E. Krocheski of St. Michael, Norway, whose parish chose not to participate. At that time, St. Jude Parish was still in the organizational stages and did not yet have a pastor named. It was first decided to open a school for boys as a second high school on the west side, while retaining St. Patrick High School strictly for girls. Some months later, the decision was made to build LaSalle High School as a co-institutional school, and construction began in the fall of 1963.

The new school opened on September 16, 1963, two weeks after the other high schools in Cedar Rapids had begun classes. At that time only the academic section of the school was completed, but the gymnasium, cafeteria, library, locker rooms, and faculty residence area were completed by the end of Christmas vacation that year.

LaSalle High School, the first completely air-conditioned school in the state of Iowa, was built for a million dollars by the five parishes: St. Patrick, St. Ludmila and St. Jude, Cedar Rapids; St. Patrick, Fairfax; and Holy Trinity, Walford. Organized as a co-institutional school, the boys were taught by the Christian Brothers of the St. Louis Province; the girls were taught by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, from Dubuque, and the Sisters of Notre Dame, from Omaha. Brother Josephus Slyer was the first principal. Assistant principal for boys was Brother Baldwin McEnery, while Sister Mary Clarona Frommell, BVM, was the assistant principal in charge of the girls.

The co-institutional organization was quickly modified, with homerooms, religion and physical education classes remaining all-boy or all-girl until the early 1970’s. By 1975 LaSalle High School was totally co-educational.

LaSalle High School was accredited by the State of Iowa from its beginning and received North Central Association Accreditation in later years. The Christian Brothers remained at LaSalle High School for seven years until 1970. As their numbers began to dwindle, the decision was made to withdraw, and the administration of the school shifted to diocesan priests. The School Sisters of Notre Dame continued to serve on the faculty until 1997. The BVM Sisters remained until the school closed in 1998.

In 1991 Jeff Henderson was named the first lay principal, and in 1993 he was named chief administrator of LaSalle and Regis High Schools. The school boards were combined into one board the following year. When LaSalle High School opened in 1963, the enrollment recorded was 405 students. The highest enrollment was 473 for the 1975-76 school year. Enrollment steadily declined until the early 1990’s when the all-time low of 220 was reached. In the 1980’s and 1990’s a recurring theme surfaced that “Cedar Rapids should have only one Catholic high school.”After many meetings with the people of Cedar Rapids and their parish leaders, the decision was made in February, l996, to combine LaSalle and Regis into one school, Xavier High School. The merger took place in 1998.

Over two thousand students graduated from LaSalle High School and excelled in many professions. Many National Merit Scholars and a Rhodes Scholar were among those who graduated from LaSalle. There were outstanding accomplishments in sports including: state football championships, state wrestling champions, three-time state girls tennis single champion, appearances at state tournaments in basketball, baseball, softball, track; participation in All-State Music (both vocal and band) and outstanding success in speech and drama.

An important aspect of LaSalle High School was service in the community, mainly in aid to the elderly, food for the poor, assistance to homeless women, and tutoring. The thirty-five years of LaSalle High School history were a tremendous tribute to the faith and willingness to sacrifice on the part of the parishioners of the five participating parishes.

Source: Monsignor Thomas E. Toale, Ph. D. (2001). Go Forth and Teach: Continuing the Challenge. Dubuque, IA - Iowa: Loras College Press. Archdiocese of Dubuque.

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