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placeholder January 19, 2015   •   VOL. 53, NO. 2   •   Oakland, CA
Catholic Schools Week

Keeping education accessible
prime commitment for De La Salle

Scott Hugo, De La Salle High School class of 2005, a Rhodes Scholar, addresses a scholarship fundraising dinner in 2014.
De La Salle High School/COURTESY PHOTO

Scott Hugo, a De La Salle High School alumnus of 2005, never needed financial aid in high school. And yet, as he recently told donors at a fundraising dinner, he benefited from it anyway. As he explained, his friend and teammate Terrance Kelly, class of 2004, was able to attend De La Salle only because of generous financial aid. "If Terrance Kelly had never received financial aid, our paths would not have crossed. And I would be a different person — a lesser person — today."

Scott was from Alamo; Terrance was from Richmond; they met at De La Salle. "In our society, we rarely interact with people from other walks of life," Scott said. "But, as my Religious Studies teacher John McDonough would tell us, life is about love and connections. Financial aid at De La Salle helps forge love and connections across the divides in our society. Financial aid collapses the physical and psychological distance to bring individuals together. The lessons that are learned and the connections that are formed are priceless. For me, one of those connections was Terrance Kelly."

Today Scott is a UCLA graduate, a Rhodes Scholar, and a Harvard law student. His friend Terrance is memorialized in the school's Terrance Kelly '04 Endowed Memorial Fund for Financial Aid. In August 2004, Kelly was a day away from leaving for the University of Oregon when he was gunned down in his hometown, a tragedy dramatized in the movie "When the Game Stands Tall."

Hugo recounts that when applying to Oregon Kelly wrote, "A solid education can lead to self-improvement as well as social and economic empowerment." Hugo agrees: "A De La Salle education is a life-altering opportunity. That opportunity should not only be for those who are fortunate enough to grow up in the families that can afford it. It is De La Salle's commitment to accessibility that makes it an elite institution, but not an elitist one."

School President Mark DeMarco, an alumnus of 1978, agrees. "Accessibility is one of our primary commitments," says DeMarco. "We keep tuition as low as possible. And we keep tuition increases as small as possible. In the past six years, the increases in tuition at De La Salle have averaged only 2.7 percent per year. And we provide substantial financial assistance. For the current year, it is more than $2.4 million, which goes to more than 30 percent of our families — but we know there are more who need it. This year, tuition and fees total just over $16,000, which is a stretch for most families and is well beyond the reach of many. That's why the very first focus of our new 50th Anniversary Capital Campaign is on 'Access' for all students, and our goal is to add $15 million to our endowment for financial aid."

Complete information on financial aid, and on the De La Salle 50th Anniversary Capital Campaign, focusing on Access, Academics, Arts, and Athletics, is on the school website www.dlsh.org.

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