| Catholic Schools Week
The Baldacci family: Kevin, Michael, Tom, Brenda, Tommy and Matthew, after Christmas Mass at Saint Mary's College in Moraga.
Generations find value in Catholic education
In some families red hair is "passed down" from father to son to grandson. Or maybe the china set that your family only uses on special occasions can be traced back five generations. Or perhaps you, your dad and nephew are stuck with your great-grandfather's nose.
If your family has traditionally attended the same high school from generation to generation, yours is a "legacy" family.
When Thomas "Tom" Baldacci decided to attend De La Salle High School in Concord in the mid-1970s, he did it knowing that his father had attended Catholic school back east because he valued the education he received there. Baldacci sent his four sons — Kevin '06, Michael '07, Tommy '09 and Matthew '12 — to DLS because he found value in the education and community there.
"It is a good institution," said Baldacci who graduated from DLS in 1977. He noted that he met a lot of his closest friends in high school. "They are friends for life," he said.
Baldacci wanted his sons to go to DLS because "I wanted them to experience and understand the spirituality in life," he said. "It was fulfilling to see them turn into the men they are now."
After graduating from DLS, all of his sons went to college. His youngest son is currently a student at a Christian school in Texas.
Three generations in Gail Rodrigues' family are graduates of St. Joseph Notre Dame High School — her father John Sousa '47; son, Stephen Rodrigues '99; and daughter Jennifer Rodrigues '96. Even her daughter-in-law, Crystal Rizzuto Rodrigues '01, is a graduate of the school.
Rodrigues said that her dad, John Sousa, attended the all-boys school, then called St. Joseph High School. Years later the two single-sex schools merged into one co-educational school in 1985.
When her mother suggested that she consider going to Notre Dame High, Gail Rodrigues '70 admitted that the then all-girl high school wasn't her first choice. Two schools — Bishop O'Dowd and St. Elizabeth, both in Oakland — were considered to be the "schools of choice" at the time (1966), Rodrigues recalled. She went along with her mom and went to NDHS on the condition that after two years she would be able to go to one of the "choice" schools. At first she didn't like it, but decided to give it a chance. She started to love the school before the first year was out, and she stayed.
In fact Rodrigues loved it so much that she really didn't leave. She was immediately hired to work at the school after her high school graduation. She was there when her children enrolled in SJND. During the day she was Mrs. Rodrigues to her kids and was "mom" after school.
"I had the best of both worlds," she said I could see how they were doing and watch them grow."
Today Rodrigues is still an algebra teacher in SJND's math department, but if it looks like her grandchildren decided to go to the high school, she might consider leaving.
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