Hundreds of people interested in the future of Catholic education in Northeast Ohio attended a talk by Leo P. Hyland, president of Cleveland Central Catholic High School, on Sept. 6 at the monthly meeting of the First Friday Club of Cleveland. About two dozen students and staff from the school also attended the program at The City Club of Cleveland.
After an introduction by Cleveland Bishop Nelson J. Perez, Hyland shared the story of Cleveland Central Catholic and the tremendous effect of a Catholic education on the lives of students. He thanked the students, staff and school supporters who he said make Central Catholic such a special place.
Cleveland Central Catholic is “an amazing high school. It is an important ministry in the Diocese of Cleveland and it does a great service for our city,” Hyland said. He went on to trace the history of Catholic education in the United States and of Cleveland Central High School.
“Catholic education is a process of holistic development strengthening each person’s unique gifts and talents to grow spiritually, academically, physically and personally,” Hyland said. “It takes a real commitment to stay focused on all those all the time. But it matters. It is the difference between our schools and other schools,” he added.
“Catholic education also offers, in a diverse community, opportunities to inspire social justice, compassion, respect for the dignity of others and an appreciation for and celebration of differences. These qualities are evident at Central Catholic and we are in dire need of more of this in our society,” Hyland said.
He provided impressive graduation rate statistics for Cleveland Central Catholic, noting that in 2018, 100 percent of the student population graduated. Over the last six years, the graduation rate averaged 99 percent and 85-90 percent of these students went on to college.
In his introductory remarks, Bishop Perez spoke of his visit to the school earlier this year and a particular point he made – something he asked the students to remember. At the luncheon, the bishop asked students seated his table if they could recall what he had said during his visit. One student, who said she remembered, was invited to the stage where she recited the advice: “Never, ever underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit working in you, through you and despite you.”
Hyland, who has more than 20 years of experience in education, joined Cleveland Central Catholic in 2010. An alumnus of Ohio University with a Bachelor of Science degree in communications, he earned a master’s degree in management of nonprofit organizations from Case Western Reserve University.
Cleveland Central Catholic High School, a diocesan coeducational school, is located on Cleveland’s Southeast Side. It focuses on college and career readiness and its mission is to challenge and encourage students to excel academically, to deepen their faith in God and to live a life of service so they can face the future with confidence and hope.