Pasadena’s La Salle College Preparatory, the private Catholic, co-educational, college preparatory high school that draws its philosophy and traditions from the teachings of Saint John Baptist de La Salle, recently held its annual Crystal Ball Award and Scholarship Dinner to raise money in support of scholarships and initiatives ahead of their grand opening for two new innovation centers.
“The Crystal Ball event is a fundraising event, and a lot of that money goes to San Miguel students, which is the mission part of our ability to draw kids at that live below the poverty line,” La Salle president Perry Martin said. “It’s one thing to put a big tuition out there and try to create the value for it, but it’s another thing to make sure we work with families who need help. So, 5% of our population comes from that group and this is just one fundraiser that supports that mission.”
La Salle has held their Crystal Ball Award for the past 18 years, serving as a symbol of service to the community, particularly during times of need. In the spirt of bringing people together in the wake of hardship, the theme for this year’s event was “Together We Shine,” a celebration of the school’s commitment to diversity, inclusion and unity as the strains of the pandemic begin to ease.
“We’ve been apart for so long with Covid, and we’re not a school that is used to not being fully invested with everybody,” Martin explained. “So, we recognize that we are shining this year. We’re a school on the rise and it’s only because of leadership, parents, students and employees. Everybody just made a tremendous turn coming out of Covid.”
As an instrumental voice that helped navigate La Salle’s recovery during the pandemic, Board of Regents member Gina Zhang was named this year’s Crystal Ball honoree for her actions as a leader during the pandemic and her work towards cultural consciousness and education.
According to Martin, Zhang played a key role in helping new families of Asian descent, including families who had recently immigrated to the United States, become more familiar with the school and its practices.
“Language plays a little bit of a role in how you understand the school, but I’m a real believer that we shouldn’t put up barriers,” Martin said. “Our school needs to be fully understood by everybody, so Gina’s been really helpful in developing a committee that goes out in this community and makes sure that they understand what’s going on in the school, regardless of how much English they speak or how much English they don’t speak.
“We’re trying to connect with our community more and more through different various student events and clubs, but also professionally from my office. We’re trying to collaborate with different universities and hospitals that blend in with some of the nuances that we’re putting together with our centers of innovation. We’re making a really strong effort to get our kids prepared to go to some of the best universities through these partnerships, as well as a lot of service projects that we do too. We want our kids to be able to give back and we want them to give back from the heart.”
La Salle has also begun work on their new Centers of Academic Excellence, which will give students the opportunity to explore their passions and forge career paths out of the skills they enjoy. For example, the center for medical innovation will use virtual reality to help students learn vital healthcare skills. The technology will allow students the chance to simulate real-world situations, such as responding to the scene of a fire where people are burned, a case of frostbite on the summit of Mount Everest or a life-threatening injury in an emergency room, all from the comfort and safety of a virtual space.
“It’s an incredible way to learn medical health skills, especially at a time when we’re losing people in healthcare,” Martin said.
The second center will focus on global initiatives and cultural perspectives, teaching students new skills in dialogue and collaboration around topics like world peace or humanitarian crises. By utilizing the global network of Lasallian schools, La Salle’s students would also be able to travel and study abroad to gain in-person experience.
“These centers are simply where kids go at the end of the day, not to rest, but because they’re passionate,” Martin said. “They can do a lot of great things and not know they’re working hard, so passion plays a huge role in it.”
The two centers are set to open at the start of the coming school year as La Salle continues to look to the future with optimistic and innovative eyes.
La Salle College Preparatory
WHERE: 3880 E Sierra Madre Boulevard, Pasadena