Posted 02/21/2014 11:09AM
On Sunday, February 16, the Girard College community lost one of its giants. Richard “Rick” Leek passed away at home with his wife, Cindy Miller Leek.
Rick taught social studies to Girard Middle and Upper School students since his arrival in 1988 and began to teach sixth grade in the fall of 2012. Additionally, he coached track and cross-country for most of his Girard career, so his influence on our students, staff and the institution was broad and deep.
“Mr. Leek was more than my high school government teacher, more than a track coach,” said alumna Tanaya Lloyd ’08, long jump and triple jump state champ in 2008. “He was the grand pop I've never had who always wanted what was best for me.”
Rick Leek was a sports fanatic. He loved all sports and would watch just about any athletic competition on TV. In his younger days, he loved to play golf and had recently started to play again. As a coach, he amassed an excellent record and inspired his athletes to reach for the top. In 2012, the Girard College Alumni Association inducted him into their Sports Hall of Fame, the first teacher to be honored with that recognition.
“Girard was in his heart, and he was woven into the fabric that is Girard College,” said Tony Schiavo ’59. “I will miss him every time I look up at the balcony of the Armory or pass the track where so many of his athletes grew under his guidance and especially his care.”
His passion for all things Girard was undeniable, and his impact on decades of students is clear.
“For so many, Mr. Leek fulfilled Stephen Girard's vision of being more than just a teacher,” said Anwar Nasir ’02. “To every person behind those walls, he was a father figure. He mentored, coached, disciplined, educated and encouraged all whom he encountered.”
Students did not have to be on one of his successful teams to benefit from his life lessons. All of his students can attest to the familiar mantra posted in his classroom: “Don't Lie, Don't Cheat, Don't Steal.”
“Rick had a profound effect on his colleagues as well as students,” said Kevin Giorno, fifth-grade teacher. “He was my first real friend at Girard, and he became my mentor, a relationship I valued greatly.”
“Rick was a man of integrity,” said Cindy Leek. “We knew each other for years before we got married because he wanted to pay off his college loans before the wedding.”
Talking about her husband of 23 years, Cindy remarked on Rick’s personality, shaped in part by parents who taught him that challenges – such as his lifelong difficulty with cataracts – should not keep him from achieving his goals.
“He rose above his own struggles and grew into a positive, personable guy who knew how to read people and how to reach them in just the right way,” she said. “If they needed a push, he gave it to them without hurting their feelings.”
Cindy shared information about Rick that might not be obvious in class or on the track.
Rick had eclectic taste in music (“from opera to Jimmy Hendrix”), traveled extensively (“he loved Rome, Spain and Paris”), was an only child (“his family consists of very close friends who have been in his life since grade school, high school and college”) and was well versed in many different religions.
“He was very spiritual,” she said. “Rick loved getting to know the differences between people and then bringing them together to see their similarities.”
He was also very generous. Numerous individuals recall sneakers or college text books that Rick paid for but would never take credit for.
Over the past several days, there have been hundreds of conversations – in hallways, on Facebook, in his home – about Rick and his role in the lives of so many, many people. The most comman theme is how much he loved Girard College and his students.
“Rick always said Girard provided a great opportunity to influence lives for the better,” Cindy said. “He’d say, ‘There is no place like it.’”
And, in the same spirit, everyone in the Girard College family would reply, “There is no one like YOU, Mr. Leek.”
Rest in Peace.
2012 TEACHING AWARD
Philadelphia Mayor Nutter Named Leek one of 3 Best Teachers in the City, June 2012
RECENT COACHING ACCOMPLISHMENTS
2013 Boys Track Team, Penn-Jersey Champions
2013 K. Twyman - 2nd Place State Indoor Track Long Jump
CAREER COACHING ACCOMPLISHMENTS
6 District One Track and Field Titles
2 State Track and Field second place finishes
4 State Triple Jump Champions
2 Long Jump State Champions
1 4x400 meter relay State Champion team
Bicentennial Coach of the Year 2011
2012 Inductee to Girard College Athletic Hall of Fame
Steering Committee District One Track and Field
Executive Committee Pennsylvania Track and Field Coaches Association.
Games Committee District One Championships
Official Pennsylvania State Indoor Track and Field Association
Read the obituary in the Philly.com
FUNERAL ARRANGEMENTS for Sunday, February 23
Contact the GCAA regarding donations to the Richard Leek Memorial Fund.
Posted 01/23/2014 04:13PM
Seven students were inducted into NHS
Seven students were inducted into the Girard College National Honor Society (NHS) chapter on Friday, January 17. They are seniors Xhonia R., Gabrielle C., Tommy E.; and juniors Jaesohn M., Charles B., Christopher M. and Meckell S. They join Brandon D. (grade 11); the only remaining NHS member in this chapter.
Speaker Mary Ellen McMonigle Ph.D. congratulated the students and gave the Upper School audience a quiz on "WHO IS YOUR HERO?" Following the Chapel, the students and their families returned to the president's residence for a reception.
NHS students are honored for character, scholarship, leadership, service and citizenship.
Congratulations to all!
Posted 12/20/2013 02:01PM
GIRARD SENIOR SCORES 1,000th POINT
On Thursday, December 12, basketball phenom G’Mrice D. scored her 1,000th point in a game against Kohelet Yeshiva High School.
G'Mrice went into the home game with 987 high school career points, so friends, family and teammates were rooting for the big event to occur. When she scored her 1,000th point, the game was momentarily halted while coach and players rushed out to congratulate her.
The final score of this game was Girard 56 Kohelet Yeshiva 6. The team record to date is 3-3.
G'Mrice made news recently when she signed a letter of intent with Fordham University where she will play D-1 basketball next year. She was granted a full NCAA scholarship.
PICTURED: Above left: G'Mrice makes her 1,000th point basket. Above right: Proud mother Lisa Caple congratulated G'Mrice for scoring her 1,000th career point.
Posted 12/10/2013 09:45AM
Snow Day Means Fun and Beauty at Girard College
Although the 2012-13 winter season produced virtually no snow, this winter has already proven to be dramatically different. Today's snowstorm is the second in three days and has turned our campus into a winter wonderland.
Sunday's snowstorm kept our students from returning to school at the usual time, but today's snow was timed just right to cancel classes and turn the already beautiful buildings and grounds into a wet, white playground. Miss Woodie's sixth graders are among many boys and girls who are enjoying one of the joys of childhood: fun in the snow!
Posted 11/13/2013 04:51PM
GIRARD STUDENTS HOLD "VETERANS APPRECIATION DAY"
On Friday, November 8, Girard College Upper School, the Valley Forge Military Academy and the Girard College Alumni Association co-hosted a Veterans Appreciation Day on the campus of Girard College.
The purpose of the event was to allow students and other members of the community to thank veterans for their sacrifices and service to our country.
About a dozen veterans were treated as honored guests, each receiving a certificate of appreciation from the students as well as a standing ovation at the end of a brief assembly. Immediately afterwards, each veteran spent time in classrooms talking more directly and personally to students in grades 7 to 12.
Our visitors enjoyed lunch with students in the school cafeteria and were invited to tour historic Founder's Hall.
Posted 11/11/2013 02:22PM
Girard College Fair is Thursday
Girard College hosted a College Fair for its Upper School students on Thursday, November 14 from 8:30-11:30 a.m. Representatives from more than 40 colleges, universities and three branches of the armed services were available to talk to Girard students in grades 9 through 12 about their post-high school plans.
Girard promotes a strong college-bound culture. Approximately 98 percent of Girard College graduates go on to higher education, and all students have the opportunity to best position themselves for post-secondary educational and career pursuits.
The College Fair is just one piece of the college guidance program that supports the school's mission to prepare scholarship students for advanced education and life as informed, ethical and productive citizens.
The schools that were represented are
- Albright College
- Art Institute of Philadelphia
- Bryn Athen
- Bryn Mawr College
- Cabrini College
- California University of Pennsylvania
- Cedar Crest College
- Chestnut Hill College
- Community College of Philadelphia
- Fairleigh Dickinson University
- Franklin and Marshall College
- Gettysburg College
- Gwynedd-Mercy College
- Harcum College
- Holy Family University
- Indiana University of Pennsylvania
- Kutztown University of Pennsylvania
- Lincoln Tech
- Manor College
- Moore College of Art and Design
- Neumann University
- Rowan University
- Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey at Camden
- Saint Joseph's University
- Salisbury University
- Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania
- Smith College
- St Vincent
- St. John's University - Queens Campus
- Temple University
- University of Chicago
- University of the Sciences in Philadelphia
- US Navy
- Valley Forge Military College
- Villanova University
- Virginia Commonwealth University
- West Chester University of Pennsylvania
- Widener University
- Wilson College
Posted 10/30/2013 04:13PM
FOUNDER'S HALL WINDOW COMMITTEE BEGINS HISTORIC PROJECT
The Founder's Hall window committee met on Wednesday, October 30, to kick-off a project to restore eight 165-year-old windows on the east side of the first floor.
The committee members are, left to right: Scott Kreilick, Kreilick Conservation, L.L. C.; Jeffrey R. Barr, sub-contractor to Kreilick, a restoration carpenter; Elizabeth Laurent, Director of Historic Resources, Girard College; Clinton Walters, Assistant Controller, Girard Estate; Jon Newton ’56, Chair of the Founder's Keepers committee; and Richard Pavoni, Manager of Campus Operations, Girard College.
This project is supported jointly by a Keystone Historic Preservation grant from the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission and by the GCAA’s (Girard College Alumni Association) “Founder’s Keepers” fund.
The Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission’s 2013 Keystone grants were awarded to assist historical and heritage organizations, museums, and local governments in 20 counties. The $25,000 grant to Founder’s Hall was one of 15 grants awarded at the maximum level and is one of only three grants awarded to Philadelphia sites. The “Founder’s Keepers” fund has provided generous matching dollars to restore as many windows as possible at this time.
The window project is guided by an integrated series of planning documents, culminating in a plan that is specific to Founder’s Hall window preservation, by architect Joseph Sorrentino, Jr., of Vitetta (2008). It is one of an ongoing series of preservation initiatives for Girard’s iconic National Historic Landmark building. These initiatives assure Founder’s Hall can continue to serve the school community, partner with neighboring community organizations and remain open to the general public as a national treasure.
Posted 10/23/2013 02:36PM
Girard College Participates in Philly Photo Day
In early October, Philadelphia Photo Arts Center invited anyone in Philadelphia to take a photo on October 18 for submission to their annual "Philly Photo Day" project.
All submissions will be printed and exhibited at Philadelphia Photo Arts Center between November 14 and December 28. A select few will be made into billboards around the city. Together, the thousands of photos they gather will chronicle a day in the life of Philadelphia.
The entire school community got together on the steps of Founder's Hall early on the 18th to create a photo that includes everyone and also features an historic Philadelphia landmark. Smaller group photos were taken during the day and submitted as well.
Make sure you look for the Girard images when you visit the photo exhibit at 1400 N. American St., #103, Philadelphia.
For more photos of "life at Girard," check out our Photo Galleries on this website.
PHOTO CREDITS: Keith Steininger (top) Brian Penecale (bottom).
Posted 08/01/2013 03:44PM
HOW I SPENT MY SUMMER VACATION
… postcards from Girard College students
All over the U.S., summer break offers students and staff an opportunity to rest and recharge. Typically, family vacations and summer jobs consume time and provide distraction from school-year concerns.
Having passed summer’s “halfway point” (yes, the 12-week summer break was half over on July 26), I thought I’d check in with some of our students to see if they have done anything unusual. Several Girard College students have been in touch, and their experiences have been anything BUT typical!
— Polly Mitchell, Director of Communicaitons
(P.S. If you are a Girard student and have a good summer story to share, contact me!)
CYCLING IN EUROPE
John C. - grade 11
For several years, the Cadence Cycling Foundation (CCF) has been a partner of Girard College, working with our students via the sport of cycling. One of our most active and successful cyclists is Junior John C., and this summer John became CCF's first cyclist to race and ride in Europe.
He is part of the Mid-Atlantic Junior Cycling team that consists of kids ages 12-17, and they are racing in Denmark. John and his teammates compete against cyclists who are their age as well as senior and professional riders up to about age 30 including some who competed in the Tour De France. Coming over as an
international rider, John must race against the "top" cyclists even if it is not an age-specific race; not all races have "junior" events.
The young team also benefits from international racers who serve as mentors and share their own cycling stories.
The primary goal of the international experience is cultural exchange. CCF organizers expect that John’s racing skills will improve, but, more importantly, that he will see and appreciate other cultures and will want to continue to travel and learn about the world. He is, of course, making life long friends from this trip as well.
CAPTION: John C poses on campus during his freshman year.
VICTORY AT LAW CAMP
Brandon D. grade 11
Junior Brandon D. carried a school year experience over into the summer months when he attended the National Bar Association’s Crump Law Camp.
During his sophomore year, Brandon served as timer for Girard’s successful Mock Trial team and liked it enough that he plans to participate as an active team member and team captain next year. One of the volunteer coaches, attorney Nolan Atkinson, suggested that Brandon apply to the Law Camp.
The Law Camp is designed to provide high school students with an enjoyable and comprehensive introduction to the challenges of a legal education. Since only 10 percent of the nation's lawyers are people of color, the primary goal of the Law Camp is to encourage students of color to improve their grades in high school, attend college and enter law school. The National Bar Association (NBA) partners with Howard University School of Law and uses its campus and dorms for the camp.
Brandon spent 10 days working with about 34 other high school-aged students who either had Mock Trial experience or were simply interested in law careers. They learned about the law from the point of view of prosecution and defense and worked as 2-person teams on a fictional case. The Mock Trial competition occurred during last two days of camp. The students were judged as individuals, rather than teams, and Brandon advanced steadily. At the very end, the students competed solo, and four finalists emerged ... including Brandon!
These four students were then invited to attend the NBA convention in Florida where the final competition/trial took place. The winner, of course, was our own Brandon who was awarded a laptop and a college scholarship! Congratulations!
Brandon gained additional experiences while at Law Camp. The entire group went on field trips to meet lawyers in various organizations and hear about their jobs. These trips included Microsoft and the NFL Players Association.
CAPTION: Brandon D. was timer for Girard's victorious 2012-13 Mock Trial team.
LEARNING AND GROWING AT SUMMER CAMP
Georgie S., Lanelle Q. and Tyra G. – recent graduates, Class of 2013
For more than 20 years, Girard College has benefitted from a warm relationship with the directors of Camp Susquehannock, a traditional
sports and adventure-activities camp in Brackney, Pa., not far from Binghamton, N.Y. Founded in 1905, Susquehannock has had many generations of campers from all walks of life and now boasts alumni who live all over the United States and the world.
The relationship with Girard is particularly comfortable because Susquehannock’s program is designed to engender self-reliance, self-confidence, sportsmanship and leadership, a great match to the Core Values of Girard College. Without a doubt, Camp Susquehannock has furthered the personal development of Girard College students who attend each summer.
This year, three Girard grads are at Camp Susquehannock: Georgie S. (11 years at camp), Tyra G. (first year at camp) and Lanelle Q. (fourth year at camp).
“We are proud of all three Girard counselors this year, but particularly of Georgie S.,” says camp director Cannie Shafer, who is coincidentally Girard’s Lower School Academic Dean. “She started as a seven-year-old camper and returned every year, completing the Leader-in-Training season, the Counselor-in-Training season, the Junior Counselor season and is now a full fledged counselor!”
CAPTION: L to R are Georgie S., Tyra G., Shafer and Lanelle Q.
TEACHING ENGLISH IN SPAIN
Charles B. grade 11
On the advice of a friend, Charles applied for a program called Diverbo, a volunteer English language immersion program for Spanish students. He had to pay for his own airfare, but housing, food and travel within the country were all covered by the program.
“It was great!” Charles said. “I met other teenagers from so many countries, made new friends, and helped the Spanish kids to improve their English.”
Charles spent about 10 days in Spain, along with students from countries such as England, Ireland, Switzerland and Scotland who all spoke English to their
native Spanish counterparts, ages 14-17. He enjoyed the setting, a thousand year-old village named Aldeaduero situated in the Salto de Saucelle, a beautiful area that runs along the borders of Spain and Portugal.
“The only thing I didn’t like was the food,” he said. “It was sort of like camp food.”
The English-speaking volunteers also enjoyed two days as tourists in Madrid, where the food was much better and the beautiful buildings are “mind-blowing.”
Charles plans to maintain his new friendships via Facebook and e-mail. He hopes to gain acceptance to the University of Pennsylvania to study nursing and health-care management.
CAPTION: Charles made new friends, including Tamzin from England.
BUILDING A GREENHOUSE IN ECUADOR
Jaesohn M., grade 11
Summer 2013, Stage I: Ecuador
One of about 16 teenagers who volunteered with Lifeworks International, Jaesohn M. worked in Ecuador for three weeks. Lifeworks offers global programs for teens that combine community service with cultural immersion, travel and outdoor adventure.
“It was a great chance to visit another country, to do some good work, and to add something unusual to my college applications,” Jaesohn said.
He also made friends with other students who came from France, Chile, Egypt and China, and who collaborated on numerous projects. In Quito, they painted an elementary school and built a greenhouse. In the Amazon, they removed non-native, invasive lilies from the river.
The accommodations were far from luxurious.
“We stayed in eco-lodges,” he said. “They had limited electricity, no Internet connections and composting toilets.”
Back in Philadelphia, Jaesohn is getting ready for two more trips.
Stage II: Harvard
Jaesohn will attend a week-long leadership program sponsored by People to People.
Stage III: University of California, Berkeley
His final adventure will take Jaesohn to University of California, Berkeley for a LEAD Summer Engineering Institute.
After high school, he hopes to continue learning and growing. I can’t wait to hear from him!
CAPTION: Left, Jaesohn helps to move materials for the new greenhouse. Right, he plays with one of the local children.