St. Francis Prep honors armed service members
BY JENNA BAGCAL
St. Francis Preparatory School (SFP)
in Fresh Meadows welcomed veterans
and current service members to a special
Veterans Day celebration on Nov. 8.
The school honored service members
who were former SFP students or current
faculty members. The day’s activities
consisted of a Veteran’s Day-themed
curriculum where veterans spoke to students
in their social studies classes and a
presentation in the school’s auditorium.
According to St. Francis Prep Principal
Patrick McLaughlin, the school
reached out to its database of former
students to find those interested in participating.
In total, the school honored
11 veterans, nine of whom graduated
from the school, along with two faculty
The principal said that in addition to
honoring the veterans, the school also
wanted to show students how the values
they learn in high school can carry over
into the real world.
“When you look at St. Francis Prep,
we probably have the most diverse student
body in New York City. When you
try to bring that together under one umbrella,
that’s somewhat difficult to do but
it works well here because of the mission.
The mission of academic success,
the mission of spirituality, the mission of
St. Francis Prep in Fresh Meadows honored current and former service members.
Courtesy of St. Francis Preparatory School
integrity and the mission of success all
in one. I feel when they graduate, they’re
ready to step into a college situation but
beyond that, to step into the world as a
major contributor to people all over the
globe,” McLaughlin said.
One of the honorees was keynote
speaker and class of 1999 graduate
Jophiel Philips, A United States Air
Force JAG Major. Philips shared his
harrowing story of one of his tours in
Afghanistan when insurgents detonated
a car bomb near his military base.
The attack killed seven soldiers and left
Philips with traumatic brain injury and
First Sgt. Peter McKenna along Master
Sgt. George Vera ran into the barrage
of bullets from the insurgents raiding the
camp. Philips shared that although he
and McKenna did not always get along,
his sacrifice saved Philips’ life.
“That selfless dedication that they
showed to me, that courage, we need for
you to show it right here in the United
States of America.”
St. Francis Prep also welcomed back
two members of the class of 2016, Leonard
Legagneur and Jonathan Ally, who
joined the United States Marine Corps
after graduating. The pair shared that
coming back to their alma mater felt like
“It feels amazing. I miss this place, I
miss the people here and now that they
see me, they see the uniform and they’re
like, ‘Wow, he made it. He’s become who
he wanted to be,'” said Ally.
“It hasn’t been too long so it still does
feel like home. I feel right back where I
was three years ago. It feels good to be
back,” added Legagneur.
Legagneur shared that he carried
what he learned at school with him during
his next phase in life.
“For us, the Marine Corps values are
honor, courage and commitment. That
goes hand-in-hand with exactly what
we learned at St. Francis Prep,” said
Reach reporter Jenna Bagcal by email
at email@example.com or by phone at
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TIMESLEDGER,8 NOV. 15-21, 2019 QNS.COM