Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson addresses VASJ students

Frank G. Jackson, mayor of Cleveland, fielded a wide variety of questions from students at an all-school assembly at Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School (VASJ) on Thursday, November 29.

Student Council President Dominic Nicholas moderated the assembly. Among numerous special guests were Cleveland Councilman Mike Polensek, who represents the Collinwood community, and Sister Laura Bregar, OSU, principal of Our Lady of the Lake School in Euclid.

In a wide-ranging exchange with students, the mayor spoke of his personal background, the motivating factors that led him to pursue a life of public service, and his philosophy of leadership. Through it all, the mayor stressed the vital importance of education.

“Education is the key to success,” the mayor said. “The challenge is to follow the map that will get you where you need to be.”

To that end, he spoke of the recently approved levy for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District. The 15-mill tax, the first operating levy for the district to pass since 1996, puts steps in motion to improve the quality of education in Cleveland. The levy was supported by His Excellency Richard Lennon, Bishop of Cleveland.

Pointing out that the levy will expire in four years, the mayor acknowledged that he and school officials will be held accountable because voters will not renew it if insufficient gains are made.

“If there was a recurring them in the mayor’s remarks, it was that leaders must take responsibility,” said VASJ President Richard Osborne. “He said life is about decisions and following through.”

The assembly began with the posting of colors by the Viking Honor Guard, freshmen Liam Staunton, Jacob Stauffer and Jayson Johnson. The Pledge of Allegiance was led by Senior Class President Trashay Harris.

The mayor’s visit to VASJ followed two recent occasions in which he received VASJ visitors to his City Hall office. Last March, the mayor greeted a group of VASJ students and 12 Japanese visitors from Hachinohe St. Ursula High School in Japan. In October, he met with VASJ visitors along with Roman Kirn, ambassador from the Republic of Slovenia, who spoke at VASJ as part of the school’s Our World Today program.

Mayor Jackson lives in Cleveland’s Central neighborhood, where he grew up. He graduated from Cleveland Public Schools and served in the U.S. Army. After returning to Cleveland, he earned an associate’s degree from Cuyahoga Community College and his bachelor’s degree, master’s degree and law degree from Cleveland State University.

He began his public service career as an assistant city prosecutor in the Cleveland Municipal Court Clerk’s Office. From 1990 through 2005, Jackson represented Cleveland’s 5th Ward on Cleveland City Council. From 2002-2005, Jackson also served as president of Cleveland City Council.

Jackson began his tenure as mayor of Cleveland in January 2006.

Villa Angela-St. Joseph High School is a Catholic, comprehensive, co-educational high school committed to academic excellence and the development of student gifts. With a college preparatory curriculum rooted in Ursuline and Marianist core values of education, service, justice and diversity, VASJ strives to bring each student to a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ and Gospel values.