Youth Lasallian Assembly: An Eye Opening Experience to Remember

"One Heart, One Commitment, One Life"


Dakota Canzano

I had the best week of my life in Moraga, California this summer, making lifelong connections that I will never forget. I spent seven days on the campus of St. Mary's with 17 other Lasallian schools from the District of México Norte and the San Francisco New Orleans district.

Dakota Canzano, Editor

It’s 4:00 am, my alarm is blaring, it’s still dark out, and my tennis shoes are lying beside the bed in my dorm. I am confused as to why my alarm went off because I never wake up early. But then I remind myself that I am committed to a hike to see the sunrise.

This is new for me. I was in the hills of Moraga, California as part of a Youth Lasallian Assembly, along with seventeen other students. This event took place at the campus of St. Mary’s College from June 23 to 28.

I am not an early riser. On the weekends, I’ll do anything to sleep in until noon just to catch up on rest. People who know me know that sleeping is one of my all-time favorite things.

After I turned off my pounding alarm, I threw on a windbreaker, a hoodie, some sweats and those shoes. I brought my Hydro Flask to stay hydrated. I was ready to go.

The hike at St. Mary’s beautiful campus was challenging. The hills were steep and rigid with rocks, and the trip to the “Tree of Life” wasn’t short.

On the way up, I had great conversations with my friends and classmates, including some I had never really talked to before. Immersing yourself in nature as everything around you is coming to life is such a powerful experience. It felt so refreshing to feel the morning air breeze as it hit my face and the wind blew through my hair.

I made it up to the top, and my panting turned into laughter. My tired eyes squinted as I smiled and caught the sun rising behind the hills and forest green trees. At the summit, there were other Lasallian students including one of my friends, Abby Baines, who was enjoying the moment. She was swinging from the tree with a smile on her face as she gazed out into the distance.


Dakota Canzano
Abby Baines taking in the morning breeze as the sun rises over the hills of Moraga, CA.

In that moment, I felt the world around me pause. I felt myself deeply connect and reflect with the stillness of nature. We were surrounded by natural beauty and it was such a surreal experience to be so high up looking down on the campus, white chapel and all of the trees below. Everything looked so small, but when we stood up on the hill we felt so tall.

We felt like we could conquer anything.

Towards the end of my sophomore year, I had applied to the Youth Lasallian Assembly which is a faith, service, and community trip through the school. We spent a week on the campus of St. Mary’s College. I had never gone on a trip with my school and didn’t know what to expect.

Saying ‘yes’ to this invitation was one of the best decisions of my life. YLA was planned as a celebration of the Lasallian schools and as a remembrance of the 300 years since Jean-Baptiste De La Salle’s passing. Eighteen students from La Salle, along with chaperones Lisa Daniels and Anastasia Mickelson, joined us on the trip. Lasallian schools from the District of México Norte and the San Francisco New Orleans district high schools were invited to the event.


Lisa Daniels
Senior Kyra Sanchez smiles as senior Hanna Ngyuen raps about La Salle for their school presentation.

During the seven days on campus, I spent a lot of time getting together with students from the other 17 schools. We got to know one another, served the community and came together to pray and reflect on the values that we share. Every day, we would get into “Parmenie” groups, which were our small group breakout sessions where we would reflect on the guest speakers we had just heard. We shared our individual stories and got to bond over our shared experience attending a Lasallian school.

Reflecting on her experience on the trip, junior Paige Baines said, “YLA taught me about how life is for other Lasallian schools. [It] showed me that it doesn’t matter where you come from in America, [and that] we’re all connected through our core values.”

Personally, I wondered if our school might include a similar exercise that brings together all students from different grades. Getting to know other students in small-group sessions might especially help the freshmen and sophomores. This would also bring our school together.

Lisa Daniels
Building new friendships that will last a lifetime.

If you get a chance to attend an event like this, I challenge you to be committed and say, ‘Yes.’ It opened my eyes and I realized what it was like to be Lasallian: serving others, establishing connections through values we share, being compassionate, and staying open-minded. I made connections with people that I will never forget and still keep in contact with.

On that day that we hiked to the “Tree of Life,” I could have instead made the decision to snooze my alarm but I would have missed out. I would have missed the opportunity to catch the sunrise, make connections with others, and join the jam session that took place at the top of the hill.


Olivia Lawson
While volunteering at the Boys and Girls Club, we took a trip to Father Alfred E. Boeddeker Park in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. My highlight from that day was when five- year-old Sebastian said, “You are my best friend.”

Reflecting on my experience at YLA, my takeaways are simple: Try new things, take new risks, and challenge yourself.  You only have one life to stay committed to. We as Lasallians should be inspired to focus on unity and connecting with one another’s values and characteristics.  We should also be committed to serving each other just as Jean-Baptiste de La Salle did, and we should remember to be open to new opportunities, for we only have one life to live.