He will continue to be a theology teacher and help ease the transition with the new director.
The face of Malvern’s Christian Service Program and the man who built the program into what it it is today has stepped down.
Christian Service Director Mr. Larry Legner, has coordinated his last service weekend and is finishing up his last global service trips as director. He said the decision to step down was due to family reasons.
“I have been thinking about [stepping down] a good part of this year,” Legner said. “The job requires a lot of hours and I like everything to be perfect. It’s just who I am… it’s just gotten to be a lot. I’m going to be 65 when we come back to school next year, and it’s time to slow down.”
Legner will continue to teach theology for a few more years before he retires. He said this will give him the ability to train his successor. He said he has no idea who his successor may be but suggested that it two people instead of one.
“Whoever it is, I’ll show them the way I did it but they’re welcomed to make it any way they want,” Legner said. “It’s not my program, It’s Malvern Prep’s program.”
Before Mr. Legner, the service program was very different. There were no global service trips or school sponsored service days, and not even the C.A.R.E.S. Walk.
According to Legner, Mr. Larry DiPaul headed to service program until 2004. Each grade had to complete a certain amount of outside of school service hours. Freshman had ten, sophomores had 20, juniors had 30, and seniors had 40. Students were responsible for finding times when they could volunteer at a list of places Malvern gave them.
After DiPaul left to coordinate the Romero Center, Legner moved from Dean of Students to Director of Christian Service.
Legner said he wanted Malvern faculty to set an example to students for service. Legner pitched the service weekend idea to Head of School at the time Mr. Jim Stewart, and Stewart approved.
Legner set up the service weekends so that there was a progressive element to it. Freshmen start small with local service. Sophomores have their first overnight experience at St. Augustine’s. Juniors go to Urban Challenge. Previously, DiPaul took only one group per year to Urban Challenge.
A year later, Legner wanted to add something bigger for the seniors. In a conversation with Augustinian Provincial at the time Fr. Don Reilly, Fr. Reilly suggested Legner take a group of seniors to Peru. Fr. Reilly will also get to oversee the program next year as Malvern’s Head of School.
“I went over to Peru with a group of adults to see it,” Legner said, “and loved it, fell in love with the place and decided that would be a trip. That was our first trip. We did Peru and then we did South Africa after that and then they just kept growing and growing and growing.”
Legner said he is most proud of these global service trips.
“To give a high school boy the opportunity to go to the places we go and see real poverty,” Legner said, “I think really changes them, and that’s my goal. I completely understand that we’re not going into these places and changing— we’re not changing Peru. But maybe we can change the boys so that five, ten, twenty years from now, it’s going to be a part of who they are as a man.”
Assistant Director of Christian Service Mrs. Laura Miele has been working with Legner for five years and said she would like Legner successor to be a “carbon copy of Larry.”
“Mr. Legner is the heart of this school, and he puts his heart in every aspect,” she said. “I don’t there’s anybody out there that could fill his shoes, unless there were two people.”
Senior Bryan Willcox went on the Armenia service trip last summer with Legner. He said the trip was a great experience.
“The experience I had over the summer was so life changing,” Willcox said. “The impact on us is huge.”
Willcox was happy that Legner came with him on the trip.
“It was a ton of fun being there with him,” he said. “I got to know him a lot better and see how awesome a guy he is and see how much work he puts into it.”