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"Shame on me if I don't get that figured out," Lorang says in his office at the O'Gorman Junior High complex. "We'll figure it out. What's a great retirement look like? What should it look like? We'll assess that."

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And this question, maybe the most important one: How does this 70 year old architect of one of the nation's most studied Catholic school models slip into retirement now without any more of the team building and consensus reaching that has defined him?

The Lorang boys were athletes football in the fall, basketball in the winter, track in the spring, baseball each summer. Tom Lorang trained year round, his younger sister, Jean, said. But she saw much more than just the competitive nature in her brother.

"This is the first time I've ever said anything out loud about this," he said, and suddenly there's bit of emotion in his voice. "But I made up my mind that day that the story Converse Low Top Buff

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"I didn't even know we were poor until much later," Lorang recalled of his childhood. "And another thing is, I didn't appreciate nearly as much as I should have how hard my parents worked because they never complained, ever. They were never victims."

would never be about me again. The story should have been about us and what we've been allowed to do and what we've accomplished."

A faith filled man, he will insist that it was God who gave him the skills to write a doctoral dissertation on running a Catholic school system that some Converse High Tops Leather Brown

But if the answer is "yes" Converse Mens Slip On

Of course, he won't take credit for any of it. Never has and never will. He seldom utters an "I." It's always "we."

God put him in the right place at the right time, Lorang said, calling him here in 1978 from 12 years of guidance counseling and coaching in Yankton to become O'Gorman's first lay principal and to influence however he could the culture of an education system with the Catholic underpinnings he so embraced.

Do we want to know how the son of a car salesman the middle of eight siblings growing up poor but happy in 1940s and '50s Hartford emerges from meager beginnings to forge a Catholic school system that the rest of the nation wants to emulate?

Guiding hand in model Catholic school system retires

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Next question: How do we get there?

We'll follow the process, he says. And there's your answer.

In Lorang's case, you go back to Hartford, to a country emerging from the Depression, and to Ted and Margaret Lorang as they began anew with their growing family after the grasshoppers and the rolling walls of dirt had dashed their farming dreams in Nebraska.

and the answer always has been "yes" whenever Lorang has asked those who share his vision if they want Catholic education to continue in this community all right then.

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For more than 23 years now, until July 1 when Robert Wehde becomes just the second superintendent of the Sioux Falls Catholic Schools, the stoic Lorang has been at the forefront of this "process" that has created a $15 million unified system with 2,700 students spread across a high school, a junior high and six elementaries.

For that matter, how does this guidance counselor lead a community across the bridge from a rich, centuries old system of priests and nuns in the classroom to the other side and a new world of lay teachers who need more than garden vegetables or a half beef for their pay?

Ted Lorang went to work as a car salesman in nearby Sioux Falls. His wife, when not mothering their five boys and three girls, spent grueling days standing at a local produce house as she examined poultry eggs under a light what they call candling.

Modest upbringing on farm in Hartford

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How do we get to the heart and grit and leadership of a man whose parents saw their farming dreams disintegrate in the Nebraska dust storms of the Dirty Thirties? Whose older brother, Ray, died in the Vietnam War era? Whose faith started him down a path to priesthood but led him on a transformational journey instead?

would argue is the blueprint for just exactly what Sioux Falls' Catholic schools have done and now what other Catholic systems across the country are replicating as well.

It never has been about him, he will tell you. And should that truism ever waver, well, there's a framed image on a shelf in his office to bring him and everyone else back. Department of Education for its excellence in private education. It's a point of pride, to be sure, but also a reminder to the intensely humble Lorang about how the local media back then tried to suggest that the young principal somehow was the story.

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Accomplished? Where do you begin recounting the highlights of a system and a man mutually intertwined and transformed by the tides of history, faith and timing?

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No? Well that makes it easy then, doesn't it, Lorang likes Converse Gold And Black to say, a smile at his lips as he quickly adds, "Let's all go home."

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