By Grant Gierhahn ‘20

Without question, Nov. 7, 2019, will go down as one of the fondest days in Brother Rice history. On this seemingly routine Thursday afternoon, Kevin Cronin, esteemed musician and lead vocalist for REO Speedwagon, returned to 99th and Pulaski for the first time since his high school days to celebrate his 50th anniversary of graduation.

And he was welcomed back with wide-open arms.

Arguably the most societally accomplished graduate of Br. Rice, Cronin’s return was commemorated with an all-school assembly in the South Gym. Cronin not only conducted a Q&A session with a handful of broadcast students, but he was also enthusiastically inducted into the Brother Rice Alumni Hall of Fame.

Cronin humorously outlined his predictably rebellious tenure as a Crusader, even boasting that current students managed to miss some class time for the ceremony.

Students, however, undoubtedly gained some valuable insight from the rock and roll icon. Demonstrating a surprisingly innate ability to relate to students on a social level, Cronin urged the student body to always be themselves, no matter the cost.

“I was in your shoes once,” he continued. “It doesn’t matter what people think of you in high school.”

Cronin delivered an inspiring message, stressing the importance of self-confidence and optimism. Cronin noted that he was definitely not in contention for a “most likely to succeed” award while in high school, but that should motivate today’s Crusaders to never give up on their hopes and dreams.

The REO Speedwagon star’s high school days certainly weren’t flawless, but he “buried the hatchet,” and was happily overwhelmed by the Br. Rice community’s warm reception.

As a ceremonial encore, Cronin even put on a live performance for the packed gym, playing three of his top hits. Going acoustic style and demonstrating that he has lost none of his musical prowess, Cronin masterfully performed “Take it on the Run,” “Keep on Loving You,” and “Can’t Fight this Feeling.”

Smiles were widespread. The typically hectic, wild aura of the Br. Rice South Gym was, just for a few moments, truly magical and awe-inspiring.

Kevin Cronin, welcome home.

Brother Rice will always “Keep on Loving You.”