Young author

Former student Laskowski
pens history book on Shawe High School

By Konnie McCollum
Contributing Writer

(April 2006) – When a teacher assigns a project for class, many students moan and groan and procrastinate until the last possible minute. Not so with Jacob Laskowski, a 2005 graduate of Shawe Memorial High School in Madison, Ind. He enthusiastically decided to do something special in honor of his school’s 50th anniversary.

Shawe Book Cover

Photo provided

The new book on Shawe High School will help mark the school’s 50th anniversary.

Laskowski’s project grew over the course of 1 1/2 years and expanded into a book titled, “Looking Back: The Story of the Hilltopper.” The 130-page coffee table type book features more than 250 photographs and documents the history of Shawe High School and the history of the Catholic Church in Madison.
The book chronicles the 50-year history of the high school and the nearly 200 years of the Catholic community in the area. Included in the book is a foreword by Father Hilary G. Meny, an area priest who helped develop the high school. Other notable Catholic leaders in the community added invaluable assistance, including editing help.
Laskowski, 19, said that although he met with some naysaying when he first thought of the book idea, he persevered. “I have a way of getting things done,” he said. As the project developed, however, enthusiasm and support for his work grew.
“That’s quite an accomplishment for someone of his age,” said Marta Belt, director of development and marketing at Prince of Peace Catholic Schools, which operates Shawe Memorial High School and Pope John Paul elementary schools. She helped edit Laskowski’s manuscript and served “as sort of a mentor on the project.”
Much of the research for the project came from several books about the previous Catholic churches in Madison. Laskowski also used pictures from past Shawe yearbooks, the Jefferson County Historical Society, Historic Madison Inc. and The Madison Courier. He said Michael Moore, a historian at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church, was extremely helpful in providing historical information for the book.
Laskowski said he loved working on the project because he learned so much information. His favorite part of the work was when he gathered together the first graduating class from the high school for an interview. He said it was really exciting to listen to the former Shawe students talk about the early days of the school.

Jacob Laskowski


In order to get the money to print the book, Laskowski spent much of last summer fund raising. He called and wrote letters to church communities asking for donations. Many private donors also gave to the project. At this point, he has raised about $10,000 for publication costs but he needs another $5,000 or so to finish covering expenses. He hopes sales and further contributions will provide the additional funds. Proceeds from the book will benefit the Shawe Memorial student newspaper, “The Topper Tribune,” which Laskowski helped to revive while a student there.
Laskowski now attends Barry College in Rome, Ga., where he is studying public relations and communications. He would eventually love to work in broadcasting as a newscaster.
As for the class project that started the book, he said he received a good grade.
“Looking Back: The Story of the Hilltopper,” will be available in April upon the book’s arrival from DPI Printing in Madison. Books will be available at a book-signing event sometime this spring.

• Anyone interested in making a donation or ordering a book, which will cost $25, can call (812) 273-5835, ext. 251.

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