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United Way of Lancaster County


Pa. House recognizes SDL’s ‘Brother Frank’ Albrecht

Brother Frank Albrecht, foreground, listens as State Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, behind him, reads his citation at the state Capitol on Tuesday, March 26, 2024. (Source: School District of Lancaster)

“Brother” Frank Albrecht was honored at the state Capitol this week for his decades of selfless dedication to the students of the School District of Lancaster.

Joined by House Speaker Joanna McClinton and House Republican Leader Bryan Cutler, state Rep. Ismail Smith-Wade-El, D-Lancaster, presented the McCaskey High School educator, advisor and peacemaker a Pennsylvania House of Representatives citation commending his “exemplary record of service.”

“Throughout his career, Mr. Albrecht demonstrated remarkable knowledge, ability and integrity in carrying out his many responsibilities,” it reads, “thus earning the respect and gratitude of all those who received the benefit of his tireless devotion to duty.”

Brother Frank Albrecht, center, is joined by family, friends, School District of Lancaster and state officials and members of the REACH student club at the state Capitol (Source: School District of Lancaster)

Albrecht, 65, started working at the school district in 1981. From the start, he was a boisterous, energetic presence, determined to make a connection with every student he encountered.

He created the role of peer mediation coordinator and developed SDL’s first student mediation program, training 32 student mediators a year for a quarter-century. During the Covid-19 pandemic, he made daily rounds to the homes of 25 students at risk of not graduating, ensuring all of them earned their diplomas on time.

“My highest mission in life is to help all people feel valued and loved,” he said when he received the Crispus Attucks Legacy Award earlier this year.

Albrecht “models a level of purpose and optimism in the face of adversity that we should all strive to emulate,” Smith-Wade-El said, calling him an “unforgettable, irreplaceable part” of the SDL community.

Last summer, Albrecht was diagnosed with ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a degenerative nerve condition known as “Lou Gehrig’s disease.” It has progressed rapidly: He is confined to a wheelchair and has begun using a BiPAP machine to assist his breathing. He tires easily and his voice has become a whisper.

Supporting ‘Brother Frank’

Albrecht’s spirit has been indomitable. Until earlier this month he continued going to work at McCaskey, conveyed in a wheelchair-accessible van. He has continued attending school events. He told LNP: “I just want to experience my illness as an adventure.”

Since the 1990s he has been known as “Brother Albrecht.” “All of the world are my brothers and sisters,” he told LNP.

While some ALS patients can live for a decade or more, average life expectancy after diagnosis is two to five years.

(Source: School District of Lancaster)

Albrecht accepted his state recognition on Tuesday accompanied by family, friends and a contingent of students from REACH, a student-led after-school club he started in 1987. He gathered the students together to encourage them to continue supporting each other and the community at large.

It was wonderful to see them, he said afterward. The day, he said, was something “none of us will ever forget.”

He has influenced generations of young people, said school board member Kareena Rios, a 2009 McCaskey graduate, who has known Albrecht since her student days. She described him as a “beacon of light, going on for decades and decades.”

“We felt that and want to carry it forward,” she said.