"Society likes to pass them off as bad kids," said Troy Kennedy, assistant to the associate executive director at LaSalle School in Albany. "They're not bad kids."

Mr. Kennedy, who is primarily in charge of staff development at LaSalle, knows this well: He was once a student at the school, which is a residential and day treatment facility for about 230 troubled boys who have been referred by family courts or social services.

Earlier this month, LaSalle celebrated the grand reopening of the George E. Hanner Center for Excellence and Lasallian Mission. The building, constructed in 1979, is a hub for training, community events and meetings that help promote a safe and educational environment for the students.

LaSalle School was founded in 1854 by the De La Salle Christian Brothers. Back then, it primarily served orphans and abandoned boys. Now, it offers a place for boys to live who are dealing with trauma, mental illness, neglect and abuse.

There is a full special-education and regular school for boys in grades six through 12, plus substance abuse services, treatment for boys who've been abused or who have sexually acted out, and clinical services for boys who have had academic and behavioral issues.

After renovations, the Hanner Center now has multiple conference rooms and updated technology to assist with training staff in working with LaSalle's students. Mr. Kennedy and other trainers explain methods such as therapeutic crisis intervention.

LaSalle once focused on containment of students. Today, the school looks more at understanding the neuroscience behind the boys' negative behaviors: for instance, the role of adverse childhood experiences.

Staff ask themselves, "What did the child go through?" not, "What did the child do?" Mr. Kennedy explained, noting that many boys who end up at LaSalle have acted out because of experiences from their younger years.

Mr. Kennedy describes this as having a faulty car alarm that constantly goes off at the slightest pressure.

"Every staff member knows about the amygdala," said Mr. Kennedy, referring to the part of the brain that controls humans' "fight, flight or freeze" responses -- and, often, leads to snap or risky decisions.

Using this focus in training sessions has helped bring the staff at LaSalle national recognition. Mr. Kennedy and others at the school have been asked to speak at large conferences on their methods, and have had the opportunity to bring other professionals in the field to LaSalle to discuss the needs of youths like those at LaSalle.

After the Hanner Center was renovated, its name was changed slightly from "The George E. Hanner Chapel/Cultural Center" to "The George E. Hanner Center for Excellence and Lasallian Mission." The change indicates a turn toward looking at the future for the boys at LaSalle.

George Hanner was a LaSalle alumnus. "He went through the program and succeeded in life," said Marita Jadlos, director of communications and development, and "he never forgot LaSalle."

Mr. Hanner became an executive at a banking agency, as well as a member of the LaSalle board of trustees from 1953-75. The center was dedicated to him in 1979.

Although Mr. Hanner has passed on, his daughters and son-in-law are still active on the board of trustees. His daughters, Mary Beth and Barbara, noted that their father would be proud of the updated Hanner Center -- and that his memory is still present at LaSalle.

(Contact LaSalle School at 518-242-4731.)