Serving Little Flower for more than 70 years, collectively, are, from left:
Sister Kathleen Klarich, R.S.M., principal; Marguerite Nicholson-Schenk,
assistant principal for student services; Patricia McCaffrey, assistant
principal for student affairs; Sister Donna Shallo, I.H.M., president; and
Rita McGovern, assistant principal for academic affairs.
Little Flower High School is Thriving! -- Catholic Standard & Times
By Jim Gauger
Special to The CS&T
PHILADELPHIA — When you speak with Sister Donna Shallo, I.H.M., and Sister Kathleen Klarich, R.S.M., of Little Flower High School for Girls, the enthusiasm in their voices is almost overwhelming.
They head a leadership team at the school, located in the Hunting Park section of North Philadelphia, that is both experienced and committed. Little Flower, which opened Sept. 1, 1939, “as the most modern of the secondary schools and the pride of the Philadelphia Catholic system,” is still going strong despite facing closure in the early 1990s.
“Our current students are our best advertisers,” Sister Donna, the school’s president, said. “The word of mouth is that our students are happy here, and parents want happy teenagers.” That spirit is the engine that drives the faculty and the students each day, said Sister Donna, who has been at Little Flower for 19 years.
And another key element to Little Flower’s continued success? Commitment to service. The principal, Sister Kathleen, has been at the school for 15 years. Then there are Rita McGovern, assistant principal for academic affairs — 15 years; Marguerite Nicholson-Schenk, assistant principal for student services — 14 years; and Patricia McCaffrey, assistant principal for student affairs — 10 years.
“It is very significant (having the administration in place for such a long period),” Sister Kathleen explained. “Each one is an individual with her own gifts and experiences. We are unified, committed to the mission of the school. We respect one another and communicate effectively.”
That sense of continuity and stability is welcomed by Sister Donna. “We are all interested in the students and embrace the mission of Little Flower,” she said. According to the school’s web site, Cardinal Dennis Dougherty, in order “to express his personal devotion to St. Therese of Lisieux, named the school Little Flower confident that as patroness of the school she, in her Little Way, would be a model for the girls who would be educated here.”
In 1953, Little Flower was the largest Catholic girls’ high school in the country, with a student body of 3,312. Just about 40 years later the school was battling to survive as archdiocesan high schools adopted open enrollment. “Due to the deficit situation” in the Archdiocese, Little Flower and nine other schools were to be closed.
Sister Donna, who came to the school in 1991 as director of activities, remembers. “It was horrible,” she said of the 1992 crisis when enrollment was in the 900s. “All but St. James (Chester) and Bishop Kenrick (Norristown, her alma mater) survived.” (click title for the entire article)
This for my buddy Clare Pfeil, LFHS '84 (student #844350), who still sings it -- not well but it doesn't stop her ;-)
Alma Mater, good and true
The pride of Church and City,
We pledge our all to God and you
Under Mary's mantle blue.
Our faith is anchored here
With love that will light your years;
Staunch hearts will ever sing in praise of you.
Hail to you, Little Flower, hail!
Pride of all, our love will not fail
Guide us and keep us safe through the years
Bring us your children, brave through all fears.
Onward we will march foursquare
Vanguard of truth to do and to dare,
We, to you, our pledge renew,
Fore'er we will be true.
Little Flower, we glory to see
Your colors gleam in the sunlight,
Maroon for love and loyalty,
Snowy White for purity
Proud, we your banner fling,
Exultant, your praises sing.
We march on strong with trust in God above.