Little Flower COVID-19 response has been its “finest hour’

Little Flower students began online learning on March 16.

Little Flower High School had to do a lot of adapting when the coronavirus struck, and president Jeane McNamara believes the school has handled the challenge well.

“It’s really worked out,” she said. “I think it’s been Little Flower’s finest hour.”

On March 13, Gov. Tom Wolf ordered all Pennsylvania schools closed for at least two weeks, forcing administrators to find new ways to educate students.

“We were ready to go the following Monday, the 16th,” McNamara said. “We didn’t miss a beat.”

Any girl who needed a Chromebook was given one, and instruction took place online.

Wolf, of course, later announced that schools would close for the rest of the academic year.

McNamara described the Archdiocese of Philadelphia as unified and innovative through the last 2½ months.

Little Flower faculty worked with students Mondays through Thursdays. McNamara described Fridays as a “regroup” day, with teachers planning and marking assignments and students submitting assignments and pursuing additional help from teachers and support services.

“Attendance has been higher than it’s ever been,” said McNamara, placing it in the upper 90s.

The school minister, the Rev. Joe McCaffrey, led the LF community in prayer and made announcements.

McNamara credited Maryanne Rayer, assistant principal for student affairs, with arranging virtual freshmen/sophomore and junior/senior “hangouts” and online publication of the school newspaper, The Theresian.

The school president said teachers brought quality instruction and assessment and enthusiasm to their newly designed jobs as online educators.

LF also partnered with the archdiocese’s Nutritional Development Services to distribute thousands of meals to the needy every Monday and Wednesday.

McNamara credits the grace of God and the support of St. Therese in bringing Little Flower through the challenge.

The senior class of 125 girls earned about $21 million in scholarships. The girls were scheduled to have their baccalaureate Mass Thursday night at St. Timothy Church. Graduation was scheduled to take place Friday at Holy Family.

Now, graduation will be a 52-minute video Friday at 9 a.m. Starting at 10:30, girls are invited to the school to pick up their diplomas and take pictures.

The new grads will have input on possible summer celebrations, including a graduation Mass, yearbook signing, senior picnic and prom, which had been scheduled for April 24 at Adventure Aquarium.

Meanwhile, Little Flower looks to the 2020-21 academic year. Sister Kathleen Klarich, principal since 1995, announced her resignation two months ago. McNamara said a successor should be announced by mid-June.

Little Flower met its goal of registering 121 girls for the class of 2024. Tentative plans call for those eighth-graders to take part in summer programming to get them high school ready.

All the while, alumna have been supporting the school, with one handing over her stimulus check.

“The Little Flower alum has been amazing,” McNamara said. ••