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Little Flower fills preschool void in Rugby

By Staff | Mar 5, 2012

Little Flower Catholic School is making changes to fit the needs of today’s young families. The school board has decided to expand its kindergarten program from three days a week to five days a week. Kindergarten at Little Flower is a full day program.

“Having a five-day kindergarten program makes it easier on parents to schedule day care,” said Father Tom Graner, pastor, Little Flower Church. “It also benefits the students as they will have time to work on bigger projects.

The pre-school program which is half-days will expand from two days a week to three days a week. Each day will have two half-day sessions, three days a week. Presently there are 21 students in pre-school. The only other pre-school in Rugby is Head Start which is a very good program, but which has eligibility requirements. Since one teacher teaches both kindergarten and pre-school and the kindergarten is going full time, a teacher will need to be hired for a 3-day-a-week position in the pre-school for the next school year.

The school which has been in existence since 1942 will be celebrating its 70th year during the 2012-13 school year. The school was built under the direction of (the late) Monsignor Close. Little Flower School is one of about 10 Catholic elementary schools still open.

Dropping enrollments in recent years has driven the need to find financial solutions that will work to keep the school open. In the 11 years Mr. Bruce Ganarelli has been the superintendent, the Kindergarten-6th grade elementary school has gone from 105 students his first year to 50 students this year. The school began consolidating grades two years ago with the combination of the fifth and sixth grade students. This seems to work very well. Last year, the school combined first and second grade and next year they will combine third and fourth grade.

“It was an adjustment at first,” said Father Graner. “Other schools have made it work and so have we. It’s been helping us financially keep the school running and the students are doing as well as ever.

“Families have adjusted well to the combined classrooms, and teachers are doing a phenomenal job,” said Christie Jaeger, president, Parents-Teachers Organization at Little Flower.

One parent whose last child is graduating from sixth grade at Little Flower in the spring, said she was against the consolidation at first.

“They’ve done a really good job,” said Laurie Odden who attended Little Flower School as a child. “He (her son) has continued to learn what he needs to.”

“When I look at my children’s ability to speak in public comfortably, I am amazed,” added Odden. “They have learned this at Little Flower School.”

Odden said she sent her two children, daughter, Keylee 15 and son, Kyler 12, to Catholic School because she wanted them to learn about God in their school environment. In addition, she said, the smaller classes provide more one-on-one attention.

Another change for Little Flower is that Mr. Ganarelli has resigned his position effective at the end of this school year. The school will need to look for another superintendent. Mr. Ganarelli also teaches physical education two days a week. In the 11 years, Mr. Ganarelli has worked at Little Flower, many children have gone through the school and graduated. Ganarelli said his plans are to continue to live and work in Rugby.

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