If you're gonna run a 5K race and take aim at a dunk tank, it's always fun to know the sub-text. Regarding this Saturday's St. LauRUNtius 5K run and Neighborhood Festival (April 21st), the occasion is a happy kick-off to what families of Fishtown's St. Laurentius plan to make an annual event to raise funds for their parish school.
St. Laurentius, of course, was on the list of Philadelphia archdiocesan schools slated to close come June. In an inspiring rally, parents and community members made a strong case to the archdiocese for a stay of execution, and so the sweet little haven at 1611 E. Berks St. will remain open.
All that rallying has been a marketing boon. Parent A.J. Thomson tells me that fall's enrollment will be over 250, up from its current 237. Given that the school's legal maximum capacity is 268, that means the school will be 93 percent full. Most of the new admissions are to the kindergarten and pre-k classes, he says, evidence of a baby boomlet in Fishtown, which "has always supported Catholic education."
On a side note, Thomson says, he wanted to ask Dr. Richard McCarron to volunteer for the festival's dunk tank - which is more a jab to the ribs than a sincere request, he admits. McCarron, after all, is the archdiocese' secretary for Catholic education and not exactly beloved to families who feel their schools were wrongly targeted for closure. "Dr. McCarron is an epic failure," says Thomson. "The fact that he's kept his job all these years is a direct result of Catholic compassion, I guess."
The only thing that prevented Thomson from approaching McCarron about the dunk tank, he says, is that he didn't want to dunk St. Laurentius beloved leader, Father Frank Gwiazda, into hot water with the archdiocese.
Says Thomson, "The last thing I want to do is cause heartache for that man."