Thursday, January 29, 2015

St. Laurentius school population is swelling

St. Laurentius school population is swelling

St. Laurentius school population is swelling

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."

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
About this blog

When my phone rings here at the Daily News, nine times out of ten the caller begins the conversation with, “Yeah, so what happened was…”.

Because this is Philly, the caller doesn’t say, “My name is Bob” – or Mary – “and I wonder if I could have a moment of your time?” Philadelphians are too direct for that. They just say, “Yeah, so what happened was…”, and then tumble into a tale they think oughta be shared with a wider audience. I love getting these calls (even the ones where it becomes clear, after 30 seconds, where the caller sowed the seeds of his own misery), because they give me chance to connect with fellow citizens in a way that no other job allows. Well, okay, no other job for which I’m remotely qualified.

That’s why my blog is titled “So What Happened Was…”. To me, it’s the quintessentially Philly way of saying, “Once upon a time.” When I hear it, I know a good story is coming. And I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

Ronnie Polaneczky has been an award-winning columnist for The Philadelphia Daily News since 1999, offering a front-steps perspective on every aspect of city life, from the sublime to the stupid. In her past life, she was the editor-in-chief of Atlantic City Magazine, associate editor at Philadelphia Magazine and a fulltime freelancer published in Ladies Home Journal, Good Housekeeping, Redbook, Reader's Digest, Men's Health, MarieClaire and others. She lives with her husband, daughter and various pets in the city's Fairmount section, where she dreams of one day singing The National Anthem at an Eagles game. In addition to her column and blog, you can enjoy Ronnie's musings in podcast form here.

Read more from Ronnie Polaneczky at Earth to Philly, the Daily News blog on anything and everything "Green Reach Ronnie at

Ronnie Polaneczky Daily News Columnist
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