Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy Welcomes New International Boarding Students

(L to R): FSHA’s Boarding Council made up of current boarding students. Irene Niu, Adrey Lin, Hannah Tong, Natalie Niu, LinhDan Pham (seated), Emma Lin, Amy Xu, and Jae Son.Martha Lem, Director of FSHA’s Boarding Program gets ready to greet the new boarding students on Move-In Day.(L to R): New boarding student Paloma Enrique Rosales, returning boarder LinhDan Pham, and new boarding student Annette Lee listen to their classmates during introductions.New boarding student Jianing “Wendy” Zhou (from China) introduces herself to her fellow boarders during lunch.Sister Celeste Marie Botello, O.P. Principal of FSHA talks with Racio Rosales, mother to new boarder Paloma Enrique Rosales during the Boarding Family Luncheon. Rosales attended FSHA for a year in the 1980s.Sister Carolyn McCormack, O.P., President of FSHA welcomes a new parent during the Boarding Family Luncheon on Move-In Day.


12:25 pm | September 4, 2013

China, Mexico, Mongolia, Taiwan—these are only a few of the places from which Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy’s new boarding students hail. On Sunday, August 18, 20 new students (and their families) arrived on campus and were greeted by Boarding Director Martha Lem and her staff, along with Associate Director of Admissions Catherine O’Brien; Sister Carolyn McCormack O.P., President; and Sister Celeste Marie Botello O.P., Principal. “Opening days are so exciting for us. All the boarding staff, admissions staff and the administration are so eager to see everyone,” Lem said.

This proved especially true for O’Brien: “It is really wonderful to finally meet ‘in person’ those families I have only met by Skype throughout the application process. It makes the connection complete.” Also on hand were a group of current boarding students to welcome the new Tologs and help them get settled into their rooms. With all the FSHA support in the halls, it wasn’t long before beds were made, suitcases unpacked and new roommates met.

At noon, the students went into FSHA’s Green Room for a welcome lunch, while the parents were treated to a special luncheon in the Lounge. For many on staff, this was a rare opportunity to meet with the boarding parents—many do not return to campus again until the Christmas holidays or even the end of the school year. At the luncheon, Sister Carolyn recognized each family individually and gave parents a special gift and a warm hug. “These parents need to know we value their daughters, their education, and their social, emotional and spiritual well-being, and we will continue to communicate with them at every turn in the road,” O’Brien said.

After lunch, parents met up with their daughters to help with any last-minute issues. Emotions ran high as families said their goodbyes. “I’m pretty nervous. I’m just wondering about high school life. I’m scared about my homework,” admitted Ching “Pearl” Wang ’17 who’s from Thailand. For Qiu “Liberty” Yunyu ‘17, remembering a family pet brought a bit of heartache. “I miss my cat. Her name is the Chinese word for flower,“ she said.

But as Lem knows from years of experience, homesickness ebbs over time. “Some girls cry and withdraw a bit for a few days,” she said. “But as they get more at ease, you see them begin to run through the halls and make new friends. And the returning boarding girls have it all down and really do take the new girls under their wings to help them settle in.”

Yet even with the nerves and the homesickness, the girls were excited for what lies ahead. “Every boarder comes from a different country and brings her own culture. That’s really cool,” Pearl said. And while the new boarders learn about American culture, their fellow classmates learn just as much about the larger world. “For those fortunate local students who are educated alongside our boarding students, they are able to experience a global village here on the Hill,” O’Brien said. “There is no filter between these cultures, no spin and no ulterior motive other than living and learning, side by side. This truly is a unique and special community, and we are blessed to be a part of it.”

FSHA has always welcomed boarding students, beginning with the school’s inception in 1931. In fact, FSHA was solely a boarding school for girls in 1st through 12th grades until 1951, when the school started accepting day students. (The elementary grades were eventually phased out.) Over the years, the boarding program has accepted students from across the United States, Canada, India, South Korea, Mexico, Thailand, Japan, Saudi Arabia, and Vietnam, to name a few countries.

For more information on FSHA’s boarding program, please contact Catherine O’Brien, Associate Director of Admissions at cobrien@fsha.org or (626) 685-8522, or visit the school’s website at www.fsha.org.