.- Mrs. Laura Bush on Tuesday visited Little Flower School in Bethesda, Maryland in her last school visit as First Lady. Noting the upcoming celebration of National Catholic Schools Week, she praised the history of Catholic schools in the United States and congratulated Little Flower for being chosen as a Blue Ribbon School.
Her audience included school faculty, students, and the Archbishop of Washington Donald Wuerl.
“This is my last school visit as First Lady of the United States, and I wanted to end my school visit with a terrific school like Little Flower,” Mrs. Bush said during her 10 a.m. remarks, in which she also referenced her career as a teacher and school librarian.
The First Lady said that National Schools Week, observed from Jan. 25 – 31, is “the week that everybody in the United States can thank our Catholic schools for the great work that you do all over our country and all over the world, really.”
“It's also a time for us to talk to our leaders about the importance of Catholic education,” she continued.
“Catholic schools have a very long history in the United States,” Mrs. Bush continued. “Many of the very first schools in our country for the first little boys and girls that lived in the United States were Catholic schools.
“You have a long history of both academics and also of making sure American children in Catholic schools learn the values that are important to all of us and that are important to the people of the United States.”
She added that National Schools Week is an opportunity for her to thank everybody involved in Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Washington, and also an opportunity to convey thanks on behalf of President Bush.
“Catholic schools have a special commitment in inner cities,” the First Lady remarked. “Many Catholic schools in the United States are taking as a special mission their responsibility to educate disadvantaged students, and I want to give you my special thanks for that and my encouragement to continue that important mission in our inner cities.”
Mrs. Bush then congratulated the school for being awarded the Blue Ribbon last year.
“Have you all seen that great big blue ribbon right here in your hallway? Did you know that only 50 non-public schools in all of the United States were chosen as Blue Ribbon Schools? So that's a really wonderful accomplishment,” she commented.
The award, she said, means that students at Little Flower are really learning and succeeding “in every way.”
“I want to give you special congratulations to the teachers, to the administration, to the faculty, but especially to the students at Little Flower School. I want to applaud you,” she said.
“Congratulations on being such smart kids.”
The First Lady reported that in the Archdiocese of Washington about 97 percent of children who go to Catholic schools go on to higher education.
“And that's a very, very good record and very good statistic,” she said.
Mrs. Bush closed her remarks by thanking Archbishop Wuerl, school principal Sister Rosemaron Rynn, and the students in her audience.
Since Little Flower School opened in 1953, it has been staffed by members of the Congregation of the Sisters of Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Their motherhouse is in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Today there are six IHM sisters on the faculty of Little Flower. According to the school’s web site, it offers an “excellent” academic program that is “imbued and enlivened by the gospel message which inspires all to live the values of our Catholic faith.”