In Their Own Words

Our boarding students and their families share what makes the boarding experience at Flintridge Sacred Heart special.

Meet Claire Ding '21, Boarding Council President

I love all the teachers who have taught me and my friends here. I'm grateful for being surrounded by such an amazing group of people.
Claire Ding '21

List of 7 frequently asked questions.

Meet Ziling Coco Chen '24

You may wonder what it's like to attend attend an all-girls' high school and live with girls from the United States and around the world. Coco tells us a little bit about her experience at Flintridge Sacred Heart!

Coco and her parents

List of 8 frequently asked questions.

Its small class sizes and Catholic values have helped form her faith and encouraged [Joy] develop into a moral, committed and responsible person who is also an excellent student.
—Song Liu (Joy '19)

The Boarding Experience: A Local Guardian's Perspective

by William Cheung (Cynthia '19)

Flintridge Sacred Heart asks that each boarding student have a local guardian unless their own family lives nearby. The core responsibility of a local guardian is to perform the parental obligations in the absence of a boarding student’s parent(s), such as being able to sign the permission forms and other school-related documents, becoming a liaison between the school and the student as well as her family, and serving as the host family for the student during the holidays and school breaks. Since most of the boarding students at Flintridge Sacred Heart are international students, their parents might not be available physically. A local guardian is vital to the overall quality of the boarding experience and the well-being of the students.

Cynthia (center) with friends from the boarding hall

I am the local guardian for Cynthia, who is from Shanghai, China. When I first met her two years ago, I thought she was a pretty mature young girl with a warm personality that exuded a certain self-confidence. Her smile was sweet and radiant. My first task, of course, was to support her adjustment and transition into the new environment at Flintridge Sacred Heart. We invited her to spend weekends with us, sharing our family’s American way of life—shopping, dining, hiking, attending Sunday church, volunteer work, watching football games, movies. Her favorite movies are from “The Fast and Furious” series. She also enjoyed the variety of dining experiences Southern California has to offer. She came to our neighborhood parties; there she met a few boys attending the various local high schools. We hoped gradually she would be connected to our community outside the school, and our home would become her home away from home.

List of 1 frequently asked questions.

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    Her first serious challenge came when she was put on the waiting list for the dance program. She was disappointed, as she is a passionate dancer and the dance program was one of the main reasons she chose to come to Flintridge Sacred Heart. She didn’t know what to do. We encouraged her to take the initiative to make an appointment to see the director of the program so she could introduce herself, present her case, and describe how she could contribute to the program. She adhered to our advice and followed through. The director of the dance program accepted her into the program because she demonstrated initiative and a strong interest. This experience stuck with her and has had a positive impact on her interactions and relationships with teachers at Flintridge Sacred Heart.

    Cynthia (far right) in hip hop dance class

    During Cynthia’s freshman year, the first topic of the health class was about depression— what is depression, the symptoms of depression, how to detect signs of depression and what to do if your friends or fellow schoolmates have depression or, at the worst, suicidal thoughts. While Cynthia found the topic enlightening and important, her parents were bewildered that depression was the subject matter in her class. We explained to them, other than the formal studies, Flintridge Sacred Heart, as well as many other American high schools, would not hesitate to incorporate the topics that are socially relevant and personally meaningful to the students into their curriculum or class discussion. And, depression is a real, widespread problem among American youth. They appreciated this perspective.

    Cynthia and her parents on move-in day
    The high school years are critical not only for personal growth but also for shaping the value system for a young girl like Cynthia. One can imagine the extra difficulties that a foreign student can face when their family is not around for support and guidance. Cultural dissimilarities, value conflicts, language barriers, individual family backgrounds and different personalities, all these factors can be daunting and confusing. We have opportunities to discuss with Cynthia how she wants to build and shape her value system so that she knows what is important to her, and so something can back up the decisions she makes, and so she can find a way to reconcile the conflict of her family values and American values. We do not make any specific suggestions but hope that she will explore and find her own way. One thing we had mentioned to her was to think about the goal of a Flintridge Sacred Heart education— to empower young women for a life of faith, integrity and truth. Perhaps, she can build on these values and feel empowered by them.

    Cynthia’s beloved grandma died before she had the opportunity to go back to see her during spring break. Her parents struggled whether to let her know or not, because they learned she had the Dance Concert coming up, in addition to the exams and papers she had to complete. They knew the news would be devastating. We suggested they should be honest and upfront with her; we believed she had the maturity and strength to deal with it, even though she would feel very sad. More importantly, holding back the news might have a negative impact on their relationship with Cynthia. We promised to stay with Cynthia when they told her grandma had passed away, to support and comfort her. The whole incident drew us closer to Cynthia, especially emotionally.

    I only have a grown up son, who graduated from college and is working. Being a local guardian to Cynthia is like re-living my early fatherhood again but this time with a daughter.

Student Profiles

Applicant Countries

Students applying to Flintridge Sacred Heart come from around the world!


440 St. Katherine Drive
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011

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Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, a Catholic, Dominican, independent, college-preparatory, day and boarding school, educates young women for a life of faith, integrity, and truth.

Flintridge Sacred Heart admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, financial aid, and athletic and other school-administered programs.