My boarding experience made me an independent woman who is able to take care of myself. It has prepared me for college and adult life. I learned to develop different life skills, including cooking, doing laundry, cleaning up my room, and time management. In addition, my interpersonal skills allowed me to empathize with others’ perspectives and appreciate cultural differences. I saw how my role at school and community allowed me to find a way to cooperate with other passionate minds to preserve and promote diversity.
Living with 55 sisters is a very unique experience. You get to meet people from all over the world, such as China, Japan, and other European countries. In the boarding hall, we have different hall activities to bond us together, We celebrate each others’ birthdays at monthly birthday dinners and learn about others’ cultures. This year we organized the mid-autumn festival to celebrate Chinese culture and eat moon cakes. Our 55 sisters make this hall full of fun and diversity.
Living in Southern California has been my dream my whole life. Of course, the weather is super friendly, I love sunny days and there is not much rain for the whole year in California. I also enjoy playing golf, and Flintridge Sacred Heart’s perfect location allows me to do that because there’s a very nice golf course called Brookside Golf course 10 minutes from the school.
In addition, the school is built on the top of a hillside in La Cañada, which gives you a perfect view of Los Angeles. I personally think it is even better than the view at the Griffith Observatory. The boarding faculty also arrange various trips to experience the LA area. We have big outings like day trips to Disney and Universal Studio each year. We also have a grand LA tour during the orientation week, plus outings to Santa Monica, Santa Barbara, and Malibu to play around at the beach.
This year we worked especially hard as a Boarding Council team under our new boarding director, Dr. James. We’ve started many new changes and tried to create an inclusive, kind, and engaged community. As a leader, I learned that I must actively listen to others’ needs first before carrying out plans. I have met each boarding student, led weekly council meetings and serve as an active facilitator among different stakeholders. My definition of leadership is to engage and demonstrate by doing.
To break the boundary between boarders and day students, I invited the day students to join our boarding hall activities and engaged them with our boarding life. As a consequence, the boarding students in the hall have become more confident and comfortable to interact with the day students, and our hall feels more alive with more diverse voices.
One of my family’s friends recommended the school. We came to visit on our own once during the Christmas break and saw the boarding hall promotion video on the website. Then, I decided that’s the school I want to go to because of its beautiful view and warm atmosphere.
The Boarding Experience: A Parent's Perspective
by Song Liu (Joy '19)
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. My daughter Joy’s experience is a fascinating look at life as a boarding student at Flintridge Sacred Heart.
Before coming to Flintridge Sacred Heart, Joy attended a large high school with 800 students. She did not know all of the 180 students in her grade, and the class sizes were larger than at Flintridge Sacred Heart. She was very shy and had little confidence in herself. Her math teacher did not have much time to meet with her outside of class during school hours. In addition to developing academic strength, we wanted our daughter to become a virtuous person who can tell right from wrong in our complicated world. Flintridge Sacred Heart offers exactly what we were looking for. Its small class sizes and Catholic values have helped form her faith and encouraged her to develop into a moral, committed and responsible person who is also an excellent student.
This all began with orientation before she started her first year at Flintridge Sacred Heart. It was a fun and engaging week. On her first day, the boarding staff and senior students hosted a variety of activities to help students get acquainted quickly. Joy was happy that she made a couple of friends on her first day at Flintridge Sacred Heart! I find the one-week new student and boarder orientation very special at Flintridge Sacred Heart, while most other schools only give two or three days. It is not only full of fun activities, but also allows them to build life-long friendships, show respect to different cultures, and develop a strong sisterhood with each other.
Throughout the school year, the boarding staff arranges many trips and retreats for boarding students. They also look carefully at each girl's cultural background and mixes them up into different groups, so groups may differ by background but share similar hobbies and personalities. Joy’s group has girls from Vietnam and Japan. She enjoys living with them as if they were family.
At FSHA, girls can comprehend their value and capabilities in ways that have nothing to do with how they look or whom they date. FSHA nurtures individuality. As a result, the girls are more likely to express themselves and share their feelings in such a close-knit community. The teachers here are all loving and caring mentors. This prepares the girls to be self-disciplined, engaged, upbeat and dedicated to what their passions are. I found Joy becomes more and more confident, comfortable making her own decisions and determined in guiding her own course of life. We are excited to see this change in her over such a short time. We know it is FSHA that makes the difference for Joy!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Boarding Student Blog Posts
Blog posts by and about Flintridge Sacred Heart boarding students.
Students applying to Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy come from around the world!
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy is an all girls' Catholic, Dominican, independent, college-preparatory day and boarding high school in the hills of La Cañada Flintridge. Overlooking Pasadena, FSHA educates girls from Los Angeles, Southern California and around the world for a life of faith, integrity and truth.
Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy
440 St. Katherine Drive La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011 High School Office: 626-685-8300 Admissions: 626-685-8521