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Saint Patrick School: Education, Tradition, Faith, and Excellence

By David Boegaard

Saint Patrick School is a coeducational school in Carlisle, PA. Offering education to almost 300 students, from pre-K to 8th grade, Saint Patrick is oriented toward the Catholic faith but welcomes students of all faiths and creeds.

Ricman Fly, Principal of the Saint Patrick School since 2005, spent 26 years in the U.S. Air Force. Once he had left the service, he searched for ways to serve outside of the military. Fly says his highest priority was that he "wanted to continue to serve my community and hopefully my Faith." He returned to college for an education degree and applied for a position as the principal of Saint Patrick School. "I was fortunate to get selected," notes Fly with humility. But he also felt rightly that "the principal position was the best fit for me given the positions I had held in the Air Force."

Under Fly's command, Saint Patrick School is a center where learning occurs both inside and outside of the classroom. "We have the full range of academic subjects, excellent facilities, and a wide range of extracurricular activities," says Fly. "For academics, the events are numerous: science fairs, National History Day, spelling bees, Quizbowl, math teams, etc."

Fly tells us that Saint Patrick achieves academic excellence by combining a "safe, nurturing environment" with high expectations. Every year, the school scores in the top 10% on The Iowa Test of Basic Skills, a national assessment test. That's a record that any principal would be proud of having.

Although Saint Patrick is a Catholic school, it prides itself on inclusivity. "Everyone is welcome at Saint Patrick School!" Fly assures us. About 10% of the population is non-Catholic. Twenty percent receive need-based scholarships. And that's not the end of Saint Patrick's diversity, suggests Fly. "We often have students from foreign countries whose parents are at the Army War College."

In order to make sure that all these students succeed, it is important that the school allow various opportunities for students to grow and experiment with arts and activities, as well as form strong communal bonds. Students participate in everything from athletics and music groups to chess club and theatre. While everyone is welcome and made to feel included, Saint Patrick School is a Catholic school. As such, they work hard to make sure that faith events are taken seriously. "The most significant events to achieve our religious mission," says Fly "are 1st Communion for the second graders and Confirmation for our eighth graders."

And in keeping with Fly's long service with the U.S. Air Force, Saint Patrick provides opportunities to learn about and support soldiers and veterans. "This helps us with our mission to raise engaged citizens who are proud of their country," says Fly. On Veterans Day, the school hosts over a hundred veterans for a school-wide celebration, complete with a program of patriotic songs.

"Put all of this together," says Fly "and you get a National Blue Ribbon School of Excellence, a U.S. Department of Education distinction we received that reflects the commitment of our families, the hard work of our students, and the dedication and excellence of our faculty."

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