“I was sitting with my shadow host in the back of his class and he was cracking jokes with his friends while working on a collective project, and including me in every second of it,” says Flanagan, a native of Drexel Hill and a graduate of St. Bernadette’s School. “I was treated like another student the entire day, whether it was teachers welcoming me in every class, to the tradition of stacking food onto the shadow’s lunch tray because they had a free food pass, to the endless recommendations of which games were best to play while I sat in the back of a Latin class with a borrowed Chromebook. That was one of the happiest days of my life.”
Since then, Flanagan has made the most of his Prep experience, especially helping others. “I was attracted right away to the sense of service here, putting others before yourself,” he says. “This school embodies service. It is so important that it is part of the requirement for graduation.”
But it isn’t just the faculty or administration that stresses these values. Flanagan sees it in his friends and fellow students. “Everyone around me here is trying to be the best that they can be,” he says, “to be there for others.”
In addition to Student Council, Flanagan has also joined the Mission and Ministry Leadership Board, leading retreats and serving as a lector at Masses (which he also does at his home parish). Recently, he has joined with classmate Pat Green to start a SHM Club (Supporting Healthy Minds) to offer resources for students to get access to resources surrounding mental health issues. SHM will team up with the TMF Hawks to bring in speakers on the issue.
Another thing that Flanagan loves about the Prep is the diversity of the student body. “Before the Prep, I wasn’t exposed to much diversity,” he says. “Coming from an Irish-Catholic parish, the Prep was a big change but it wasn’t challenging at all because everyone was so open to forming new friendships.”
All of these things have made the first few years of his journey special and Flanagan knows there is more to come, even just as his senior year continues. “The Prep has pushed me beyond what I thought I was capable of,” he says.