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One School’s Momentum

The First Annual St. LauRUNtius 5K Race Kicks Off A Series Of Support Initiatives

With the ups and downs St. Laurentius has had this year, it is an understatement to say that it has been a wild ride. Early in the year, an announcement came from the Archdiocese that the Blue Ribbon Commission recommended the school be merged with Saint Peter’s in Northern Liberties. The St. Laurentius community rallied and appealed that decision and won. There is a newfound energy in the neighborhood, a momentum of positivity that is snowballing through past, present, and future St. Laurentius parishioners. The community is taking advantage of that momentum and steamrolling that enthusiasm into events that will hopefully put the school in a position to never again be in jeopardy.

Last weekend, the First Annual St. Laurentius 5K Run and Finish Line Festival kicked off on a beautiful sunny Saturday. The event had quite a turnout. A.J. Thomson, one of the primary organizers of the run and a member of the St. Laurentius Development Committee, reports, “Almost 300 runners and walkers toed the starting line and made their way through the streets of Fishtown as part of a day-long event to raise funds to enhance the educational offerings at St. Laurentius School.”

Thomson has a deep sense of pride in his grade school alma mater, and has been rallying to promote the importance of the school in the neighborhood since the news of the Blue Ribbon Commission’s recommendation. Thomson stated, “Just as the one-thousand who marched those same streets in protest of the failed Archdiocesan plan to close the school, these participants sought to show the Fishtown neighborhood that St. Laurentius is a vibrant school community.”

On Saturday, the 26th District police, led by Sgt. Bernard, Officer Joe Goodwin and a number of other dedicated bike officers, secured the race route and kept all participating runners safe from car traffic. Runners and walkers started the race at Tulip and Hewson Streets. From there, they made their way down Tulip to Cumberland, then over to Gaul, then down to Montgomery. The route also ran through Thompson, Palmer and Memphis Streets with points in between. Kyle Francis, age 17, won the race in 17 minutes and 38 seconds. Erin Wasnick, 32, won the women’s race in 22 minutes and 54 seconds. 7th Grader- Marissa Murphy was the first student to finish, winning the “20 & Under Age Group” race.  Joe Beck and Rebecca Valentine were the Alumni Award Winners.

A post-race block party was held at the Finish Line Festival. The Starboard Side’s Saturday night DJ, Edgie Lesinski kept the crowd pumped with music. According to Thomson, “The event even had a possible world-record for participation in a dance of “The Hustle,” the second grade students’ official dance, taught by Ms. Griffith.” Kids of all ages had tons of fun jumping on moon bounces. They had their faces painted and simply enjoyed the beautiful sunny day. The Pizza Truck and Festival Foods provided delicious refreshments, in addition to those donated by Philadelphia Brewing Company and Liberties Restaurant and Bar.

“Events like these build community while raising funds for our students,” said Thomson, “In planning today’s race, we hoped to establish a fun neighborhood-wide event to celebrate our school, its students, its families and its tradition of service for over 120 years. Looking around today at hundreds of people enjoying themselves, we certainly accomplished that.”

All in all, the event exceeded expectations and helped raise almost $20,000 for St. Laurentius School. There was a remarkable amount of support from local sponsors, including the Penn Treaty Special Services District.  “We are deeply grateful to our sponsors and we know that their support for an event like this will be remembered.  We couldn’t do it without them,” said Sue Phillips, a Development Committee member.

As the positive momentum continues to roll and expand, the St. Laurentius community will continue to plan events to support the school. The next big event is the “Roar at the Shore” Fundraiser at Keenan’s in North Wildwood on July 15th. Tickets will be available in May. To keep up with all of the positive happenings with the school, you can visit www.stlaurentius.org for up-to-date information.

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