History of Little Flower Catholic Elementary School in Rugby, ND

In May of 1941, a Mr. Pluth called at the rectory in Rugby for the purpose of selling materials he was salvaging from a school he was wrecking in Chisholm, Minnesota. There was only one question in the mind of Father Cloos as he listened to Mr. Pluth, “Where was he going to get the money?” Mr. Pluth was too determined a salesman to accept a flat rejection. Mr. Pluth left Rugby and drove directly to Fargo to ask Bishop Muench for the answer. A few days later Bishop Muench wrote to Father Cloos and informed him of the visit from Mr. Pluth and advising the pastor of the need and important advantages of a school at Rugby, and assuring him that the Diocese would help along with the project to the amount of $1,000 a year for 10 years.

Mr. Pluth accompanied Father Cloos to Chisholm to inspect the building. On arriving in Chisholm Father Cloos found that the building was in good condition and that very little additional material would be needed. By the end of November the trucks began rolling into Rugby with the materials and the problem of where to store them. This problem was solved and by the end of January all the material salvaged from the school at Chisholm was on the building site in Rugby.

December 7, 1941, Japan perpetrated the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and overnight we found ourselves at war with Japan. This created new problems with a building permit and being able to get materials for the project. Finally in May the building permit was issued, stipulating that the building was not to cost more that $30,000, and that less than 10% of the materials were to be purchased after May 1. Joseph Hoffart was engaged as building engineer and ground was broken May 17th. Farmers came with their tractors and scrapers and within two days had completed the excavation. Five days later the footings were poured and the cribbing begun for the foundation walls. In December an inspector returned and was surprised that the building was completed, and after studying the invoices and labor sheets was satisfied that the total cost was as claimed and within the building permit restrictions.

Little Flower School opened its doors September 14, 1942, with an enrollment of 156 students and a faculty of four sisters from the Franciscan Convent at Hankinson, North Dakota.

Growth was characteristic of Little Flower the last 25 years. Little Flower School, an important entity of the parish, grew and improved academically and structurally. With the establishment of a Diocesan Superintendent of Schools as a full-time position, Little Flower received the encouragement, support, and direction to continue to work for excellence in education. A quality education and individual pupil attention were two points stressed. This meant hiring only certified teachers, reduction of number of pupils per teacher, and the addition of a physical education teacher and a part-time librarian.

Under the direction of the Diocesan Superintendent and the newly-organized Fargo Catholic Principals Association, the curriculum was examined and re-evaluated, followed by textbook changes. The next change was the introduction of teacher in-services; monthly, then weekly faculty meetings; continuing education of the teachers; and the annual reports to the State Department of Education. When the State Department introduced evaluation for accreditation, Little Flower received excellent evaluation and continued to do so through the years. In the classrooms appeared equipment such as overhead projectors, listening & learning centers, cassette tape players, filmstrip projectors, and science centers.

Little Flower also benefited from federally funded programs. Help was offered in speech, learning disabilities, and special education. Certain criteria needed to be met prior to receiving these benefits. Special arrangements were made with Ely Elementary so our students could walk over to classes at their school. After a few years and a new interpretation of the law, the Title instructors were permitted to use Little Flower classroom time. Little Flower for a short period of time had a full-time learning disabilities and a part-time speech teacher. Later federal funds were cut and so were these positions.

The mid-seventies brought the decline of religious vocations; the financial burden brought the closing of the 7th and 8th grades, leaving only grades one through six.

The early eighties brought the kindergarten class to Little Flower making the school Kindergarten through Grade 6. During the years there has been tremendous growth in Little Flower; a Parent Teacher Organization. Parent-teacher conferences, the celebration of Catholic Schools Week, etc. There have also been many efforts to raise money for the extra needs of the school.

From 1987-88, James Kappel as our principal. He firmly believed in technology in the classrooms. Through funds provided by the Eagles, the KC’s, and the Christian Mothers, the school was able to obtain several computers.

In 1986, a federal grant was received by the school from the Department of Energy, providing a new roof.  The large windows were enclosed and insulated. The school again received a coat of paint from gracious parents.

In 2002 the school celebrated 60 years in Rugby.  In 2008 an alumni organization was revived and a newsletter was started, Blue Jay Briefings.

The history of Little Flower School would not be possible without the generous volunteers, family support, and the Sisters of Saint Francis of Hankinson. These people make Little Flower School a community to be proud of with their time, talents, energy and extra money which goes to improve the spiritual and academic growth of Little Flower students.