Before she became the senior president of A.C. Flora’s Model United Nations organization, Annie Williams was an unprepared junior who was thrown into the state conference at the last minute, staying up all night to write a dozen speeches.
“That was a way I got to push myself and go outside my comfort zone,” said Williams, who graduated from Flora Thursday.
Besides her IB workload and two-sport schedule, the Duke University-bound graduate, like many other Flora students, has been a member of numerous clubs and activities outside the classroom, from French Club to student government.
On top of a rigorous academic curriculum, the school’s array of social and cultural activities – nearly 60 clubs are on campus – has created a culture of well-roundedness at Flora.
“Part of the school’s responsibility is not just reading, writing and arithmetic. It’s creating a competitive advantage so they can move to that next level,” said Vince Ford of the Richland 1 school board.
In a decade, participation in Flora’s co-curricular scene has ballooned, principal Richard McClure said – from 30-some to more than 200 students in Youth and Government, another four- to five-fold growth in National Honor Society participation and doubled enrollment arts programs, as just some examples.
The students aren’t the only ones whose involvement has helped spur the success of the school.
Flora parents are deeply invested in the school’s success, from providing financial support through booster clubs and fundraisers to sitting on panels interviewing potential coaching hires to providing snacks and meals for students and faculty. For many parents, that involvement started early, in Flora feeder schools like Satchel Ford and Brennan elementaries.
“Parental involvement has been tremendous at Flora,” said Beatrice King, a Richland 1 school board member and Flora parent. “When parents advocate for their children, they will go to great lengths to support their school when the leadership of the school is inviting.”
Caroline Matthews is the parent of three Flora graduates, the youngest of whom graduated Thursday and will attend the honors program at Queens University in Charlotte. She credits McClure and the Flora administration with creating opportunities and inviting parents to be an active part of the school’s community.
“I think that Mr. McClure has done a great job of going to parents to find out what they think the needs are,” Matthews said. “It’s not that the parents are running the school, by any means, but I think he has done everything he can to include them in the process.”