New campus ministry chaplain at Mary Washington; grads volunteer as missionaries; and more.
Activity Center Ushers in New Era at Paul VI H.S.
By Denis Brosnan
Herald Staff Writer
(From the issue of 8/21/03)

FAIRFAX CITY Paul VI Catholic High School will usher in the 2003-04 academic year with the completion of the new student activity center. The two-story building features a new gymnasium, locker rooms, computer lab, coaches' offices and a wrestling room.

"With the completion of the student activity center, I believe we have established ourselves as one of the top high schools in the Washington-metropolitan area," said Principal Philip Robey.

The gymnasium has a total capacity of 1,600 and 1,200 for athletic events — a far cry from the couple hundred that the old gymnasium could hold. The new gym will host basketball games and volleyball matches. The old gym will continue to be used for physical education classes and intramural events.

According to Robey, the total cost of the activity center is $6.5 million, which was constructed by Coakley Williams Construction Co.

Although the center is being built on once-student parking, Robey says with the addition of parking in the front of the school, only eight or nine spaces will be actually lost.

Robey said one of the most important and exciting additions of the center is the new computer lab, situated on the second level.

"With our fourth computer lab, we are really on the 'cutting edge' of the technology world."

Paul VI is currently involved in a technology partnership with Boston University and University of Richmond.

One of the main priorities for Robey was to make the building an "activity center" in every sense of the word.

"I didn?t just want this to be used for athletics. I wanted academics and athletics to be integrated into a building. And that is what we have here," he said.

The opening of the activity center is especially exciting for Paul VI Booster president Tony Conques. Conques, who has seen three of his children graduate from Paul VI, attended Fairfax High School when it was in the building Paul VI now uses.

"For me, it is really exciting to see the school evolve from what it once was," he said. "I am really excited for the students to have the opportunity to use a brand-new facility."

In addition to the new gym and computer lab, the activity center features new boys and girls locker rooms. The locker rooms have a separate area that visiting teams can use as well.

For the students of Paul VI, the activity center presents unique opportunities.

"What we had before was a mediocre gymnasium, and now we have a state-of-the-art facility," said junior Wolfgang Richter. "By building this activity center, PVI is giving its students knowledge and experience that can last a lifetime."

Junior Marie Zapolski, a member of the varsity tennis and lacrosse teams, says the activity center will help the school come closer as a community.

"I think the school spirit and pride in Paul VI will definitely increase with the addition of the new activity center," she said. "Being able to have functions like pep rallies will bring the school closer together."

Despite a ground-breaking in the spring of 2001, construction of the building did not begin until last November. Robey said this summer's wet conditions have slowed construction but it will still be ready for the opening day of the school year.

Although the major improvements made to the building have been under Robey's tenure, he remains modest.

"The idea of improving the building was made long before I ever got here," he said. "I'm simply following plans that were already set in motion."

While Robey has been principal, the school has also replaced $1 million worth of windows.

"For the money we have spent, we have done extremely well," he said.

Robey stressed that enrollment will not increase because of the recent additions.

"We are committed to maintaining our enrollment to its current size," he said. "I expect the admission process for students to become more competitive in the coming years."

The activity center will be blessed by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde on Oct. 12. The event will mark the beginning of the school's homecoming week. Copyright 2003 Arlington Catholic Herald.  All rights reserved.

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