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Helping to form Christ in the lives of others

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As Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries begins its 11th year, it continues to grow and unite under the theme “Crystal Clear in Christ.”

“St. John Paul taught us that the goal of Catholic education is communicating Christ and forming Christ in the lives of others,” said Dominican Sister Mary Veronica, principal. “This is the goal of all we do at John Paul. Therefore, we must provide an outstanding education that addresses the whole person: academically, physically and spiritually. We had a beautiful decade of success. As we advance even more, we are going to continue capitalizing on our call to greatness.”

The school welcomes eight new faculty members, including Jack Anderson, Caitlyn Flay, Jim Florio, Edward Heffernan, Kerry Kaminski, Isaac Kassock, Hassan Moore and Mary Sinnott.

Kaminski brings a strong resume as chair of the school’s Special Services Department. She has experience in special education, paired with a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University in Washington and a master’s degree in conflict analysis and resolution from George Mason University in Fairfax.

New academic endeavors include expanding the Media and Communication Department through the utilization of its own radio station and studio.

“In addition to academic support, we have launched a formalized program within our Special Services Department called the Laudare Program,” said Adam Bigbee, assistant principal of academics.

“This program is a small group environment that can meet the needs of students with specific learning disabilities,” Bigbee said. “We are giving even more opportunities to students who beforehand were not able to receive a genuine Catholic education at the high school level.”

New to the athletic program this fall, the school will host home football games at a new stadium.

“It is amazing that in just a few months the facility experience for our student-athletes has been transformed,” said athletic director Chris Vander Woude. “Our outdoor facilities have reached an elite level through the renovation and expansion of our playing fields, including an agreement with Prince William County. We now have access to eight athletic fields, including two artificial turf and Bermuda fields.”

The school welcomes new varsity head coaches — Donald Turner for boys football, Jay Jesse for boys soccer and Laurie Stio for girls cheer. In addition, the school has added tennis to its extensive list of sports. Girls’ tennis will compete this fall under the direction of Frank Kingett.

“Athletics at John Paul is an excellent vehicle for students to develop a sense of Christian brotherhood or sisterhood amongst their peers,” Jesse said. “On the boys soccer team we seek to discover a greater sense of Christian masculinity as the boys come to understand more deeply their call to be self-sacrificing, to persevere in the face of adversity, to pursue excellence with integrity and to grow closer to Christ who offers his wisdom and strength to make it all possible.”

Dominican Sister Ann Dominic, director of the house system, said, “School has not even started and our senior servant leaders are already back on campus to prepare a warm welcome for the incoming students. Each year the senior servant leaders brainstorm and execute an amazing house reveal for the freshman. We can’t wait to welcome all new students home.”

From the classroom, to the fields, stages and the sacraments, John Paul the Great is thriving. Highlights during the coming year include bioethics seminars, the Oct. 5 homecoming game and an open house Nov. 4.

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018