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John Paul the Great unveils house crests

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After Mass on the first day of Catholic Schools Week, the administration of Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Dumfries unveiled the long-awaited crests of the eight school houses.

Students from each house carried in a banner featuring a colorful crest with symbols representative of each house’s patron saint.



Dominican Sister Ann Dominic Mahowald, head of the house system and religion department chair, read a description of each crest and why certain symbols were chosen. 

The crest of St. Gianna Molla, for example, has entwined wedding rings, highlighting the saint’s vocation as a wife and a mother, and a stethoscope, because she was a doctor. St. Gianna refused cancer treatment to save the life of her unborn daughter, and the four stars on the banner represent her children. 

The eight houses are: Aquino, Castello, Diego, Dominic, Gianna, Martin, More and Ruiz.

At John Paul the Great, students are sorted into one of the houses their freshman year. “When we have an identity we know we belong,” explained Sister Ann Dominic. “When we belong, we take risks and we grow. The fact that we have saints to imitate helps (the students) grow not just in this life but into eternity.”

To promote house unity, students wear house t-shirts on certain days. They have competitions to earn points for their houses; the winning house at the end of the year has greater privileges the following year. Except for seniors, lockers are grouped by house. They hope the house saints serve as an inspiration to the students, said Sister Ann Dominic.

“(But) we noticed students still struggled to know their house saint, so the crest becomes a visual symbol of the virtues and the special mission entrusted to each saint,” she said. 

Last year, the school solicited suggestions from the students on what each crest should look like. The art teachers worked together, and a final product was designed by graduate Sam Davis, now a college freshman.

“We hope the crest can be that reminder that we each have a mission, just like our saints did,” said Sister Ann Dominic.


© Arlington Catholic Herald 2018