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Graduating senior says there’s no place like John Paul

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Elizabeth Wahlin says it’s been a bit of an adventure having the last part of her senior year online and at home. Then again, most of her high school experience has been a bit of an adventure. She’s not only attended multiple schools, she’s lived in multiple countries. But she said there’s no place quite like the school she’s graduating from, St. John Paul the Great Catholic High School in Potomac Shores. “The community makes you feel like a member of family,” said Wahlin.

Wahlin was born in Germany to two U.S. Navy parents, the third of 10 children. She’s lived in many places but spent several years in Virginia and attended St. William of York School in Stafford.

Before her freshman year of high school, her family moved to Berlin. While in school there, she attended a “welcoming class” to learn German with people from all over the world, primarily refugees.

“It was amazing. Every day I learned something new,” she said. “There were people in my class from Syria, Pakistan, Russia, Ukraine, Kosovo, Bosnia. It was very interesting to see the cultural differences, but it was also very cool because we were learning German all together.”

She returned to the United States to attend John Paul the Great, then went back to Europe to live in Rome with her family, where she attended an American school. She closed out her high school education at John Paul until coronavirus pandemic safety measures brought her to the exotic locale of her family room.

While at John Paul the Great, Wahlin was president of the student council and played four sports — crew, volleyball, soccer and basketball. This fall, she plans to study biology at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, and eventually enter the medical field. She’s grateful for the education she received from her years of schooling abroad and stateside, but especially her time in Potomac Shores.

“I’ve gotten a great moral and ethical grounding. I couldn’t have asked for better role models and I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to go there,” said Wahlin. “All my other schools were fantastic, but there really is no place like John Paul.”

© Arlington Catholic Herald 2020