New Catholic school to open in Montco

August 23, 2010 The days of hanging out poolside are coming to a close but for some high-schoolers they're looking forward to the upcoming school year in their new building.

"I think it's going to be so much fun because of the big auditorium, high school musical, it's crazy," said Grace McCallus.

Grace is talking about the 1200 seat, state of the art auditorium at the brand new Pope John Paul II high school, nicknamed PJP. The school, which also boasts smart board technology in each classroom, is a stark contrast to Grace's old school Kennedy-Kenrick in Norristown, which closed this year along with St.Pius X in Pottstown, to make way for PJP.

"The building was always falling down, falling apart, bathrooms always need improvement," said Maribeth McCallus.

The $65-million facility is the first new high school to be built by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in four decades. It comes as the diocese faces a major drop in enrollment, and the closing of several struggling schools.

"I think the opening of a brand new school in this day and age really shows their commitment to the importance of the catholic school education," said Father Alan Okon, President of PJP.

Father Alan Okon says they decided to make the investment in this part of the Montgomery County area because of a growing number of young families, and a promising enrollment future for the school.

"We're a strong 900; we're 50 above projection, so we're happy with the number."

Each student gets a Netbook to take home, and two classrooms offer distance learning.

From the technology, to the athletic program, all of them are big components in choosing a high school, but for the families we talked to the religious aspect is still the biggest draw.

"The upbringing of catholic school has been is just a wonderful opportunity for my kids it's made them who they are."

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