By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

UPPER PROVIDENCE TOWNSHIP – Construction on the new Pope John Paul II High School in Upper Providence, Montgomery County, is 85 percent complete.

But the biggest news is that the new students will be issued netbooks, or mini-laptop computers, when the school opens in September upon the consolidation of Pope Pius X High School in Pottstown and Kennedy-Kenrick Catholic High School in Norristown.

Their teachers will also reap technological tools of their own, as each will receive a standard-size laptop computer.

The $65 million state-of-the-art archdiocesan secondary school in central Montgomery County is being built on an 84-acre tract of land in Upper Providence Township, off the Royersford exit of U.S. Route 422.

At 209,000 square feet, Pope John Paul II High, located at the intersection of Rittenhouse and Township Line roads, will have a capacity for 1,200 students with the potential for more.

The school’s course catalog is complete, and features an accelerated honors program and a standard academic program.

A number of advanced placement courses will be offered. In addition to core courses and yearly electives, a new cluster of quarterly elective programs will be offered.

Students will take four cluster electives – one per quarter – studying a wide range of subjects, among them: a math course thatfeatures Alice, a geometry-based 3D educational computer software program that creates animation for storytelling and interactive games; and English courses that include print journalism and a mystery and detective fiction course titled, “Who Done It?”

John Paul II High will offer interdisciplinary teaching methods across its curriculum. For example, when students are studying world history, they will also be studying world literature.

Students who hope to one day work in the computer and business industries will be pleased to know that the school will also be a Microsoft IT Academy, providing certification in Microsoft and related software.

Overseeing the development of the new school is its first president, Father Alan J. Okon, currently the president of St. Pius X and Kennedy-Kenrick. He is assisted by the principal, Judy Owens, who is currently the principal of St. Pius X High School, and Sister Janet Purcell, I.H.M., the assistant principal for academic affairs who is currently the principal of Kennedy-Kenrick High.

“John Paul II continues to progress very nicely – there are hundreds of people working on the site every day,” Father Okon said of the construction status.

The brick structure is completely enclosed. Work on the mechanical systems is nearly complete. Throughout most of the building, ceiling tiles have been installed while the carpeting and floor tile work are under way.

A final coat of paint has been applied to most of the walls of the classrooms.

Work is also under way on a 6-foot bronze statue of Pope John Paul II, which will stand in an outdoor plaza in front of the building.

The school chapel, situated in the front center of the building, will feature a stained glass window from the now-closed Most Blessed Sacrament Church in Southwest Philadelphia. Restoration on the window – a depiction of Jesus giving the keys of the kingdom to St. Peter, with St. Peter’s Basilica in the background – is nearly complete.

Equipment is installed in the science classrooms, lab prep rooms and laboratories, and furniture for the entire school has been ordered. All six athletic fields are completed, and other landscaping work is progressing on schedule.

Orientation days for faculty, students and parents are scheduled for the fourth week in August.

“As each day goes forward, the vision of the future, the creation of the community of John Paul II High School becomes more concrete,” Father Okon said.

“This is an exciting moment in the history of Catholic education in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, especially here in Montgomery County as we proceed through the 21st century” and explore “what this school will be able to offer the students and the faculty – a solid, well-crafted Catholic education.”

For more information about Pope John Paul II High School, including registration guidelines, call Meghan Callen, director of admissions, at 610-275-8862 or visit the web site

CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or