By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer

The school bell will sound for the final time at St. Pius X High School in Pottstown and Kennedy-Kenrick Catholic High School in Norristown in June.

In September, the closing schools will be replaced by the opening of Pope John Paul II High School in Royersford, a $65 million state-of-the-art archdiocesan secondary school in central Montgomery County.

St. Pius X High was founded in 1954 and dedicated in 1955.

Margot Sikorski will graduate first in St. Pius’ final class of graduates. “I’m just really honored to be a part of the long-lasting legacy that Pius has been, and always will be,” she said.

The legacy of the school, she said, is a family-like atmosphere. {{more}}

Another legacy of “the little school on the hill” – as called by the local community – is the long-standing “Pius pride,” said David Psota, a 1963 St. Pius graduate who is a retired teacher and coach of the school and president of the alumni association.

He taught social studies at the school from 1967 to 2008. He also served as head coach of the baseball team and golf club and was an assistant football coach.

“It was never difficult for me to go into school every day and work,” he said. “It really wasn’t like work. The kids made it enjoyable. They were cooperative, helpful, enthusiastic, and yet they were kids. They had a great sense of pride in the little school called St. Pius X.”

He and his wife’s two daughters are also graduates of the school.

Kennedy-Kenrick opened in September 1993.

It descended from St. Matthew Parochial High School in Conshohocken and St. Patrick High School in Norristown.

St. Matthew High opened in 1866, became a diocesan high school in 1955 and its name changed to Archbishop Kennedy High School in 1966.

St. Patrick High School in Norristown opened in 1941 and became a diocesan high school named Bishop Kenrick High in 1955.

“Kennedy-Kenrick was a great school, and for us to be able to close it out and really leave our mark on the student body is something special,” said Shohom Basuthakur, who will graduate first in the final class of graduates.

The first day he walked into the school four years ago, he didn’t know a soul, but the other students acted as though they’d known him for years, he said. “I’ve made friends for a lifetime. We might not have a building anymore, but we’ll always have our memories. Thank you for the fun. Thanks for the memories. It’s been great.”

To commemorate Kennedy-Kenrick’s 17th and final year, the school marked the 17th of each month with a special event.

At Kennedy-Kenrick, “We’ve been going through a grieving process,” said Louise Eckert, director of counseling at Kennedy-Kenrick and a 1979 alumna of Bishop Kenrick High. “It is such a part of my history, my family history, my neighborhood history.

“As much as there’s excitement for the new school, it’s not going to be the same, and you wouldn’t expect it to be. It’s very bittersweet.”

However, the students are amazing, Eckert said, in that “despite the mixed feelings and the sadness of the closing of ‘their school,’ they are optimistic and energized with the idea of creating a new spirit at Pope John Paul II High, with traditions to begin, new friends to embrace and new standards to set.”

St. Pius X and Kennedy-Kenrick have strong legacies because of the dedication that has spanned generations, said Father Alan J. Okon, the president of both schools and of Pope John Paul II High.

“The dedication of these people has enabled both St. Pius and Kennedy-Kenrick to be vibrant Catholic school communities in the Pottstown and Norristown neighborhoods.”

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