As the new academic year begins, a Catholic high school in Montgomery County is expanding educational options for its students.

Pope John Paul II (PJP2) High School in Royersford unveiled its new Panthers’ Learning Center (PLC) at an Aug. 29 ribbon-cutting ceremony. Located in the school’s former student center, the PLC will serve as a hub for student support, offering two specialized classrooms for traditional and flexible instruction. The center’s design — centered on a Promethean ActivPanel, a large, interactive digital display screen — promotes student collaboration.

The PLC is also home to the school’s latest academic offering, the Panthers Achieving Worthwhile Success (PAWS) program, which is available to students with a diagnosed learning difference supported with an Individualized Education Plan (IEP), 504 documentation (relating to conditions specified in section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973), or a note from a medical provider.

Both the PLC and the PAWS program will be headed up by newly appointed director of academic support Joseph Rogers, who said it was “a blessing to be able to support all learners in this dynamic and beautiful space.”

With a master’s degree in special education from Saint Joseph’s University, and a recent graduate of that school’s Alliance for Catholic Education program, Rogers added he was “excited to be part of a community that intentionally designs programs to meet the needs of the students entrusted to our care.”

The PLC and PAWS initiatives were made possible by a grant from the Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education (the successor of the Archdiocesan Education Fund), created in 1967 by building contractor and former U.S. ambassador to Ireland Matthew McCloskey, Jr.

PJP2 president Vinnie Cazzetta said he was “incredibly grateful for the generous support and partnership of the Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education.”

He described the PLC and the PAWS programs as “game-changers” that enhance the school’s “ability to welcome all learners to Catholic education.”

The PLC also received additional support through the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) program, a U.S. Department of Education effort that awards grants to each state governor for distribution in turn to non-public schools as they provide learning support and mental health resources in response to the pandemic.

Those interested in obtaining more information about the PAWS program and touring the PLC are invited to PJP2’s fall open house on Oct. 6 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The school is located at 181 Rittenhouse Road in Royersford.