Pope John XXIII Regional High School

Pope John XXIII Regional High School

name = Pope John XXIII Regional High School

imagesize =
motto =
established = 1956
grades = 9 - 12
district = Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson
type = Catholic high school
principal = Rev. Msgr. Kieran Mchugh
viceprincipal =
enrollment = 907 (as of 2005-06)
faculty = 70.9 (on FTE basis)
ratio = 12.8
nickname = Lions
conference = Sussex County Interscholastic League
colors =
publication =
location = 28 Andover Road
Sparta, NJ 07871
information = 973-729-6125
website = [http://www.popejohn.org School website]

Pope John XXIII Regional High School is a Roman Catholic high school in Sparta Township, New Jersey. The school was founded in 1956, originally as "Our Lady Of The Lake School", and is part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson. [ [http://www.patersondiocese.org/moreinfo.cfm?Web_ID=45 Sussex County Elementary / High Schools] , Roman Catholic Diocese of Paterson. Accessed July 29, 2008.] The school name was changed to honor Pope John XXIII after his death in 1963. As of the 2005-06 school year, the school had an enrollment of 907 students and 70.9 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student-teacher ratio of 12.8. [http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/privateschoolsearch/school_detail.asp?Search=1&SchoolID=00865439&ID=00865439 Pope John XXIII Regional High School] , National Center for Education Statistics. Accessed July 29, 2008.]

Philosophy and Coursework

Pope John High School has a Catholic Christian philosophy in accordance with church teachings. The school also has a college prep course of study in academic subjects. Students are required to not only take state required courses but an additional year of Math and Science. Theology coursework is required for every marking period a student is enrolled at the school. Two years of a foreign language such as Spanish, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Arabic, Russian or Latin are also required as well as computer courses. 17 Advanced Placement Program (AP) courses are offered. An eighth grade honors program for math and science is also offered for other Catholic schools in the area, including Rev. Brown, Immaculate Conception, and St. Joseph's. The math and science taught to the eighth graders is also taught to the freshman.

Like most Catholic schools, students are required to wear uniforms. The uniform policy is often strictly enforced to ensure students live up the proper standard expected of them by the administration and faculty. Uniforms, for example, include uniform dress shoes, ties (for boys), and dress pants which are coordinated by class and change as a student moves to the next grade. The school also does not allow for any facial hair on boys or any "hair that reaches past the ear or below the collar;" infractions of proper uniform often result in punishment by the administration or faculty.

While the school is Catholic, they accept students from other Christian religions and non-Christian religions, but about 80% of the student body is Catholic. Its theological position is that of a mainstream Roman Catholic belief taking neither a progressive or traditional position. They firmly embrace Vatican II positions. On the issue of abortion, the school takes a firm pro-life stand.

History of Pope John XXIII

In 1955, Bishop James A. McAulty initiated a program to establish Catholic high schools in each of the three counties of the Diocese of Paterson – Sussex, Passaic and Morris. The Rt. Rev. Msgr. Henry Zolzer, pastor of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Franklin, and the Rev. Christian Haag, pastor of the Church of St. Monica, Sussex, were delegated by Bishop McAulty to study possible sites for a high school in Sussex County.

The Township of Sparta was selected as the most advantageous location for the new high school, and property belonging to Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Sparta, was deemed best. Originally purchased by the Rev. George A. Brown during his pastorate, negotiations with the parish’s then current pastor, Rev. John F. McKenna, began, and eleven acres for the new high school were purchased along Andover Road in Sparta.

Bishop McAulty’s realization for the great need of Catholic education, coupled with the insufficient number of secondary schools, probed to be visionary – especially in Sussex County. In the mid-50s, Sussex County – with a population of approximately 40,000 people – supported few public secondary schools. Additionally, only one Catholic elementary school, destined to become a feeder school to Pope John, existed in the county – The Rev. George Brown School in Sparta, founded in 1954 and staffed by the Benedictine Sisters.

Originally, the new high school was to be called Sussex Catholic Regional High School, but by opening day, the name had already been changed to Our Lady of the Lake High School. At the Bishop’s request, the task of staffing the school was given to the Felician Sisters of St. Francis of Assisi from their mother house in Lodi, New Jersey. Mother Antoinette sent two sisters to lay the groundwork for the new four-year, co-educational diocesan school.

In 1956 – the year of groundbreaking ceremonies for the high school – thirty-six freshmen met in the activity hall of Our Lady of the Lake Church where they were taught by Sister Mary Angelina Garbowski and Sister Mary Fustace Harczynska, assisted by two priests. The following year, ninety students were situated in classes based at St. Joseph’s School, Newton.

On May 15, 1957, Rev. John F. McKenna, the school’s first director was delegated by Bishop McAulty to bless and lay the cornerstone of the new high school. The blessing and dedication of the completed Our Lady of the Lake Diocesan High School was held on Sunday, February 2, 1958 at 3:00 p.m. and second semester classes began in the new facility. By December 1959, upon the recommendation of the New Jersey Department of Education, the school was fully accredited. In July 1964, Bishop James J. Aabagh renamed the school Pope John XXIII Regional High School in memory of the beloved pontiff.

The high school has been blessed with stability in its administration and faculty, integral to the steady increase in student population and growing reputation for excellence in academics. Members of the Felician Order served as principal from the years 1956-1965. Rev. Msgr. James Gaquin, who had served as Director of the high school with the Sisters from 1964, was named principal in 1975. Following Father Gaquin’s tenure in 1977, Rev. Msgr. John Boland served until 1979, when Rev. Msgr. Kieran Mchugh was named as principal and serves to the present day.

During all of those years, Sussex County enticed more and more people to its picturesque lakes, streams, hills, and valleys. As freshman classes increased at a relatively exponential rate, additions to the high school were necessary. In 1966, another twenty-nine acres were purchased for future expansion of the school’s facilities. The Sisters allowed theology, art, and music classes to be held in the convent basement, as intermittently, in the 1970s (and into the 1980s), portable classrooms were used on occasion. In 1973, the library building was added adjacent to the original building. The library building was then later demolished to make room for The Bella Biondo Research Center as part of the mid-1990s building campaign; in 1980, Pope John temporarily moved its first year students to St. Paul’s Abbey in Andover. Finally, in 1986, the addition of ten classrooms, a computer center, a music room, and an art room was completed.

While the diocese hoped the 1980s addition would be sufficient to hold the increasing student population, the mid-1990s found the school grounds to be too small to provide a conducive learning environment. A campaign for the construction of a library, science laboratories, chorus, band, and auxiliary music rooms, art room, chapel, Bella Biondo Research Center, new gymnasium, locker rooms, nurse’s office, and guidance suite was begun in 1995, with groundbreaking ceremonies for the new building in the fall of 1997.

Extracurricular activities

The Pope John XXIII Regional High School Lions participate in the Sussex County Interscholastic League. The school is categorized by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA) as Non-Public North, Group A.

Through the years, its football team has had a great amount of success accumulating 20 state championships under coach Victor Paternostro. In 2002, the football team won the Parochial 2 state sectional championship with a 41-12 win against Queen of Peace High School in the tournament final. [ [http://www.bracketmaker.com/tmenu.cfm?tid=25369&tclass=Parochial%202 2002 Football - Parochial 2] , NJSIAA. Accessed July 29, 2007.]

In 2005-06, the hockey team advanced to the state semi-finals, where they lost 3-2 to the Delbarton School. [ [http://www.bracketmaker.com/tmenu.cfm?tid=144340&tclass=Non%2DPublic NJSIAA 2006 Ice hockey - Non-Public] , New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association, accessed June 13, 2006] The 2003-04 team was the champions of the Northern Red division, going undefeated in conference play and winning the conference tournament. The 2002-03 team had lost the previous year in the conference championship game after winning the conference regular season title. [http://www.njhockey.org/archives/2003-04NJStandings.html]

In March, 2008, the Pope John Ski Team won its first State Championship.

Possible removal from the SCIL

Certain institutions, more specifically some proximate public high schools, claim Pope John's football team is often too strong and should not be competing with other public school teams, and thus removed from certain competition from the other teams within the SCIL. They argue that Pope John recruits and is able to attract players from a more diversified region, whereas public schools are only limited to their respective district. Despite specific requests and complaints, many public schools have competed successfully against Pope John in several sports including wrestling, swimming, basketball, and baseball. The debate reached its pinnacle when Pope John went undefeated in their football season of 2006, giving them their 17th league championship in just 31 years. Most adamant about this issue is Wallkill Valley Regional High School Athletic Director, Mike Van Zile, though this is most likely because Walkill loses all their football games to Pope John and other schools in general. Some have argued that kicking out Pope John from the SCIL because of their success would reward mediocrity. The debate slowed down in 2007 when Kittatinny won its first ever SCIL football title in the 2007 football season.

MySpace publishing ban

The school has told its students to take down their pages from sites such as Xanga and MySpace or face suspension, forbidding use of the sites even away from school on their own computers, a ban that put the school in newspapers across the nation. [Zeller Jr., Tom. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9904E1D7163EF930A35752C1A9639C8B63 "The Lives of Teenagers Now: Open Blogs, Not Locked Diaries"] , "The New York Times", November 3, 2005. Accessed December 10, 2007. "Last week, Pope John XXIII Regional High School in Sparta, N.J., announced that students who posted on MySpace.com or similar sites faced possible suspension from school, citing concerns that students were unwittingly revealing too much information about themselves to potential cyberpredators."] [Kornblum, Janet. [http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2006-01-08-myspace-sidebar_x.htm "Adults question MySpace's safety"] , "USA Today", January 8, 2006. Accessed December 10, 2007. "And at least one private school, Pope John XXIII High School in Sparta, N.J., recently made headlines when it told students that they could face suspension for using the site even off campus."] Rev. Kieran McHugh, the school's principal, said that he was trying to protect students from online predators. [ [http://www.dailyrecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051024/NEWS01/510240324/1005 Blogging ban provokes a debate over cyberspace: Pope John H.S. demands that online profiles end, calls forums havens for sexual predators] , "Daily Record (Morristown)", October 24, 2005.] The rule is generally not enforced except in extreme situations (such as the safety or reputation of one or more people would be in jeopardy). Students have been faced with a day of suspension for any such accounts. In practice, many students continue to have a MySpace account or have turned to Facebook.


External links

* [http://www.popejohn.org Pope John XXIII High School]
* [http://www.njit.edu/president/annualreport/2007/Shaping_Tomorrow_s_Technologies.pdf NJIT High School summer internship program]
* [http://nces.ed.gov/surveys/pss/privateschoolsearch/school_detail.asp?Search=1&SchoolID=00865439&ID=00865439 Data for Pope John XXIII Regional High School] , National Center for Education Statistics

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