Dominican Sisters Mary Jordan Hoover and Mary Brigid Burnham survey the construction of the forthcoming St. John Paul II Catholic High School with site superintendent Byron Crutchfield when they visited the campus Aug. 10. (Courtesy of Sr. Mary Jordan Hoover, OP)

AVONDALE — Excitement is building among the community as, brick by brick, the St. John Paul II Catholic High School campus begins to take shape.

Sr. Mary Jordan Hoover, OP, principal of the new high school, said that after spending 10 weeks in a Spanish-immersion program in Guatemala, she is eager to resume the work of establishing the school, as the walls of the gym and academic buildings are going up and steel rebar glints in the summer sun.

“We are building more than a building — we are building a culture,” she said. “Many people have expressed interest in helping us to keep this project moving forward.”

Sr. Mary Jordan will be visiting West Valley parishes and holding information sessions in the months ahead. She said one of the things she is looking forward to the most is meeting future students and their families. The school will begin accepting student applications in October.

Come August 2018, St. John Paul II Catholic High School will open with its first freshman and sophomore classes. Many of the students will hail from Catholic elementary schools in the area. “Our first graduation will be in 2021,” Sr. Mary Jordan said.

Visit St. John Paul II Catholic High School

Virtually via back-to-school building pictures

Volunteer orientation Aug. 19

Open house Oct. 22

Melissa Shulski lives in Goodyear and has two children who attend St. John Vianney Catholic School. She leaves her house at 6:15 each weekday morning during the school year in order to get her older daughter to Xavier College Preparatory by 7:45 a.m.

“We never know how traffic will be,” Shulski said. She’s hoping her son, Paul, now an eighth-grader, will be one of the first to attend St. John Paul II Catholic High School.

“He’d be in the first freshmen class,” Shulski said. Paul has been excited about the prospect, she said, since the Dominican Sister who taught him religion last year at St. John Vianney will be on staff at the new high school when it opens next year.

Harry A. Plummer, superintendent of the Diocese of Phoenix Catholic Schools, said that currently, hundreds of families in the far West Valley send their children to public high schools because they don’t have an alternative. For some, the hour-long commute to St. Mary’s High School, Bourgade Catholic High School, Brophy Colllege Preparatory or Xavier isn’t feasible.

As construction continues during late summer and fall, St. John Paul II Catholic High School is developing in other ways too, Plummer said.

“In addition to the three Dominican Sisters of St. Cecelia working at the school presently, two additional employees began Aug. 14 — the director of admissions/marketing and the operations coordinator,” he said. School administration will be posting teaching positions in December or January of this school year.

Plummer said progress on the development of the school is going well and that the local Church could look forward to regular updates. He asked for prayers for the project, calling it an “exciting enterprise.”

In the meantime, Shulski, and other parents like her, will continue to drive hundreds of miles each week in order for their children to receive a Catholic education. Shulski has a friend who shares the load, bringing the kids home in the afternoon. They’re excited about the new high school.