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CURRENT ISSUE:  August 7, 2006VOL. 44, NO. 14Oakland, CA

New high school to be named for John Paul II

The long-held dream of a Catholic high school in the Tri-Valley area is inching closer to reality and might open as early as the fall of 2008. When it does admit students, they will be the first class of Pope John Paul II Catholic High School near the Springtown exit in north Livermore.

Mark De Marco, school superintendent, said the school’s name reflects its identity – Catholic in values and contemporary in academic excellence.

“Pope John Paul was enthusiastic about teens, always encouraging them to live their faith in the world. This school will give its students the spiritual, social and academic tools to do that,” he said.

Signature Properties, a real estate development company, has come forward with generous support of start-up costs, said De Marco, which has enabled the Oakland Diocese to proceed with plans to build the school on 120 acres co-owned by the diocese and Catholic cemeteries. The 178,000 square-foot building will sit on 32 acres, surrounded by scenic open space, including two arroyos.

A committee of high school teachers and administrators is working with an architectural firm and the diocesan school department on the school’s design.

The classroom space will be flexible to allow for various types of learning environments, said Holy Names Sister Barbara Bray, associate superintendent who is overseeing the project. It will also be “state of the art” in terms of science and technology, she said.

But, she added, its most distinctive characteristic will be the ways in which the building and curriculum incorporate Catholic identity and Catholic social teaching.

For example, the school chapel will be in the center of the campus at the intersection of all its walkways. Stained glass windows salvaged from St. Francis de Sales Cathedral when it was demolished will be incorporated into the chapel and placed in some of the buildings, she said.

To promote care of creation, the buildings will be energy efficient and environmentally appropriate, added Sister Bray, noting that solar panels will be used to meet some energy needs.

De Marco said the entire project will cost about $75 million. Plans are underway to solicit funds from major donors. Construction could begin as early as January 2007.

The campus will accommodate up to 1,600 students and will have administrative offices, classrooms, a chapel, science labs, performing and visual arts facilities, and a sports complex that includes a pool, all-weather track, tennis courts, and athletic fields. There will also be areas for parking.

Studies conducted for the diocese over the past 10 years have shown both a need and desire for a high school in the Livermore area, and meetings with parishioners and parish staffs have confirmed support for establishing the school. Last October, the Livermore City Council unanimously voiced its support for construction.

The school will be the first new high school in the diocese since 1965 when Carondelet and De La Salle high schools opened in Concord and Moreau Catholic opened in Hayward. It will begin with freshman and sophomore classes.

A president will be hired a year prior to the school’s opening, said DeMarco. The president will select the principal who will secure the faculty. Tuition costs have not yet been determined, he said.



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