By Seth Gonzales
The Texas Catholic
PLANO — During an all-school Mass on Oct. 22 at John Paul II High School in Plano, Dallas Bishop Kevin J. Farrell began celebrating the school’s 10th anniversary by drawing from the life and example of the school’s namesake to implore those in attendance to open their hearts to God and others.
“John Paul II High School would not be here today if the people who have gone before you did not open their hearts to each and every one of you and to each and every student,” Bishop Farrell said.
“It gives me great joy to celebrate the Eucharist on this 10th anniversary of the founding of this great school. I do thank you all for being here. Words cannot convey the appreciation of the church to all of you who have been involved in bringing this school to this moment in its history.”
When John Paul II High School opened in 2004, it marked the first time since 1968 that the Diocese of Dallas had opened a new Catholic high school.
The idea to establish the school originated during the tenure of then-Bishop Charles V. Grahmann. After years of delays, in 2004 officials closed on a $13.3 million purchase of a 317,000 square foot building at the corner of Coit Road and West Plano Parkway, a facility then-belonging to Alcatel USA Sourcing, L.P. An additional $30 million was used to renovate the campus and outfit it for use as a school.
Thomas Poore has been steering John Paul II High School as its president since that time.
“I have a deep sense of gratitude to all of our donors who believed in the school and continue to believe in the school, as well as the parents, faculty, staff and students who have been on this incredible journey,” Poore said. “What has been accomplished in 10 short years is truly amazing: building a school community of faith.”
Paul Philip was among the first staff members hired by Poore to help develop the school’s curriculum and build the first website.
“I had never built a website in my life,” said Philip, reflecting on how difficult it was to get the high school open even with the support system available. “It’s not been an easy job, believe me. A lot of people didn’t think [opening the school] would happen.”
Ten years later, Philip still roams the halls and teaches advanced placement history to students at John Paul II High School.
For alumna Teresa Sinacola, the school’s anniversary means a trip down memory lane.
“I remember the first day walking in 10 years ago and it feels like yesterday,” said Sinacola, who was a member of John Paul II’s first four-year graduating class. “It’s amazing and it’s a cool experience to be here today 10 years later. I feel blessed and honored to be a part of this community from day one.”
Before concluding his remarks during the Mass, Bishop Farrell thanked long-time supporters and donors Mary and Rich Templeton, both of whom played a critical role in helping fund the school. With the student body population now approaching 750 students, Mary Templeton said she sees an even brighter outlook for John Paul II High School over the next 10 years.
“I just think [the school] is going to be bigger and better,” Templeton said. “This community here is so strong. The Catholic community in Dallas keeps getting bigger and stronger that the next dialogue will be ‘It’s full. What are the plans for the next generation?’”