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Our History

Before Pope John Paul the Great was chosen as our patron, before the 40 acres of land in Potomac Shores was donated, before the first plans were drawn, or the first shovel driven into the earth, the faithful of the Diocese of Arlington embarked upon a journey to build something good for God.

The goal was to provide an opportunity for high school students in the southern regions of the Diocese to receive an exceptional Catholic education closer to home. The result is not just a new Catholic school, but an institution of higher learning that inspires academic excellence, personal achievement, commitment to community, spiritual growth, and respect for the human person.  

Today, we have students from all regions of the Diocese of Arlington and a growing number of international students.


Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School was officially blessed on Sunday, August 17, 2008 by Bishop Paul S. Loverde, in the presence of more than 1,000 students, parents, and supporters.  

On May 1, 2011, Pope John Paul II was beatified by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome. Only a few short years later he was canonized as Saint John Paul II by Pope Francis in Saint Peter’s Square in Rome on April 27, 2014.

To commemorate and celebrate this historic moment in history, Bishop Paul S. Loverde (Ret.) gave his permission for the name of the school to be changed to Saint John Paul the Great Catholic High School. The letter from Bishop Loverde was received on May 13, 2014, the 33rd anniversary of the shooting of Saint John Paul II in St. Peter’s Square. Shortly after receiving the letter, Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, the founding principal, made the well received announcement to the students, faculty and staff of the school.


Pre-Opening Timeline

  • 1995: Bishop John R. Keating expresses desire to study the possibility of a new Catholic high school in the southern region of the Diocese of Arlington.
  • 1997: 40 acres of land donated by a real estate developer, in cooperation with Prince William County.
  • 2001: Bishop Paul S. Loverde commits full support to building the new school. It is decided that a unique bioethics curriculum would be established – a first in the nation.
  • September 6, 2006: Bishop Loverde and Dr. Timothy McNiff, Superintendent of Schools, lead the groundbreaking ceremony for the new school.
  • December 14, 2006: Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia agree to provide leadership for the new school.
  • May 16, 2007:  Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, O.P. named first Principal of the new school; Temporary office is established at Holy Family Catholic Church in Dale City.
  • October 11, 2007: Bishop Loverde names new school “Pope John Paul the Great.” It is the first high school in the country with that name, invoking the title “Great” as given to the late Holy Father by proclamation of the people during his funeral Mass, April 8, 2005, St. Peter’s Square, Rome, Italy.
  • November 2007: Unprecedented national media coverage focuses on new school, groundbreaking bioethics curriculum, and Dominican Sisters (front page of the Washington Post,November 25, 2007; FOX News TV interview with Sister Mary Jordan Hoover, O.P., November 28, 2007).
  • April 17, 2008: Pope Benedict XVI blesses the tabernacle of Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School during Mass at Nationals Stadium in Washington, DC.
  • April 24, 2008: President of United States, George W. Bush, mentions Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School in a speech to young children on the value of good education and faith-based schools.
  • August 16, 2008: Pope John Paul the Great chapel dedicated by Bishop Loverde during private inaugural Mass.
  • August 17, 2008: Blessing and Grand Opening of Pope John Paul the Great Catholic High School. A celebration for all the faithful of the Diocese of Arlington.
  • August 25, 2008: First day of school for the classes of 2011 and 2012!