SURREY—The archdiocese’s youngest Catholic school doesn’t even have classrooms yet.
Saint John Paul II Academy, which opens this fall, doesn’t have a gymnasium, offices, or a science lab. It only has a principal, teachers, students – and a vision.
“This has been one of the most worthwhile projects I have been associated with during my 36-year involvement in Catholic education in the archdiocese,” said principal Michel DesLauriers.
The brand-new school is opening with small class sizes and with the goal to provide more Catholic high school education in South Surrey – an area, he says, that badly needs it.
Classes will be temporarily held at the Star of the Sea Community Centre while the school campus, now a partially-cleared field at 184 Street near 24 Avenue, is built. The school is accepting Grade 8 students this September, and will add a Grade 9 class in 2019-2020, relying on parents and buses to help students access extracurricular activities unavailable at the centre.
By 2020, the Saint John Paul II Academy should have a permanent home.
All that flux has some community members feeling that getting on board requires a “leap of faith.” Teacher Christine Jansen is one of them.
Jansen came across a job advertisement for the academy through an online archdiocesan newsletter. “Completely not interested in changing jobs, my eyes fell to the first posting on the list, which called for a humanities teacher for Grade 8 students,” she said. “Later that afternoon, I found myself still thinking about it.”