September 4, The First Day of School

Pope John Paul II High School’s first day of school was ten years ago today.

On September 4, 2007, 38 students, seven teachers, and four staff members joined in Our Lady of Fatima Chapel for prayer, thanksgiving (program here), and to take one uncertain step in a journey of personal growth and building a school. On that day, as with many in those early years, the notion of ‘PJP’ in ten years was, while hopeful, remote. Yet God provides. I was then and am now grateful for the privilege of this work alongside the many hundreds of students, families, and staff members who have brought us to this milestone. 

I shared the following during the school’s seventh Commencement Exercises this past June:

The first day of school at Pope John Paul II High School was September 4, 2007. With your graduation tonight, our high school completes its tenth year. This is a milestone –double digits — worthy of recognition and reflection.

Bill Gates — and please forgive the cliche of a Grad speech with a Bill Gates quote — Bill Gates said that “Most people overestimate what can be done in one year and underestimate what can be done in ten years.”  This is true. I’ve lived it. As the founding principal of our high school, I admit that I overestimated what could be done in one year. I imagined rapid growth — like the athlete who expects to win the game by putting on the jersey. And in case I want to forget, there’s a framed print, hanging in the Conference Room, from a 2006 Cape Cod Times article where I tell the world that we’re looking to enroll 150 students in our first year. We opened with 38. Yes, it’s easy to overestimate what can be done in one year because one-year horizons encourage fantasy thinking that omits the necessary factors of planning, people, and perseverance. 

But Gates also says that we often underestimate what can be done in ten years. True, too. In 2007, when we opened our doors, and you were in second grade, no one figured that within ten years, Pope John Paul II High School would capture a state-record three consecutive state championships, or send 62 voices to provide sacred music at St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City. We did not estimate Ivy League and other top-school acceptances, or alums now studying for the priesthood in our Diocese. You have contributed significantly to these accomplishments and many others.”

May God bless St. John Paul II High School with many more September 4ths.


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