If you are looking for a welcoming and academically rigorous Thurston County private school with lots of advantages, search no farther than Pope John Paul II High School (JPII) in Lacey. That’s where students are taught to build, believe and belong.

Pope John Paul II High School Principal Therese Allin heashot
Pope John Paul II High School Principal Therese Allin says a mission of the Catholic private high school in Lacey is to provide a community that supports the whole student. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

“We work hard to build community in our school,” says Therese Allin, principal of the self-supported Catholic private school of the Archdiocese of Seattle. “Students are not in competition with each other. They help each other grow.”

Established in 2010, JPII currently has 106 students who live in Thurston and surrounding counties. Allin says JPII students are of varying faiths, and all are welcome.

JPII offers many advantages. One is its small class size that enables faculty to focus on each student as an individual. Allin says the average class has 11 students. “The advantage is that everyone is involved and visible,” she says. “We care about the whole person. We are not just a school, but a Catholic school. We help them grow into the person who God meant them to be.”

JPII senior Noah Ashe is heading to college in San Diego in the fall, where he also plans to join the Navy ROTC. Ashe says JPII did a great job in preparing him for life after graduation, and he knew JPII was the right fit in his first year. “It was the community,” he says. “Teachers are invested in my learning and provide lots of outside resources.”

Pope John Paul II High School student Noah Ashe headshot
Senior Noah Ashe says the JPII private high school in Thurston County prepared him well for his upcoming college career. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

“It’s my second family,” Ashe adds in describing the JPII students, faculty and staff.

JPII’s excellent reputation is well-established given its robust academics, multiple co-curricular activities and competitive athletics.

Students receiving a JPII diploma exceed college and university entry requirements. The school offers in-person and online classes in a core curriculum plus electives, including 18 Honors and Advanced Placement courses. The core curriculum prepares students for college and career readiness with courses in English, modern language, theology, math, physical education and health, science, social studies, and the arts. Students must complete 80 community service hours. The State Superintendent of Public Instruction recently chose two JPII students as statewide finalists for the 2022 U.S. Presidential Scholars program. Twenty-seven percent of JPII students graduate in the top 10 percent of all Washington graduates.

JPII’s block system is yet another advantage. That system schedules two 90-minute classes in the morning and two in the afternoon. Faculty member Stephen Holland says the blocks provide multiple benefits, giving time to get to know students academically and spiritually. He teaches English and jazz band and oversees the students’ community service. “Here at JPII, the relationship with students is essential,” he says. “If you have 90 minutes you can get much deeper into the material. It allows for an in-depth discussion.”

John Paul II High School classroom
John Paul II High School is technologically nimble. Here, math and science teacher Margarita Fox uses a Promethean Board in her instruction at the Lacey private school. Photo credit: Nancy Krier

And here’s one more JPII plus: the school is technologically nimble. Students use laptops and the faculty teach with Promethean Boards, which are interactive electronic whiteboards projecting images from a computer or laptop, allowing student-teacher collaboration. Communications Associate Caiti Schmitz says this technology level meant JPII easily went online when COVID-19 restrictions went into effect. “We are very digital,” she says. “Despite the size of our school, we are very advanced technologically.”

In his years at JPII, Ashe has been active in activities like the jazz band, Associated Student Body and sports. JPII offers 20 co-curriculars such as National Honor Society, Future Business Leaders of America, Drama Club, Robotics Club, Writing Club, Knowledge Bowl, Multicultural Club, Campus Ministry Team and more. And if a student doesn’t find an activity that fits their interests, Schmitz says they can submit a proposal. “They have the freedom to present a plan for it,” she says.

Pope John Paull II High School students running track
JPII’s 10 athletic teams include girls cross country. The private high school in Lacey, just down the road from Olympia, focuses on building students’ minds, bodies and spirits. Photo courtesy: John Paul II High School

Athletics are another important part of JPII’s mission to educate the whole person in mind, body and spirit. Eighty-seven percent of the JPII student body participates in the school’s 10 sports teams. Fall athletics for the JPII Eagles include girls volleyball, and boys and girls cross country. In the winter, students compete in girls and boys basketball and cheer. Spring sports are boys and girls track and field, boys baseball and girls fastpitch. The teams have won two state championships and nine league championships. One more and related benefit is the school’s relationship with nearby Saint Martin’s University where JPII students are often utilizing their gym and track for PE, games and meets, along with its location near the Lacey Regional Athletic Complex.

JPII’s own facilities include classrooms, labs, offices, a chapel, a performing arts area, an outdoor courtyard, and The Commons central multipurpose area used for meals, Mass, assemblies and study groups.

It’s not too early to start thinking about the 2022-2023 school year. Students, families and educators wanting to learn more about this private high school in Lacey or tour the facilities can check the Pope John Paul II High School website or contact the school.

Pope John Paul II High School
5608 Pacific Avenue SE, Lacey


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