Moments before performing the ribbon-cutting at St. Paul VI Catholic High School’s new Chantilly campus Aug. 27, Head of School Virginia Colwell reflected upon the journey that began when the school announced its move to Loudoun on June 4, 2015.

“Here we are, five years and 84 days later, and it has been a true experience, but we are now in what I consider our forever home,” Colwell said to a small crowd that included faculty, stakeholders and some of the school’s rising seniors.

PVI — among the “Top 50 Catholic high schools in the nation,” according to its website — had operated nearly 40 years out of the former Fairfax High School building in Fairfax City, its student population having since nearly tripled from 350 to approximately 1,000.

With 68 acres of land, more than 60 classrooms, eight labs, two gymnasiums and a large performing arts theatre that seats more than 700, the sizeable new campus is a notable upgrade from Paul VI’s previous premises.

Joining for the opening festivities was Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, whom Colwell called the school’s “biggest supporter, someone who has journeyed with us these past years as we have gotten ready to move into this gorgeous facility.”

“As I was driving here today, I was thanking the Lord for this great blessing, this great privilege, saying that I have to be one of the luckiest bishops in the country this year, to be blessing and opening a new high school,” Burbidge said. “It’s God’s grace and God’s help and divine assistance that has led us to this moment.”

He finished his remarks by addressing the students present.

“This is why the school exists — for you, to help you to grow in your relationship with the Lord and to experience excellence in education, and we are so proud of you, and we are so thankful, because of God’s goodness, we can give you this great gift.”

Superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Diocese of Arlington Joseph E. Vorbach also spoke to the seniors, reminding them of their responsibility to “carve some initial tradition into this new building as the leaders of the school.”

Vorbach also commended the senior class for their enthusiastic involvement in the transition period.

“...you honored the traditions of your history, your past location. You took great care at each step to make this a really special experience, and now you sit here today to write the new chapters for your school,” he said.

PVI is allowing a maximum of 50 percent of students in the building at a time to start the year, while the rest are learning via livestream, alternating on a block schedule.

Fliers, floor decals and other materials reminding students to maintain safe social distance and utilize proper health mitigation strategies can be found throughout the building.

Still, limited capacity notwithstanding, Colwell couldn’t contain her back-to-school enthusiasm after she and Burbidge finally cut the ribbon, joking that she will “even take the drama in the hallways at this point.”

She also reminded listeners that more than 1,000 used rosaries had been buried in the new campus’s foundation during groundbreaking, making PVI quite literally “a school built on prayer.”

(47) comments

Comment deleted.
ace10

Don't worry, LCPS has unfortunately had more than their fair share of accused sexual predators, child pron traffickers and coverups over the past decade.

Something, something, something, glass houses, something, something, throwing stones.

But yeah, please do make jokes about the safety of children!

ace10

PVI, a school built on prayer. Apparently ready to educate children in-person only months after moving from their old location.

While LCPS' "wing and a prayer" strategy has been a miserable failure since March.

But hey, they've got an apology ready to go for a terrible school policy from over a half century ago.

ABee

Yes A10.

Williams and his merry band owe Loudoun parents an apology for lying about the coming school year.

amerigirl

What lie?

amerigirl

"Here we are, five years and 84 days later, and it has been a true experience, but we are now in what I consider our forever home," Colwell said to a small crowd that included faculty, stakeholders and some of the school's rising seniors.

David Dickinson

It would be nice if our local/state/federal governments finally got a real school voucher system together so people could have real educational choice and people that are forced into public schools they don't want to attend could choose better schools for their own kids. If Democrats weren't protecting their teacher union buddies, kids could actually get better educations. Educational obstructionists. That's what Democrats are.

Virginia SGP

Tuition at the school is only $10,500 or about $8,000+ less than LCPS. How does a school offer a superior experience at 40% less?

doverboy

Tuition at Paul VI is $17,250 per student or $21,250 if non-catholic. LCPS is $14,697 average cost per student. Wrong information as usual. Don't do fact checking, as usual

KK153

That's not entirely true.. it depends on the number of children you have there

1st Student

$17,250.00

2nd Student

$13,800.00

3rd Student

$10,350.00

doverboy

KK153, when you add the second and third child to prove the point, you discount that there is no increase in the tax paid to attend public schools. Any family which wishes to pay $40,000 additional dollars on top of their taxes is free to do so. No vouchers however

amerigirl

Yeah yeah it's always the dems fault. if it wasn't you couldn't live with yourself.

Jeanne T

"it's always the dems fault"

Well, what you rather he had said? That it's always the Republicans' fault? That it's always Trump's fault? Would that have suited you better, amerigirl?

amerigirl

Jeanne, why do you only comment on my comments? Sometimes you ding that doesn't even make sense. Are you aware of all the things he has blamed dems for? Can you come up with a real comment about the article or is it your mission to cling to my every word? I don't think it is even a political situation, not the dems or repubs fault. Does that suit you better? Or do you ant to jump on your high horse about some other comment i made? Seriously, don't you think he can take care of himself? Do you think throwing your unrealistic question in makes any difference? Nope sorry.

Jeanne T

"Jeanne, why do you only comment on my comments?"

Because you're s.p.e.c.i.a.l. LOL [beam]

amerigirl

What's a little violation of church and state anyway? Any other ideas on draining the public money away from public schools? Not everyone can get into their choice so who decides? Aren't the real educational obstructionists the ones that want tax money to private schools that people can't get into on first or second choice and have taken the funding from public education? Many studies show that does not mean a better education? What about student rights that are guaranteed through the state that wouldn't apply in private school? It looks like you are saying that the kids that get that first pick will get a better education so what happens to the other kids?An analysis by Ulrich Boser, Meg Benner, and Erin Roth built on a large body of voucher program evaluations in Louisiana, Indiana, Ohio, and Washington, D.C., all of which show that students attending participating private schools perform significantly worse than their peers in public schools, especially in math.

Stepup

You can find a "study" justify just about any argument.

What's disingenuous is cherry-picking "studies" while ignoring studies that show charter schools regularly out-performing public schools.

Why are waiting lists for charter schools so long, particularly in inner cities?

They want the choice and opportunity for their kids to get the best education available.

Public education is intended to provide educational opportunity for all, not dictate where parents have to send their children. It is legitimate for citizens to allocate tax dollars to support such choice.

amerigirl

Why do you think it is called PUBLIC education, not PRIVATE education? How is it legitimate for citizens to allocate tax dollars when the taxpayer is already paying for public ed?

Jeanne T

amerigirl: Demading a yes or no answer is not "insulting."

amerigirl

I guess that's a matter of opinion. But when someone asks me a question and demands an certain type of or any answer it's pretty insulting. To be told what to do as if you don't have a choice is pretty insulting, and belittling. People have a right to answer or not, and in the manner they wish. Maybe I took it wrong or maybe you worded it wrong, but it is water under the bridge, No hard feelings?

ace10

How about this idea?

Fire everyone in LCPS with the exception of one (1) contracts manager, and then outsource the education of Loudoun's children to the Diocese of Arlington?

They deliver FAR more to the families who enroll their children in one of the fifty school and do so with far more financial efficiency than LCPS could ever dream of.

Not a LCPS SB fan

I am hardly what most would consider 'conservative' as I am a staunch ‘never-Trumper’ and, for the most part, pro-teacher, but absolutely agree 100% with ace10 that the Archdiocese of Arlington is able to do far 'more with less' with regard to educational quality, value and efficiency over 'money-burning' LCPS. I’ve had kids in LCPS and multiple private schools in the area. There is truly no comparison, and St. Paul VI is the most stellar of them all. I absolutely agree LCPS leadership should reach out to the Archdiocese of Arlington for support and counsel, as this pandemic experience has truly exposed just how broken LCPS has become. LCPS leadership truly believes their primary job is to acquire land, erect buildings and consume themselves with issues that have NOTHING to do with educating our children. PVI has been able to actually open and transition to a new state-of-the-art facility, respond rapidly and pragmatically to a pandemic, AND offer the highest quality education -- all at the very same time! On that alone, they should be celebrated, so shame on those of you who are rooting for failure.

ace10

Thank you for your post.

Regardless of political affiliation or preference, it boggles my mind that some would wish failure upon PVI.

Jeanne T

"it boggles my mind that some would wish failure upon PVI."

Not in today's climate. This shouldn't surprise anyone.

amerigirl

So it would be mandatory to learn the catholic religion in Loudoun?

Comment deleted.
Hodor

I don't think most people have a problem with Catholic schools, they are relatively sane as far as religious people go. Now, evangelicals that think the earth is 4000 years old and just want to chuck poisonous snakes back and forth are another matter.

Comment deleted.
amerigirl

Jeanne it's no more insulting than you demanding a yes or no answer like you are someone's mother or making a smart remark and saying 'how do you like that'. You have gotten in digs, But I only give them in as reply's to someone that has been taking them at me. You don't and I won't. deal?

Comment deleted.
amerigirl

Hodor, I agree. That's why I don't understand Ace's comment about people wanting it to fail. Nobody ever said they wanted it to fail. He makes these tings up and goes into a rant over his own stories.

Comment deleted.
Jeanne T

"Hodor":

I never said that "most people" have a problem with Catholic schools. Don't put words in my mouth:

Jeanne T

"But I only give [digs] them in as reply's to someone that has been taking them at me."

LOL

amerigirl

It's rue, when people treat me with respect I return it. Why do you think that is funny?

Comment deleted.
Jeanne T

"Now, evangelicals that think the earth is 4000 years old"

You heard wrong, Hodor. it's 6,000 years, not 4000. [beam]

loudouncooler

stop complaining about LCPS. if you want your child to go to an in person school, then pay for private school. simple as that.

ace10

What is the purpose of LCPS if not to educate the children of Loudoun?

More Cowbell

I want all kids to have an equal chance of learning. I want my taxes lowered since LCPS is shutdown, no reason for all that spending if nobody is in class. The sky is falling. Williams and his 50+ chiefs have had since last March.... Day care is open and so is the cafeteria to help feed kids.

amerigirl

But then they would want your tax dollars to cover their decision to not accept public school.

More Cowbell

At least some kids in Loudoun will be learning this school year.

Barry Hussein

This is great to see. I suppose their teachers understand their paycheck is in the classroom and teaching is not any more dangerous than going to the grocery store. I am sure they will have no problem hitting their enrollment goals. Wish them all the best

Virginia SGP

Sounds like a school also built on logic, reason, data, and science. Too bad our public schools are so irrational and incompetent.

Loudoun4Trump

wonderful news....maybe I can skip paying school taxes to loudoun for worthless DL, and pay the 17k a year at a school that is actually open....glad to see this school here in Loudoun....gives some parents a chance to get out of the poorly run Loudoun school system....

Well Water Person

Nope!. You still have to pay your county taxes.

Well Water Person

And yes. It sucks.

amerigirl

They are still teaching. But think of this there are plenty of people who never had kids in the school system that still have to pay taxes.

KK153

and there are plenty of people who have several kids in the school system that have never paid taxes

amerigirl

That I don't believe. There isn't that much homelessness in Loudoun. Do you have anything to back it up?

Stepup

Half the population pay no federal income tax or receive government payments through tax credits. Renters pay no property taxes which is the primary source of county revenue. They are getting the equivalent of a free ride to educate their kids.

amerigirl

step, That is a very skewed point on taxes. The true amount is 44%, and half of those are retirees living on Social Security benefits. They are not getting a paycheck to have taxes taken from. The raise in people not paying taxes went up 2% because of trumps tax reform bill. Renters pay rent, the building owners use that rent to cover estate taxes, that is not a free ride, it’s included in what they pay every month.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for reading!

Please purchase a subscription to read our premium content. If you have a subscription, please log in or sign up for an account on our website to continue.