When I first came to Pope John Paul II High School in January 2020, I was greeted by a professional staff who made me feel welcomed and comfortable. Of course, that’s what I expected from a Catholic school.

I attended Catholic Schools from Kindergarten through twelfth grade in Baltimore, Maryland, and taught in three Catholic Schools earlier in my travels. So I’m steeped in the traditions and patterns that typically occur during Catholic Schools Week.

However, as Catholic Schools Week approaches JPII, other events happen that I’ve never experienced at other schools. We still celebrate our Catholicity through special activities like our Associated Student Body (ASB) “House” projects where all of our students participate in various community service projects to marginalized communities. On Wednesday there is an afternoon prayer walk to Sacred Heart Church, ending in our students building a community prayer wall. Each day there are reflections that focus on the gift of our Catholic schools throughout the world. We are blessed.

BUT, there is one day like no other. The mystery and magic of Groundhog Day. On Tuesday of Catholic Schools Week, the hats came out, the furry elixir was poured, students paraded down the hallway and safely gathered in small cohorts, masked and distanced. Shadows were cast and shadows seen for crazy challenges projected on the screen…you watch and you may see, how fun a day of groundhog tales can be…and all of sudden, why do they do these things, groundhog magic comes around again. From a post to a poem, you’re reading a rhyme…looks like the groundhog got you too this time!

These JPII traditions were started in 2015 by Mrs. Megan Farrell and Mrs. Monica Davis, two staff members who are deeply committed to advancing our fabulous culture here at the school. When I took this job, they didn’t tell me about the groundhog magic that would swirl through our halls each year. But, I trust the process of their insight and fun for all of us and we try to keep a little bit of normal in our groundhog lives. Spring is just around the corner. Looking forward to what God has in store for all of us. – Dan Ashe, Director of Communications and Admissions