Pope John XXIII High School opened in 2004, the first new Catholic high school in the Houston area in more than 40 years – a refreshing new model of hope for the future of Catholic secondary education. It was intended to be a place where students could learn and grow in the Catholic faith and Christian service. The school’s stated mission is to “prepare the hearts and minds of our students to serve God and others.” Originally called Pope John XXIII High School, the school adopted its current name in 2014 to reflect the canonization of Pope John XXIII.
St. John XXIII High School is a Catholic institution affiliated with the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. Catholic theology is incorporated into the curriculum at every grade level, and students attend a weekly Mass on campus. Yearly retreats and the Works of Mercy Service Program further encourage students to grow in spirituality and Christian service. While the school’s mission is tied to Catholicism, however, students of all faiths are welcome.
St. John XXIII High School is located on the West Grand Parkway in Katy. Recently constructed buildings include the Crosthwait Student Center and a Competition Gymnasium for athletic events
Students applying for admission to St. John XXIII High School must complete the online application and take an admissions exam. Students may take either the ISEE or the HSPT to be considered for admission, but the HSPT is preferred. Only students coming from other Catholic schools may use the ISEE, and the HSPT must be used if a student is to be considered for academic scholarships. The HSPT is administered on-campus at dates and times specified on the school website.
In addition to the testing requirement and academic records, students must submit recommendation forms from an English teacher, a math teacher, and their current school principal. The admissions process does not require an interview or a shadow visit, although shadow visits are offered.
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St. John XXIII High School offers Honors, Pre-AP, and AP courses in addition to a standard high school curriculum. The school offers a total of 14 AP courses, which are taken primarily by juniors and seniors; some honors and pre-AP classes may be taken as early as freshman year. Students may also elect to take one or both of the college preparatory classes, which are designed to help students excel on the quantitative and verbal sections, respectively, of the SAT or ACT.
In order to graduate, students must complete 28 credits of required core classes in addition to electives and the Works of Mercy Service Program requirements. The distribution of core subjects is as follows: 4 credits of theology, 4 credits of English, 4 credits of math, 4 credits of social studies, 4 credits of science, 1 credit of fine arts, 2 credits of foreign language, 3 credits of electives, 1 credit of physical education, 0.5 credits of health, and 0.5 credits of speech.
No information concerning St. John XXIII High School’s accommodations for students with special needs is available at this time.
Spanish and Latin are offered at St. John XXIII High School. Students must take at least 2 credits (4 semesters) of foreign language to graduate, though they are encouraged to take more, and either language can be taken through senior year. AP courses are offered in both languages, and the “College Latin” course is designed to enable students to test out of introductory Latin in college by covering all material which would be covered in Latin 101 and 102. The Latin curriculum includes a focus on Ancient Rome and on the role of Latin in the Church, while the Spanish curriculum includes a focus on the culture of Spanish-speaking countries.
St. John XXIII High School offers a wide range of fine arts programs, including four levels of visual art and design; two levels of acting/theater; and band, orchestra, and choir. At least one credit in the fine arts is required to graduate. Students in the visual arts and acting programs have an opportunity to present their work in the Fine Arts Showcase which is put on by the school every fall and spring. Students in the band, orchestra, and choir programs participate in at least one concert per semester. Students in the choir program additionally have the opportunity to sing in local venues and compete in the Regional Solo and Ensemble Contest and the TAPPS Concert and Sight-Reading Contest.
The school offers students opportunities to learn about technology through an elective course on post production, in which students learn video editing and produce the school’s daily news video, and a zero-credit “apprenticeship” in which a qualified student assists the school’s Director of IT.
St. John XXIII High School hosts chapters of several prestigious organizations, including the National Honor Society, the National Art Honor Society, the Spanish National Honor Society, the International Thespian Society, and the Technology Student Association. The school also offers a number of extracurricular organizations for students, including a Culinary Club, Film Club, Gaming Club, the Paint and Palette Art Club, Literary Ladies, the Ladies of Virtue and Men of the Beatitudes, and the Pro-Life Club.
Additionally, the school provides community service opportunities through optional service retreats, and additional community service is required through the Works of Mercy Service Program. Through this program, students complete a number of service hours each year. Freshmen give 15 hours to feeding the hungry, sophomores give 20 hours to caring for the elderly and disabled, juniors give 30 hours to teaching the disadvantaged, and seniors give 35 hours to a service project of their choice.
The school also has a unique extracurricular program – the house system. Instituted in 2011, it parallels the house system at Oxford and the residential college system at Rice. When students matriculate, they are sorted into one of five houses, each of which is named for a prominent figure in the history of the Church. The house system is tied into the school’s spiritual mission, as it encourages students to follow Pope John XXIII’s charism, the Four Pillars. It also serves as the organizational framework for student government.
St. John XXIII High School offers 14 interscholastic sports as well as a non-competition dance team. Boys may participate in baseball, basketball, cross country, football, golf, soccer, swimming, tennis, or track and field, while girls may participate in basketball, cheer, cross country, soccer, softball, swimming, tennis, track and field, volleyball, or the dance team. The Lions and Lady Lions teams compete within the TAPPS athletic conference.
Parents are encouraged to volunteer on-campus, and the library and student store are partially staffed by parent volunteers. Parent volunteers are also involved in student lunch and campus ministry and in the annual gala fundraiser, as well as social events for parents and seniors. These volunteering opportunities are coordinated through the Parents Club. All parents and guardians of students are automatically members of the club, but participation in volunteering is not required. Parents who are interested in volunteering may become involved by contacting one of the Parents Club volunteer coordinators.