Pope John Paul II High School still in the works

Pope John Paul II is pictured in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in 1985.

Pope John Paul II is pictured in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican in 1985.

BLUFFTON—Proponents of a planned high school for the Lowcountry deanery have been re-inspired by an updated feasibility study.

“Everyone is still very much in favor of the school,” said Helen Ryan, one of the organizers. “Interest-wise, the feeling is there that we can do it.”

The idea for the school has been on the board for years, but was stalled by various factors, such as a vacant see and an economic recession.

Ryan said the last feasibility study was conducted in 2000, so they hired William Hinman of Winston-Salem, N.C., to find out if there is still enough community support for a high school.

The simple answer is yes, there is. But building a school is never simple, and funding is still a question.

Some things they have:

Name—John Paul II High School.

Location—The diocese donated 58 acres on S.C. 170 across from Camp St. Mary’s.

Principal—Ryan accepted the post in August 2009 and has helped lead the effort ever since.

What they still need:

Funding—$10 million to cover the first phase of the project, which would include a two-story academic building, an all-purpose athletic field and gym, and a chapel, Ryan said.

During a recent meeting at St. Gregory the Great Church in Bluffton, Hinman revealed the study results to Bishop Robert E. Guglielmone, deanery priests and community members.

He said 47 people in the five parishes and three elementary schools were interviewed to gauge how much personal and financial support is available.

The answers were so positive, he recommended a capital campaign goal of $15.6 million, which would require permission from the bishop.

In an e-mail to The Miscellany, Bishop Guglielmone said promoters are still conducting feasibility studies and cautioned that “nothing is concrete regarding this project.”

Ryan said her committee will present a report to the bishop in August detailing how the school will be paid for and sustained.

The diocese requires that they have 50 percent — or about $5 million — in hand before they can break ground, but Ryan hopes to have her first class before then.

She said they have a plan that entails leasing space until John Paul II high is built, and will include those details in the August report to the bishop.

The new high school would serve St. Gregory the Great School in Bluffton, St. Francis by the Sea School on Hilton Head Island, and St. Peter School in Beaufort. Backing would come from those parish churches, plus Holy Family of Hilton Head Island, and St. Anthony in Hardeeville, Ridgeland and Walterboro.

Tuition is expected to cost about $8,000 per year.