First Year at Aurora’s JP2 Catholic Academy Full of Growth, Challenge
By Margarita Mendoza, El Observador Editor
July 11, 2019
‘JP2 has smaller classes where the teachers can really pay attention to their students. ...
and students like me can become close to their classmates.’ 
— Seventh-grader from JP2 North Campus
AURORA—With joyful children and many challenges, Pope St. John Paul II Catholic Academy here ended its first school year May 31. 
It was a period “full of activity and growing,” and despite the fact that it wasn’t easy “to combine four schools that function in two campuses ... we have had very good achievements,” said Father Timothy Mulcahey, pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel and executive pastor of the academy.
One change everyone has embraced is to call the new school “JP2 Academy.”
The academy is the result of the consolidation of schools from St. Joseph, St. Peter, St. Therese of Jesus, and Our Lady of Good Counsel parishes into one academy with two campuses. The academy is supported by those parishes along with Sacred Heart, St. Mary and St. Nicholas parishes in Aurora.
The South Campus uses the former Our Lady of Good Counsel school building and the North Campus is in the former St. Joseph School.
Sister Ann Brummel, OP, head of the school, said the first year went well because of  “the incredible teachers that I work with — because every single one of them stepped up and went above and beyond to provide the best possible education to all the students.”
It wasn’t always easy to overcome the challenges of combining the former schools, 
Sister Ann said. 
“There were times when we worked very well together, and there were other times when it was very hard for all of us,” she said, including administrators, teachers, parents and students.
She added it was sometimes difficult “to have to give up an old tradition from one of our old schools and do something different, try something new.”
However, from those challenges arose lessons, said Father Mulcahey.
“We learned that we need to know families very well, their needs and existent traditions in each of the parishes,”  he said. 
The academy, he added, has now combined a program of activities with the participation of many parishes and pastors and has involved a greater number of lay leaders.
“One of the biggest challenges in this first year was to build unity and a sense of belonging,” said  Michael Kagan, superintendent of Catholic Schools for the Rockford Diocese. “That takes time, understanding and patience.” 
“For my family it is important that my children receive a good education and they can learn (about) God and our Catholic religion,” said María Rivera, mother of three students — Jacob, a first-grader, Christian a third-grader, and Daniel, a fifth-grader. 
Daniel said that what he likes the most about JP2 Academy are his teachers, and he thinks it is “a good school.”
Students, teachers, parents and administrators adapted to the change of location, uniform and even the mascot, among other things. 
The students were happy because “their teams won more competitions and they made more friends,” said Father Mulcahey. 
Students were also asked for anonymous comments about their first year.
A seventh-grader from the north campus, wrote, “I love JP2 because it is a smaller school. I came from a larger public school where there were many students. I believe students cannot really make friends as easily in a larger group. There is only one classroom for each grade and students like me can become close to their classmates.”
After their experiences from the first year and with all the effort put into helping the academy succeed, students, parents and administrators hope that next year will be even better.