When the 200 students walk out of Pope John XXIII High School for their final day of classes on Thursday (June 6), it will mark the final chapter in the 53-year history of the Catholic institution.
Ninety-two seniors had received their diplomas in the school’s graduation ceremony on May 23. There will be a Mass Thursday at 5 p.m. followed by a farewell reception in the school cafeteria for students, faculty, parents, and alumni.
As previously outlined in a letter to Pope John parents from Head of School Carl DiMaiti, the school is closing due to “the unfortunate circumstances” that led to a $1.3 million shortfall in the school budget for the 2018-19 academic year.
The deficit was caused by International Residence Management (IRM) “failing to meet the obligations of its agreements with the school.”
Principal Thomas Mahoney was a member of the first Pope John graduating class in 1970. He is a shining example of the many area students who chose Pope John for its outstanding Catholic education, its reputation for sending its graduates to the top colleges, and its athletic tradition that flourished under some superb leaders such as former football coach Bill Perkins and current coaches Paul Sobolewski, Leo Boucher, and Jake Feraco.
Mahoney went on to attend Boston College, enter the field of education, become a brilliant teacher and soccer coach himself at Chelsea High, continue his career in the Malden school system, and ultimately return to Pope John as its principal the past six years.
“Certainly there’s some irony being involved in the first class and giving diplomas out to the last one,” said Mahoney. “I didn’t expect that.”
Mahoney, 67, said he will always carry the fondness he has for the school in his heart.
“This is a great community, a great place to be,” said Mahoney. “I wish I had retired sooner and come here. It was a great place for the faculty to come and teach. The students here ae spectacular. There is a great deal of respect here between the students and faculty. The students have a voice. It’s palatable the concern that people have for each other here.”
He offered praise for the other half of the administrative dream team, Head of School Carl DiMaiti.
“Mr. DiMaiti – what a great guy to work with,” said Mahoney. “He worked tirelessly for Pope John High School.”
DiMaiti, who came to Pope John after a distinguished tenure at St. Mary’s of Lynn, said Mahoney helped him make a smooth transition to his new position. “He knows this school inside and out and upside down. And he cares deeply for the school both as an administrator, and more importantly as a graduate.”
“It’s extremely sad and to me it’s personally disappointing,” said DiMaiti about the school’s closing and IRM’s failure to meet its financial obligations. “We were on the right path. I’m kind of overwhelmed by the support of the alums when we were in trouble, how they stepped up. The Archdiocese has been supportive, which I appreciate.”
DiMaiti said he will be retiring after 34 years as a schoolteacher, coach, and administrator.