Recently I returned from a very busy and exciting, albeit, short trip to Uganda. In the space of two very full days I was able to meet with all the individuals involved in the founding and ongoing stewardship of John Paul School as well as spend time at the school and greet the newly enrolled students.
Msgr. John Kauta, Cissy Kagimu, a member of the Board of Governors, and I conducted a series of very formal business meetings with all of these individuals. We had a meeting with Archbishop James Odongo, retired Archbishop of Tororo, and the person most responsible for John Paul School. It was his vision that brought a school to this very remote and underserved part of Uganda. He has a special place in his heart for the school and is deeply invested in assuring that it is successful. During our meeting he agreed to become a member of the Board of Governors and to take a much more active role in leading the continued development of the school. We are very grateful for his dedication and commitment of time. Also present was Bishop Paul Buyela, Vicar General of Tororo and the Archdiocesan Education Secretary, a very strong advocate for the school since its inception. We also met with Archbishop Denis Kiwanuka Lote, the current Archbishop of the Diocese of Tororo, who is unwavering in his support. In the short time he has been Archbishop of Tororo, he solved a critical issue by acquiring a large tract of land, adjacent to our current property, for the school. We were severely land-locked and would not have been able to expand without his patronage. These meetings also had the benefit of valuable input from our Headmaster Fr. Deogratius Syambi.
The first order of business during these meetings was to determine the type of learning institution John Paul School will become. Would the focus of the school be the education of the masses to a basic level, or would we limit the number of students but provide the opportunity and instruction that would allow those students to excel? Unanimously, it was determined that we would strive to make John Paul the premier institute of learning in the area, with a special focus on the Sciences. To that end, we want the physical buildings to be premier, the teaching staff to excel and to attract students dedicated to excelling in their studies. With the completion of the new Science and Learning Center we will take a first giant step in that direction.
We also put in place and formulated a strategic plan for the long term development of the campus that included a priority ranking of the facilities needed to achieve our stated objective of the premier institution. A master plan is being developed that will eventually include a primary school that will have the same high standards of education so it can act as a feeder school to John Paul Secondary School. A second dormitory is a high priority that when constructed will immediately provide a significant increase in attendance. The local community is slow to develop but there are a few places where students can stay off campus. The travel distance to the school is a hindrance for many who want to attend.
Some of the other highlights of the plan are the building of staff housing and the eventual inclusion of a group of religious sisters to assist as teachers and to manage a planned clinic in the future.