St. John Paul II Academy Will Replace Bell-Jeff High in 2019


After 74 years, Bellarmine-Jefferson High School has officially closed its doors. However, the building will soon take on a new life as “St. John Paul II STEM Academy at Bellarmine-Jefferson” starting August 2019.

Kevin Baxter, superintendent of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, revealed the plans last Tuesday when he announced the hiring of founding director, Jeff Hilger.

The Academy will incorporate STEM, a curriculum that includes science, technology, engineering, and math.

Most classes will be co-educational but there will also be some gender-specific courses. According to research, Baxter claims single-gender learning can be a more effective way of teaching in some subjects.

Although there will not be any major remodels to the campus over the next year, maintenance upgrades will be made along with some aesthetic redesigns.

Hilger also hopes to add an engineering room, a media arts center, and a music room.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese expects an inaugural freshman class of 60 students. They currently plan to add a new grade level annually, until the student body reaches 400-500 students in 2022-23.

The school’s name comes from St. John Paul II, a pope who visited Los Angeles in 1987, and returned to the United States multiple times throughout his career. Until now, there hasn’t been a school named after him.

Baxter hopes the Academy will provide the community with an affordable private Catholic school experience.

Bellarmine-Jefferson High School is located on 465 E. Olive Ave.

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