Catholic Schools Week

John Paul II extends its reach

An unidentified John Paul II Catholic High School student promotes John Paul II in a video on the school’s YouTube channel. The site features music, dance and promotional clips and has been visited more than 1,200 times since it was launched.

An unidentified John Paul II Catholic High School student promotes John Paul II in a video on the school’s YouTube channel. The site features music, dance and promotional clips and has been visited more than 1,200 times since it was launched.

By Cathy Harasta
The Texas Catholic Staff

John Paul II Catholic High School in Plano isn’t marking time, waiting for moving vans to deliver new arrivals to North Texas.

The school communicates with potential students in distant states as efficiently as it informs its current student body.

Families moving to the Dallas area need only visit the school’s blogs, YouTube channel or other 2010-11 communications innovations to learn all about the school.

The school, which is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year, introduced blogs; a YouTube channel; a Facebook page; Twitter and an electronically distributed magazine this school year.

“A family moving here from, say, California has those five ways to learn about our school and diocese without the family members ever leaving their living room,” said Karen Kimball, the school’s coordinator of special projects. “It’s all very 21st century.”

As a relatively new school, John Paul II enjoys technological advances. But Kimball said the latest communications initiatives have allowed the school to widen its reach.

A recent strategy incorporated getting admissions information to prospective students.

Kimball, who frequently Tweets and posts items on the school’s Facebook page, said that eighth-graders from schools in the Diocese of Dallas were invited to create videos for the school’s YouTube channel. Many eighth-graders responded to the recruiting tactic.

The channel, accessed by visiting www.johnpauliihs.org and clicking on the YouTube tile, includes videos of visiting eighth-graders offering their impressions.

Music and dance highlight some of the clips on the channel, including a video that had 1,200 views, Kimball said. Overall, the channel has been accessed more than 2,700 times.

The President’s blog, by John Paul II president Thomas W. Poore, and the student blog, called Cardinal Chirps, provide news and reactions to events.

In a recent blog post, student blogger Lexi Bianchin chronicled classmates’ reactions to the snowfall in North Texas and reported on a faculty dinner. Kimball oversees posts on the student blog.

Kimball said that coaches often opt to Tweet to advise student-athletes of practice times or schedule changes.

John Paul II launched “The Cardinal” magazine last fall. It comes out three times a year and is available electronically and in hard copy.

The 2010-11 innovations joined the school’s newspaper, newsletter and podcast in broadening communications options.

“We try to do things that engage our different populations,” Kimball said. “From our spectacular student blog to Tweeting messages to alumni, we’re very pleased with the response.”