August 26, 2019  |  By:   |  Press Releases  |  

—New School Year Begins with Launch of Elementary School STEM Network, Novel Burbank High School and New Superintendent —

Catholic Schools of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are beginning the 2019-2020 school year with innovative programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), a new high school in Burbank, key renovations and a new superintendent.

Paul M. Escala, new Superintendent of Catholic Schools, will oversee the more than 200 elementary and high schools spanning the tri-county Archdiocese of Los Angeles serving more than 78,000 students in Los Angeles, Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties.

“As we prepare for the new school year, I am delighted to share the good news about our new Superintendent of Catholic Schools, Paul Escala,” said Archbishop José H. Gomez. “Mr. Escala shares my strong commitment to academic excellence and educating our young people to know and love and follow Jesus Christ. He also shares my deep desire to make Catholic education available to every Catholic child, especially those in our highest need communities.”

Many students are welcoming the new school year with renovated spaces. Sacred Heart High School in Lincoln Heights boasts a new gymnasium, Our Lady of Loretto High School in Pico-Union is inaugurating a beach volleyball court, the first of its kind in the Archdiocese, and an overall renovation at Holy Spirit STEM Academy in Los Angeles was just completed.

“Since 1851, Catholic schools in Los Angeles have represented excellence in faith formation and academic achievement, helping to shape this region into a global metropolis. As we look to the future, Catholic schools must continue to evolve to meet the demands of a new generation of students,” said Escala. “I want to learn and listen from parents, teachers, principals, civic and religious leaders, take in all the great ideas and find ways to amplify access for all students, especially the neediest.  Moreover, I want to advance Christ’s message and give back to my Church and this city which has shaped me into the father and husband I am today.”

After a year in the making, the STEM Network initiative will launch with three inner-city elementary schools: Holy Spirt STEM Academy, St. Turibius School and Divine Saviour School. The STEM Network is an all-encompassing learning ecosystem involving the network schools, community partnerships, and intentional parent engagement. Each year, the Network will onboard a new group of three schools; creating an ever-expanding network of Catholic elementary schools dedicated to teaching and learning using the STEM approach.

“The STEM Network is a powerful initiative for our students, their future and, ultimately, our world’s future,” said Leslie De Leonardis, STEM Network Director. “With our mission to equip and empower all students, the Network will be able to provide a systematic platform to address and close the achievement and opportunity gaps that our schools, students and communities may face.”

St. John Paul II STEM Academy, a new Catholic high school located in the heart of Burbank, opened its doors at the former Bellarmine-Jefferson High School campus. Guided by a vision to provide the best of Catholic education with cutting edge technology and teaching practices, the Academy’s mission is to form forward-thinking innovators, ready for the real world and committed to serving the common good. It is California’s first co-ed Catholic STEM-immersion academy where students will choose a specialized pathway of either engineering or design and media arts.

“Auxiliary Bishop Alex Aclan celebrated the opening mass at St. John Paul II STEM Academy, followed by the ribbon cutting and a three-day orientation at the mountains, and I couldn’t be happier,” said Jeff Hilger, Founding Director of St. John Paul II STEM Academy. “We are starting with a small pilot class, but everyone is excited about the hands-on learning opportunities.”

More than 1,500 Dual Language Immersion (DLI) students are returning to school, at eight campuses throughout the Archdiocese from North Hollywood to Pomona, learning daily content in English, Spanish and Mandarin including daily prayers, Masses and performances. The DLI approach to education is rooted in the belief that students need to develop skills so that they are bilingual, biliterate, bicultural and formed in Catholic values to be better prepared as the next generation of global leaders 

Established more than 100 years ago, Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles are the largest provider of faith-based education in the nation, serving over 78,000 students. Statewide, Catholic schools save California more than $2 billion in educational funding each year. To learn more on Catholic Education visit and follow and

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The Archdiocese of Los Angeles is the largest Archdiocese in the United States with approximately five million Catholics. For the latest news, events and to subscribe for media alerts visit Follow us on social media at LACatholics on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Video archives and footage of Masses celebrated by Archbishop Jose H. Gomez are also available.