A predominant theme of Archbishop Damiano’s work in the Camden Diocese was the education of youth. Only a few months after he took office in 1960, he made it clear that he intended to place a strong emphasis on the development of Catholic educational facilities in the six counties. To provide the means for this growth in the field of secondary education, Archbishop Damiano began an educational fund campaign with a goal of five million dollars to build three new high schools, one of which was to be Paul VI.
At the time of the ground breaking, Archbishop Damiano said: “This high school is a public service and all people of all creeds, and of all races, will be invited to attend.”
Construction on the school, convent and parish building (St. Vincent Pallotti parish is also located on the 35 acre site) began in January 1965. The school, designed by Armond Nasuti of Haddon Heights, and built by Cresco Builders of Pennsauken, at an estimated cost of over 2 million dollars, is designed like a large “W” with common facilities such as the cafeteria and gym in the center area and classrooms along the extremities. When the school was first opened, boys and girls were in the separate wings, sharing facilities such as library, cafeteria and gym.
The school opened in September 1966 with an enrollment of 613 boys and girls (freshmen and sophomores), but was built with 50 homerooms, a 1,000 seat auditorium, a 1,500 capacity gym, a 50 seat chapel, and a large library for a capacity enrollment of 2,000 students. It was staffed at the time by 10 priests of the Camden Diocese, 18 sisters and 10 lay teachers. The sisters were members of the Religious Teachers Filippini. The first Assistant Principal was Sister Giacinta Basile, MPF, who served until June 1974. Paul VI High School was dedicated on Sunday, November 6, 1966, by Archbishop Celestine J. Damiano, Archbishop – Bishop of Camden. Assisting the Archbishop was the Reverend Msgr. John J. Clark, at that time Superintendent of Diocesan Schools, and the Reverend Joseph A. Von Hartleben, Principal.
The second principal of Paul VI high School was Reverend Charles Kuhl who was followed by Reverend Eugene F. Pack, who served until June, 1974. Father Pack was succeeded by Reverend Joseph P. Joynes, who was principal from September, 1974 to March, 1976.
Reverend Russell L. Rock was principal from March, 1976 to September of 2001 and was assisted by Sister Marianne McCann, MPF as Assistant Principal.
In October of 2002, Paul VI administrative structure changed with the institution of a Board of Trustees, of limited jurisdiction, a President and a Principal.
The history of any institution, however, is not always measured in facts, but in the countless ideas of the many people who have made it work each day – the dedication of all the faculty, administration and staff who see to it that Paul VI turns out happy, well-educated students ready to face the challenges of the world with “Freedom with Responsibility.”