School History

For over 40 years, St. Paul VI Catholic High School’s mission has been to inspire students to grow in grace and wisdom.
With its challenging academic curriculum, distinguished fine and performing arts programs, outstanding sports, and wide-ranging extracurricular activities, St. Paul VI Catholic High School is recognized as one of the finest college preparatory Catholic high schools in the country. Above all, our school’s unique character fosters a sense of community and dedication that encourages each individual to be extraordinary.

When Paul VI opened its doors, it was a new school in an old building. 40 years later, we are continuing the legacy in state-of-the-art facilities to ensure that we continue to offer the very best Catholic education for generations to come. Our 21st-century campus located on 68-acre property glorifies our centuries-old faith while educating the next generation.

List of 3 items.

  • 1933 - Construction of Main Building

    In 1933, construction of the new Fairfax High School building started on what was originally the Fairfax County Fairgrounds.
  • 1935 - Fairfax High School Opens

    Fairfax High School opened on February 22, 1935 with 468 students and 14 faculty.
  • 1972 - George Mason University

    On January 3, 1972, 1,800 students moved into a newly constructed Fairfax High School building on Old Lee Highway in eastern Fairfax City.

    The Fairfax High School building was purchased by George Mason University and was used as the university’s North Campus for ten years.

    The North Campus was sold to the Catholic Diocese of Arlington to become Paul VI High School in 1983.

Before PVI


List of 3 items.

  • 1983 - Paul VI is Established

    Paul VI High School (nickname PVI) was established in 1983 by former Arlington Bishop Thomas J. Welsh. The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales were asked to administer and staff the school. Rev. Donald J. Heet, OSFS, was appointed founding principal and the Oblates administered and staffed the school until 2000. 

    Paul VI opened with 350 freshmen and sophomores and 21 employees. Students choose the Panther as the mascot at an assembly. George Mason University continued to use the West Wing for its mail room during PVI’s first year. The next year an adult daycare unit for Alzheimer's patients used some of the classrooms in the West Wing. In 1985, Paul VI took over the entire building. 
  • 1985 - PVI Dedication

    Bishop John Keating presided at the Dedication of Paul VI High School on September 27, 1985 in the auditorium.
  • 1986 - First Graduating Class

    The Class of 1986 was the first to graduate on June 8, 1986 at the Cathedral of St. Thomas Moore in Arlington. There were 120 graduates.

List of 4 items.

  • 1992 - First Canned Food Drive

    3,000 cans were collected in Paul VI’s first Canned Food Drive.
  • 1997 - Rally in the Alley

    The first Rally in the Alley took place at the Fairfax campus. Rally in the Alley was a social event for all students to gather before certain home football games.

    Upon moving to the new campus in 2020, the event was renamed Rally in the Valley. Sponsored by the Student Government, this event provides free food, games, and time for students to socialize before heading over to the football game.
  • 1998 - Options Program Begins

    In August 1998, six students entered the first PVI Options class. The Options program provides a Catholic education to students with intellectual disabilities. In 1998, Paul VI was only the second Catholic high school in the U.S. to offer such a program. PVI Options has since expanded to 16 students and has been used as a model for many other high school programs.
  • 1999 - New School Colors

    The original school colors were gold and white with brown as an accent color until the 1999–2000 school year. The school moved away from brown in favor of black, which was considered more stylish by the student body.



List of 6 items.

  • 2001 - 9/11

    Bishop Paul Loverde was on campus to celebrate the Mass of the Holy Spirit when the PVI community heard about the September 11 (9/11) terrorist attacks.
  • 2002 - Athletic Hall of Fame

    The first Athletic Hall of Fame event was held. The Paul VI Athletic Hall of Fame honors student-athletes, coaches, athletic staff members, and community stars.
  • 2002 - Special Olympics

    Paul VI is named Virginia Special Olympics School of the Year.
  • 2003 - New Paul VI Activity Center

    The two-story addition was completed for the 2003–04 school year. This included a new gymnasium, locker rooms, a computer lab, coaches' offices, and a wrestling room. In great contrast to the old gym, which held approximately 400 people, the new center held 1,600. The new Paul VI Activity Center dedication took place on October 12, 2003.

    Over time, the space was referred to as The PAC” (Panther Activity Center).

    Click here to see the original Dedication Ceremony page.
  • 2004 - The VI Man

    The VI Man cheering section was established. VI Man student leaders were added to stand in front of the student section to create enthusiasm and lead students in PVI cheers.

    In 2006, DCSportsFan named the VI Man its top student section.
  • 2009 - School Spirit Rock

    The Class of 2009 was instrumental in bringing a 6.6 ton spirit rock from a local quarry to PVI. Students paint the rock to enhance school spirit and highlight upcoming events, performances, victories and awards.

    The iconic rock was transported to the new campus on July 30, 2020 and the tradition continues. 

List of 8 items.

  • 2011 - Dual Enrollment

    Paul VI began its Dual Enrollment (DE) partnership with Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). DE classes offer students a pathway to earn dual course credit at both PVI and NOVA. Once earned, these dual course credits are fully transferable from NOVA to any Virginia state college or university, and may also be transferable to colleges and universities outside of the state.
  • 2012 - Named Top 50 Catholic High School

    In 2012, PVI was named among the Top 50 Catholic High Schools in the United States by the Cardinal Newman Society. 

    The Cardinal Newman Society released the list of schools recognized by the Catholic Education Honor Roll as 2014 Schools of Excellence. Honor Roll schools receiving this designation are marked by the integration of Catholic identity throughout all aspects of their programs and excellence in academics.

    PVI continued to be on the Honor Roll until 2022, when the Cardinal Newman Society changed its program. 
  • 2013 - One-to-One Laptop Program

    In the 2013-2014 school year, PVI launched the One-to-One Laptop Program for all incoming freshmen and rising sophomores.

    The goals of the program were:
    • To enhance student learning of the curriculum via a more interactive, student-centered approach.
    • To enhance the development of 21st Century student skills (The 4 Cs: Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication, Collaboration). 
    • To improve student organizational and study skills via access to e-texts, lesson plans, notes, and student work all in one, portable technology device.
  • 2015 - New Campus Announced

    The Diocese of Arlington announced that Paul VI will relocate from its original 15-acre campus in Fairfax to a 68-acre campus in Chantilly.
  • 2018 - Groundbreaking Ceremony

    The groundbreaking ceremony for Paul VI's new campus was held on February 16, 2018. Bishop Michael F. Burbidge blessed the site. He opened the groundbreaking ceremony with a prayer and sprinkled holy water on the site.

    On May 11, students and faculty celebrated a Beam Bash to sign a 14 foot beam that was used on the third floor of the academic building in the new campus. In June, the beam was placed and construction of the new building continued.
  • 2018 - Pope Paul VI is Canonized

    Pope Paul VI, our school's namesake, was canonized on October 14, 2018. Members of the Paul VI community were blessed to make a pilgrimage to Rome for the canonization. Eighteen students, four staff, eight parents, and friends accompanied Father Stephen Schultz, PVI Chaplain, and Joyce Krolicki, Coordinator of Campus Ministry, for a week in Italy.

    Link to Catholic Herald article.
  • 2018 - School Seal Updated

    In 2018, the school seal was updated to reflect the canonization of St. Pope Paul VI and "Est. 1983" replaced "Fairfax, Virginia" to reflect PVI's relocation to Chantilly in the summer of 2020.
  • 2019 - VIctory Lap

    Paul VI celebrated its final 2019-20 school year in Fairfax with the theme VIctory Lap. To encourage students to make the last year in Fairfax an exciting one, the Student Government held a contest and students logged attendance to VIctory Lap events on an app to win prizes.


School History & Farewell to Fairfax

“The relocation of Paul VI ensures that future generations of students in our Diocese will receive Catholic education at the highest level of excellence.”
~ Bishop Emeritus Paul S. Loverde

"Paul VI is not the building. It's who we are, not where we are. Paul VI's home is where we are as a family."
~ Ginny Colwel
l, Former Head of School (2016-2022)

“Any architect will tell you that the success of the building depends on the foundation. So we know that this is going to be a successful building project because our foundation is Christ Jesus.”
~ Bishop Michael F. Burbidge


List of 3 items.

  • 2020 - New Campus Opens

    Bishop Burbidge performed a ceremonial ribbon cutting and blessed the new PVI campus on August 27, 2020.

    Watch the video of Bishop Burbidge's homily on the opening.

    Read Catholic Herald Article.

    Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, PVI opened for the 2020-2021 school year five days a week, utilizing a
    hybrid model that combined in-person and online learning. 

  • 2022 - New Head of School

    Ginny Colwell retired after nearly 29 years at Paul VI, including sixteen years in leadership. Laura Swenson was hired as the new Head of School in July 2022.
  • 2023 - 40th Anniversary Mass

    PVI celebrated its 40th anniversary. Mass was concelebrated by Fr. Stephen Schultz, Fr. Donald Heet, OSFS, and Fr. Robert Mulligan, OSFS, to celebrate 40 years of growing in grace and wisdom.
Continue the Legacy...Create the Future!
St. Paul VI Catholic High School is a private Diocesan Catholic preparatory school for girls and boys in grades 9-12 in Chantilly, Virginia, seeking to help our students Grow in Grace and Wisdom. Our school is part of the Diocese of Arlington and offers rigorous academics, an inclusive community focused on spiritual and leadership formation, and a proud athletic tradition featuring nationally renowned programs competing in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference and the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association.

St. Paul VI Catholic High School is an accredited member of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools.