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 | Courtesy of Rodney Kreps | Courtesy Photograph

St. John Paul II Catholic High School names Sister Tonette Sperando, O.S.B., as president

Following the fall 2021 completion of St. John Paul II Catholic High School’s 2021-2026 Strategic Plan, the school’s Board of Trustees, in conjunction with the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama, announced the appointment of Sister Tonette Sperando, O.S.B., as president. Sister Tonette, an experienced professional educator and leader, will focus on community outreach and development, while Headmaster Dr. Jeremiah Russell will continue to steer academics and operations. Rodney Kreps, Board co-chair, cited the appointment as a timely milestone in the school’s 25th anniversary year. He said he foresees “an extraordinary team to continue the school’s 25-year reputation for faith-centered academic excellence, while also focusing on the future development of the institution in our growing community.” Sister Tonette will take office July 1, 2022, with participation in various school events throughout this academic year, including the State-of-the-School Address, Baccalaureate Mass, and Commencement.

Sister Tonette, a Birmingham native, has been a professed member of the Benedictine Sisters of Cullman at Sacred Heart Monastery for 31 years. Professionally, she served as teacher and principal at Sacred Heart School in Cullman and principal and president at Holy Spirit School in Tuscaloosa. She has also held key leadership roles in her Benedictine community as treasurer, development director, and, most recently, prioress. Co-Chair Kreps noted that these experiences “bring her significant resources and gifts to implementing the growth of the school and strengthening its role in the Catholic community in North Alabama and the community at-large.”

Dr. Russell said he looks forward to “this exciting opportunity to work alongside Sister Tonette in carrying out our school's mission.” He noted especially her “years of Catholic school administrative experience and her deep faith, rooted in Benedictine spirituality, that will anchor us and invigorate our broader faith community.”

Catholic education has been both a profession and “a passion of mine throughout the years,” said Sister Tonette, “and it is humbling, exciting and an absolute joy to be returning to this ministry in North Alabama.” Reflecting on her leadership philosophy, she noted, “We are a relational people, called to promote unity among ourselves, the larger Church, and the world at-large.” She continued, “Together, as we listen with the ‘ear of our hearts’ as instructed by St. Benedict, we will hear God’s voice calling the St. John Paul II Catholic High School community into its future, and I am delighted to be a part of that future.”

St. John Paul II Catholic High School is a college preparatory school for grades 9-12, located in Huntsville and serving North Alabama to develop students’ spirit, mind, and body. Founded in 1996 as Catholic High School, St. John Paul II Catholic High School is sponsored by the Diocese of Birmingham in Alabama. The school, which has met the requirements established by the AdvancED Accreditation Commission, is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and is a member of the National Catholic Educational Association. The Class of 2021 posted an ACT average of 26.6 and received more than $11.8 million in merit-based scholarships as well as five athletic scholarships.