Bishop O’Connell President Announces Resignation

by ARLnow.com February 11, 2013 at 7:25 pm 3,500 28 Comments

Katy Prebble (photo via Bishop O'Connell High School)Bishop O’Connell High School President Katy Prebble has announced that she will resign at the end of the school year, after three years on the job.

Parents and students at the private Catholic institution, in Arlington’s East Falls Church neighborhood, were informed of the resignation this afternoon. Prebble is leaving to take another job outside of the Catholic Diocese of Arlington, diocese spokesman Michael Donohue told ARLnow.com.

Student comments about Bishop O'Connell President Katy Prebble's resignation (via Twitter)Prebble, a 1974 Catholic University graduate, joined O’Connell in 2010 after serving as president of a college preparatory school in Georgia. Barry Breen, O’Connell’s president before Prebble, resigned after five years.

The diocese says it will begin a search for a new president “soon,” although a final decision has not yet been made about whether to keep the current leadership structure of the school, which includes both a president and a school principal.

On Twitter, Bishop O’Connell students seemed pleased with Prebble’s resignation. One called it “a graduation present to the Class of 2013.”

Another said the resignation was “better late than never,” while referencing a controversial decision last year to fire John Harrison, a beloved social studies teacher.

Prebble sent the following letter to parents at 3:15 p.m. today (Monday).

Dear Bishop O’Connell Community,

I write to you today to inform you that I will be leaving Bishop O’Connell in June 2013. It has been my distinct privilege to serve as the school’s president since July 2010. The 1,200 students who grace the halls of our school every day are a remarkable and diverse group of young men and women eager to establish themselves as the leaders of tomorrow. I will miss them dearly as well as the dedicated faculty and staff who work incredibly hard to guide them through these wonderful and exciting high school years.

With the completion of the renovation of our athletic fields and two new chemistry labs, as well as the plans to complete several more labs this summer, Bishop O’Connell is strategically positioned to offer a first class facility for students for years to come.

I am enthusiastic about our work with our new Strategic Plan and our initial efforts to create a Facility Master Site Plan. The next few months will be busy as we work diligently to strengthen our Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program and plan the addition of our second engineering course. Our STEM curriculum continues to grow, and O’Connell is set to become one of only two private high schools in the greater Washington DC area to offer a Project Lead the Way school curriculum in engineering.

I have been inspired by O’Connell’s spirit and traditions and am a better person for being guided by the IHM Sisters. Many of you may know that years ago Mother Teresa visited O’Connell and spoke to our students. Her message of love and compassion continues to fill the heart of our community. I will faithfully serve our community over the next few months and wish only the best for O’Connell. It is always a great day to be a Knight.

Faithfully yours,

Katy Prebble

In a letter, Diocese of Arlington Superintendent of Schools Sister Bernadette McManigal said Prebble “has served the school, the Diocese and Catholic Education well.”

A long list of accomplishments are directly attributable to Katy’s leadership. The most visible examples include remodeled science labs, the addition of a global studies program, attractive and safe athletic fields, dual enrollment courses with Marymount, new seats in the school auditorium and the addition of pre-engineering courses in the curriculum. An impressive list! Katy was tireless in her zeal for the students and faculty at Bishop O’Connell High School.

Bishop Paul S. Loverde joins me in thanking Katy for her service and in wishing her well in her next endeavors. We will miss her.

  • Jessica

    Parents need to teach their children a little bit more respect. That woman has feelings whether they like her or not.

    • Tabs


    • Joe

      if you were a student while she was president you would see it differently

    • ArLater

      Ironic statement coming from one of the most volatile comment boards. The only difference between the “children” and the “adults” is that the children put their names to it, adults here just hide behind anonymous handles.

      • JoshS

        ^^^ This.

      • drax

        1.5 FREDTERPS for that one.

    • J. Class of ’11

      If you had seen the school’s morale absolutely break apart under her presidency then you wouldn’t have liked her either. Prebble came to O’Connell and looked upon a wonderful group of students as delinquents. She treated us as if we were kindergarteners. She walked into a tight knit family with an air of arrogance and did not show the students, nor faculty such as Mr. Harrison any respect.
      She raised fees and prices, and although her work with the stadium was wonderful, she made it absolutely clear through her actions that she was there to raise money and assert authority, rather than to nourish a humble relationship with the student body. She did not lead by example, she led by intimidation and bullying. I had several very personal interactions with her as a senior at O’Connell and I never once felt that she was interested in getting to know me, nor interested in showing me any respect.

      Good riddance Prebble.

  • Jim

    The pope must have started a trend.

    • Amused

      I was going to say… The Pope and this woman announcing their resignation on the same day. Coincidence? I think not.

      • YTK

        Maybe she will become the first Woman Pope

  • Matt

    My daughter took part in last year’s protest, and that woman deserves no more respect than she showed Mr. Harrison. Good riddance. I emailed this story to my daughter. Her reply: “woo-hoo!” Her job is to build relationships and raise money. #epicfail

    • Ahhlington

      Congratulations, parent who uses hashtags in your ArlNow comments. You sound like quite the role model for your high schooler.

      • shut

        That finger never stops wagging #prude

  • Never

    As a prior OC graduate, im glad to see a new reign is going to OC. She clearly did not steer the students in a positive direction. Hopefully the new leader will have the knowledge, skill and ability to lead OC in a positive direction. ( more emphasis on personal skills and abilities, rather then then prescribed education dictated by the dioceses. )

    • Deadite

      Only the Catholics could refer, without a hint of irony, to a high school administrator’s tenure as a “reign”.

      • Strunk and White

        ” without a hint of irony”………but how about a touch of rosemary ??

  • FormerDJO

    The disdain of the students reflects the disdain that she showed for them, as well as teachers, alumni, and anyone who got in her way.

  • Hoopman

    In other O’Connell news, one of their basketball “recruits”, who once played for his national team back in Congo, may be a bit too old for high school:

    • John Fontain

      Why am I not surprised to learn that a Catholic high school that holds itself out as an exemplar of integrity and morals is actually recruiting adults to play basketball against their opponents teens. I guess winning is more important than honesty and fairness. The hypocrisy is astounding.

    • Student

      He isn’t too old. Mind your own business #youdontevengohere

    • Student

      He isn’t too old. Mind your own business. #youdontevengohere

      • Hoopman

        Sorry, student, a 20 year old man playing high school basketball is too old. And when the International Basketball Federation (which has an official copy of his birth certificate dated in 1992) gets involved, all those games are going to be forfeited.

  • Nancy

    For all us Arlington Public School parents…Why can’t we get rid of Patrick Murphy?

    • Beth M.

      Mrs. Prebble didn’t have Abby Raphael and the fan club on her board, defending her every move.

      • Sadly

        Isn’t Murphy like the Pope? Infallible and appointed for life?

  • AL

    Is she going to be the next pope?!

  • Tim

    This info about the player being 20 instead of 18 was found by the same organization that presented the whole Manti Te’o controversy. Plus, the school had his student visa that stated he was 18 at the time the article was published; and I highly doubt that a student visa would have incorrect information.
    This whole thing was also completely dropped within a week of the accusation.

    • Hoopman

      Tim, it most certainly was not “completely dropped” for those who feel this is the worst kind of fraud. O’Connell claims that they are confident that he is 18, and the WCAC was fine with that. However, the International Basketball Federation says that they have an official copy of his birth certificate and it indeed has a date of 1992. Furthermore, when asked about the discrepancy, the FIBA representative said that age tampering was very common with African athletes wishing to play high school basketball at an older age. If you look at all the data — and there is plenty of data establishing his birth year as 1992 — it’s hard to argue otherwise. Look at the more recent article:


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