The 35th Annual Grand Celebration was a record-breaking success! This year’s special, Derby-themed gala served as a celebration of the legacy of Dr. Paul Barker, who retires after 12 years as president on June 30, 2023.

Together, our community raised over $160,000 towards the Dr. Barker Endowment for Student Talent (BEST) Scholarship Initiative which supports merit based scholarships for exceptional incoming freshman students. That brings the total support for the BEST Scholarship Initiative to over $277,000.

We cannot thank you enough for your tremendous support! If you were unable to attend the Grand Celebration but would still like to support the BEST Scholars Initiative, give here.

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Each year at the Grand Celebration, Good Counsel highlights a special project that needs the support of our school community. This year, we come together to honor and celebrate the legacy and leadership of Dr. Paul Barker by establishing the Barker Endowment for Student Talent (BEST) - a new merit scholarship initiative. 

Dr. Paul Barker

Kind eyes, thoughtful words and plenty of great ideas. These striking qualities of Dr. Paul Barker and the dedication with which he improves anything he encounters have benefitted Our Lady of Good Counsel High School for 12 years. When he retires this spring, Dr. Barker will leave behind much more than a vacant position at the head of the school. He has made an indelible impression that will last throughout the school’s future.

Barker has grown Good Counsel’s endowment, spearheaded the fundraising for and construction of the magnificent Performing Arts Center in 2016, helped diversify the student body, and built up the Global Program, band, and STEM programs to meet the demands of the 21st Century. “Dr. Barker’s open and inclusive approach, his eloquent speaking, his insistence of productive communication regardless of how difficult the challenge and his commitment to students’ well-being have enabled him to enrich and improve the school during his tenure and well into the future,” says Rita O’Donnell, past chair of the Good Counsel Board of Directors.

In Barker’s mind, GC is clearly a school of distinction. “I hope its reputation continues to grow,” he says. “I think the school merits being a school of choice. Historically, Good Counsel has shown it is willing to take risks to try to be better.” It was one of the first high schools in the area to adopt a block schedule, he points out, and it has the oldest International Baccalaureate program of any Catholic school in the DC-Metro Area. “Twenty years from now, who knows where it will be? But the school has finished its strategic plan, thinking about things like technology and micro-schools, and I think the sky's the limit,” Barker says. He also hopes the school will continue to focus on the Xaverian tradition. “The Brothers’ sense of community and the five values are truly important.” Barker is confident that Good Counsel’s successes will continue to grow. 

The BEST Scholars Program

The BEST Scholars program is a new initiative to honor the retirement of Dr. Paul Barker. In his honor, Good Counsel has created the Dr. Paul Barker Endowment for Student Talent, known as The BEST Scholars Program.

The Barker Endowment for Student Talent will expand access to incoming freshman students attending Good Counsel. BEST Scholars will have demonstrated academic promise and a commitment to community service. The endowment will supplement Good Counsel’s need and merit based scholarship resources, impacting our capacity to recruit new students and increasing our ability to meet the financial need of students who display academic excellence.

Please note the 35th Grand Celebration offers a virtual registration option which includes access to the Online Auction, Live Auction, Raffles, and more.  If you are unable to join us in-person, please considering joining us virtually. 


2023 Visionaries

Michael '91 & Vivian '96 Diokno


Our Lady award recognizes an individual who has provided outstanding volunteer support and a tremendous commitment to the school. 

Michael '91 and Vivian '96 Diokno have been generous supporters and volunteers for the Good Counsel community for over seven years. For the past three years, Vivian has chaired or co-chaired the Grand Celebration Planning Committee to bring new and creative ideas to each event. Mike helped launch the Xaverian Classic Basketball Tournament in 2018, bringing with him his experience as Athletic Director at St. John the Baptist. As proud parents to Victor '21, they helped with numerous football and parent events during their time as GC parents. 


1958 Cornerstone award recognizes outstanding and thoughtful generosity (philanthropy – time, talent, treasure) to Our Lady of Good Counsel High School.

Joe '69 and Debbie Connors have been faithful and devoted supporters of Good Counsel for over 30 years. During his time at GC, Joe was dubbed "Best Athlete" and "Most Popular", and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame in 1990 for football. Good Counsel ties run deep for the Connors family as Joe and Debra's sons Patrick '99 and Michael '03 also attended Good Counsel, in addition to Joe's brothers Ed '72 and John '75

Joe served on the Board of Directors for five years from 1999-2004, prior to the school's relocation to the Olney campus. He and Debra have supported numerous fundraising initiatives including annually supporting the Fund for Good Counsel, the Steve Dean Golf Classic, and the Performing Arts Campaign. 

Joseph '69 and Debra Connors, Jr.

Morrell (John) Berry '77


The br. Bob Arrowsmith '63 Distinguished Alumnus award recognizes someone who demonstrates a commitment to faith, service, and Good Counsel; who has achieved professional success; and who has made significant contributions to society through leadership, volunteerism, and philanthropy.

John Berry ’77 serves as the president of the American Australian Association based in New York City.  He began the role after being US Ambassador to Australia from 2013-2016.  John began his career in government working for the Maryland Senate Finance Committee and then as a staffer in the US House of Representatives first for the House Appropriations Committee and then as legislative director for Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland).  A lengthy federal career followed that included time at the Department of the Treasury, the Smithsonian Institution and the Department of the Interior. 

In 2001, John became executive director of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and then in 2005 became director of the National Zoological Park where he implemented a 20-year capital master plan.  He then was director of the Office of Personnel Management and a senior US ranking official for President Obama appointed to Ambassador in 2013.  John has been a generous Good Counsel supporter to the Fund for Good Counsel and the campaign to move the school’s campus from Wheaton to Olney.


Recognizes a member of the Good Counsel faculty or staff who enthusiastically “answers the call” to inspire our students to excel, serve, and love. The award recognizes exceptional commitment, exemplified through long-standing tenure, that has an immeasurable impact on our students and school community.

For 35 years Jennifer Smith has mentored and counseled Good Counsel Falcons.  As a school counselor, Jennifer helps with everything from academic skills support, to coping and problem solving skills, to helping students in cases of personal tragedy.  She is known by many who have had her as a counselor for her compassion. In addition to being a school counselor over the years Jennifer served for several years as the moderator of the Law and Business Club.  She has been a consistent supporter of the Fund for Good Counsel as a staff member.

Jennifer Smith

Joseph W. McCartin Insurance, Inc. - Mike and Ann McCartin


The Concordia award recognizes a foundation or corporation that has had significant philanthropic impact on our students and school community.

Joseph W. McCartin Insurance, Inc. was founded in 1967 by Mike McCartin's father Joseph McCartin, who built the agency into a firm for people to rely on for straightforward advice and friendly and reliable service. Mike joined the family business in 1990 and grew to be an industry leader to set standards and promote best practices for the insurance industry.  Ann McCartin joined the business in 2011 and manages accounting, financial reporting and human resources. The McCartin’s were among the first to join on as Good Counsel Community Partners when the program began in 2008 as a way to build sustainable and mutually beneficial partnerships.  Mike and Ann’s daughters, Katelyn ’11 and Courtney ’13, are Good Counsel graduates. Over the years, the McCartin’s have been loyal and generous supporters of Good Counsel through the Fund for Good Counsel, the Grand Celebration, and the Community Partners Program.