John Paul College was formed in 1979 by the merging of two previous colleges, Stella Maris College (girls) and Marianist College (boys).
Stella Maris began in 1968 in the old clubhouse on property purchased from the Peninsula Golf Club in 1965 by the Sisters, Faithful Companions of Jesus. The Order took possession of the property in June 1967 and the Sisters took up residence in December of that year. The original two-storey house (the "Tower House‟) on the site had been erected and occupied by the Parer family in the second half of the 19th century, and after changing hands several times, had been in the possession of the Peninsula Golf Club since 1922. Many extensions and alterations had taken place over the years, and further conversions were required to prepare the building for the opening of the school in 1968.
In that first year, four Sisters taught the initial enrolment of ninety-nine girls. Numbers had increased to 169 by the next year and two lay teachers joined the staff. Each succeeding year saw an increase in numbers of students and staff. New classrooms, science rooms and a library were built. From 1968 until 1976, Stella Maris accepted boarders, who were housed in the residential wing of the old clubhouse.
In 1969, a Committee was formed to assess the secondary education needs of Frankston. This committee, under the direction of Father Joseph Kealy, recommended that a boys' college be established. Mrs Mary Turner of Seaford had previously bequeathed some land in Seaford for the establishment of such a boys' college. This land was subsequently sold, with the approval of the Trustees of the Turner estate, and the proceeds used to purchase seventeen acres of the land belonging to Stella Maris College.
The Society of Mary (Marianists) who had established a boys' college in Altona in 1968 were invited to establish a boys' college in Frankston for Years 7 to 12. Marianist College opened in February 1973 with 166 boys and a staff of six under the direction of Brother Don Neff, SM. Since the school building had not been completed, classes were held in St John's Church (East Frankston) and in the basement of St John's Primary School. During 1974 some classes were accommodated at St Anne's Church and Holy Family Church. Eventually, all classes were brought back to the McMahons Road site with the completion of adequate facilities. The college continued to grow rapidly in both numbers of students and buildings to accommodate them.
After preliminary discussions in 1976, it was announced in 1977 that the two colleges would merge. During 1978, detailed planning was carried out for the merger at the beginning of 1979. During 1979, Years 7 to 10 girls remained at the Stella Maris section of the college and all other students came to the former Marianist section.
Due to the merger it was recommended that Marianist College and Stella Maris officially close down and a new regional coeducational college be established. After consultation with the Archbishop of Melbourne, parents and students, the College Board determined that "John Paul College" would be the official name of the school. "John Paul College" was chosen in a desire to express the changes which had been happening in the Catholic Church as a result of the 2nd Vatican Council, (1964-68). Four popes had led the Church during this period; John XXIII, Paul VI, John Paul I and John Paul II.
In 1980 the former Stella Maris section became the Junior School for the college, catering for 420 girls and boys in Years 7 and 8. The old golf club building had become unsuitable and the construction of a new building for the Junior School was completed in 1982. Finance for this project came principally from the Olsen Estate. O.J. Olsen, a prominent Frankston resident, had left an estate to the Church for use in the Frankston area. This estate came to John Paul College, and in remembrance of this gift, the college incorporated the name of the donor into its name: John Paul College - the O.J. Olsen Memorial.
The Marianist brothers returned to the USA...