The students at Bishop Maginn High School named Zinnia, the therapy dog they helped train, honorary prom queen this year and dedicated the yearbook to her owner, Jon Katz. (Photos provided)
The students at Bishop Maginn High School named Zinnia, the therapy dog they helped train, honorary prom queen this year and dedicated the yearbook to her owner, Jon Katz. (Photos provided)
1
2

This precious pooch went to prom!

Zinnia, the well-known therapy dog from Bishop Maginn High School, was named honorary prom queen last week and it all happened with a little help - make that a lot of help - from her owner Jon Katz.

Katz, who has had a long relationship helping Maginn students through his “Army of Good,” helped buy decorations through an Amazon Wish List for the senior banquet - which replaced prom this year - on Friday, June 11. 

Because of their dedication to the school, Zinnia, who was first chronicled in The Evangelist in December of 2019 as Maginn students were helping train her as a therapy dog during Katz’s writing class, was named honorary prom queen by the seniors who dedicated the yearbook to Katz and his “army.”

“The students have watched Jon and his ‘Army of Good’ step in so many times, especially this year,” said Sue Silverstein-Gilligan, director of Campus Ministry and Community Service at Maginn via email. “They provided safety equipment, computers for remote students, warm clothes, $20,000 in food cards and finally all of the items they needed for the prom!” 

Katz founded the “army” after the 2016 election and the political turbulence that followed. “I watched political sniping going on all the time and I have no desire to be a part of that and neither do many other people out there,” Katz told the Evangelist in 2019.

Made up of Katz’s three million readers that annually visit his blog — bedlamfarm.com — the army shares a common mission: to do good rather than argue about what good means. When first founded, Katz and his army focused its mission on The Mansion at South Union, a Medicaid-assisted care facility in Cambridge.

But they have been a crucial presence at Maginn. Last year, when the school went to distance learning because of the coronavirus, within four days the army raised enough money for 27 laptops for children who didn’t have a home computer. A few weeks later, when he heard that some students weren’t getting enough to eat, the army sprang into action and over $20,000 in Price Chopper gift cards were mailed to students and their families, many of whom are first-generation immigrants. 

“(Katz is) just there like a guardian angel when these kids have a need. And the students had been working with Jon to train Zinnia to be a therapy dog from the time she was 8 weeks old,” Silverstein-Gilligan said. “They fell in love from the start but it was really that moment this year when they could see her again that they came up with the idea of prom queen.

“They already had her picture in the faculty section of the yearbook. The year was so difficult for so many, just the sight of Zinnia lifted the spirits of all of us. She even did some remote work over Google classroom with students at home!”