30 Years Together
St. Anne School Celebrates 30 Years of Education, Faith, and Family
In the early 1990s, a group of parents came together and sought the guidance of local educational leaders to create a new school in Laguna Niguel. They embraced a shared vision of a school that would provide their children with an exemplary education, faith formation, and character development focused on the whole-child approach to learning. At the helm were Tim and Steph Busch, known as much for their philanthropic endeavors as for their devotion to the Catholic faith.
In 1992, St. Anne School was established as a Judeo-Christian school in accordance with the Catholic tradition and welcomed its first 113 students—preschool through Grade 7. It was later recognized as a private independent Roman Catholic School.
St. Anne is a fitting name for the school. “Honoring St. Anne, the maternal grandmother of Jesus, reflects the love shown at our school. At the same time, it acknowledges the importance of the grandparents and parents who helped get the school off the ground and who remain the pillars of what make St. Anne School special,” said Steph Busch. A marble statue of St. Anne from Italy has adorned the campus for three decades.
The school’s first home was a series of portables off Greenfield Drive in Laguna Niguel. In just two years, the student body grew from 113 to 414, and it was clear that the school needed a permanent and expanded campus. In 1996, St. Anne School purchased the land off Bear Brand Road, and the plan to develop a new 7.5-acre campus was set in motion. The gymnasium was selected as the first building to be constructed because having a large place for St. Anne families and the school community to gather was of the utmost importance.
A Place for Families
St. Anne was in the planning stages when LuAnn Wilson was invited to join the group. She was asked to remain on after the school's opening as the contact for interested families. “There wasn’t even a school yet, so families were signing up with faith,” she remembers. “They all were looking for the same thing—a safe, loving place for their children that offered community and family involvement,” which St. Anne School embodies to this day. It’s one of the reasons LuAnn still serves as the school’s Director of Admissions.
St. Anne School thrives today because of the enduring commitment of the parents who choose St. Anne for their children. From the very beginning, St. Anne parents have been quick to respond to the school’s needs, even showing up on weekends to clean the campus before St. Anne could hire a maintenance crew. Today, St. Anne parents continue to support the school by volunteering. They plan and run the annual Book Fair; provide lunch, flowers, and other thoughtful gestures to faculty and staff for Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week and throughout the year; and help with the school’s many events. Parents also participate in the Knights Parents Association, a volunteer organization that provides support to St. Anne School through community fundraising efforts. St. Anne School does not require parents to volunteer; when parents get involved, it is truly because they want to make an impact on the school.
St. Anne parents also care deeply about how the school is run. “Whenever we had an issue or conflict, we would hold a town hall meeting,” Tim recalls. “The whole gym would be full because the parents cared about their kids and the school.” To this day, parents of current St. Anne students comprise more than 60% of St. Anne School’s Board of Directors, which distinguishes it from its private school counterparts. The Knights Parents Association Board also provides important volunteer leadership by spearheading fundraising efforts and events that provide vital resources for the school.
Strength of Community and Traditions
Students, parents, grandparents, alumni, faculty, and staff make up the St. Anne School community and come together throughout the school year to share special moments and traditions. Beloved events such as the Fall Carnival, Grandparents and Special Friends Day, Blessing of the Animals, and school plays form life-long friendships and lasting memories. These events have been a part of the St. Anne School experience for decades and are a large part of what gives the school a strong sense of community. “We are a community that is there for each other,” describes LuAnn. “When something happens to one of us, we’re all in. We’re all supportive.”
For more than a decade, the St. Anne School community has celebrated the Knotable Knights program, which encourages students to live out the mission and values on which St. Anne School was founded. Each month, teachers in Kindergarten through Grade 8 recognize students who have done an outstanding job modeling the School-Wide Learning Expectations (SLEs), which are to be an intellectually curious learner, a responsible citizen, a Christ-centered person, and an effective communicator.
Another way St. Anne School upholds its commitment to community is by prioritizing a robust tuition assistance program. The founding families envisioned a welcoming, non-elitist school that embraces diversity. As the school grew, tuition assistance became a line item in the operating budget.
Built to Last
Over the last three decades, St. Anne School has impacted tens of thousands of lives. “God has provided for St. Anne School at every step,” said Tim. With this confidence, St. Anne School’s Board of Directors, dedicated administration, faculty, staff, and committed parents will continue to work together to ensure the school will inspire children to pursue their highest level of academic achievement, spiritual formation, and character development for the next 30 years and beyond.
St. Anne School alumni are now enrolling their children in the school. “It’s a full-circle moment, and it’s really gratifying,” said LuAnn. St. Anne School alumna Ashley Giovinazzo, now the mother of a current St. Anne student, recalls, “I have the greatest memories of growing up at St. Anne. I was taught by amazing teachers, some of whom are still teaching here today. It was an easy choice to select St. Anne School for my children. Once you join the St. Anne family, you are always a part of it.”