St. James’ School fêtes its 50th

| September 27, 2018 | 0 Comments

HALLOWEEN at St. James’ with head of school Charles Rowins (Chuck-in-the-Box) and students.

St. James’ Episcopal School, 625 S. St. Andrews Pl., will celebrate its 50-year anniversary with an alumni reunion Sat., Oct. 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Alumni, students, families, current and former faculty and community members are invited to attend. Former head of school Rev. Charles “Chuck” Rowins, who served as head of St. James’ School from 1982 to 1995, will attend.

A chapel service will feature an alumni choir joining the current student choir. A luncheon will follow. Tickets start at $25 and can be purchased at

School administrators also hope to find Sean Murakami, who was a second grader in 1993 and attended the 25-year anniversary celebration. Reportedly, he was the first student to refer to the school’s “50th birthday” while wishing the school a happy 25th. Anyone who knows how to contact Sean Murakami can email the school at 


The school was founded in 1968 by Rev. Dr. Samuel D’Amico as a mission of St. James’ Episcopal Church. Joseph DeBell, a St. James’ parishioner, donated the original school building, an apartment on Gramercy Place large enough for four kindergarten students and one teacher.

Each year from 1968 until 1974, a grade level was added until the school had grades kindergarten through sixth.

In 1981, St. James’ Episcopal School moved to its current location, 625 S. St. Andrews Pl. The DeBell Hall building — funded by Joseph DeBell, the St. James’ parish, and the Ahmanson Foundation — was designed for 14 classrooms and reached its full capacity of 308 students in 1984.

In 1997, the commercial property known as Belden’s Market was razed to create a playing field for the school. The following year, St. James’ established a preschool. In 2001, an additional building was added, including a multipurpose hall, library, technology room, science laboratory, and larger classrooms.

In 2009, The Leonetti / O’Connell Family Foundation and parents contributed to the creation of a science lab that led to the implementation of a S.T.E.A.M. (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) program.

In 2011, an art room renovation, made possible by the Ahmanson Foundation and parent support, was added. In the fall of 2012, a new preschool building opened on Gramercy Place.

In 2016 St. James’ launched The Believe Campaign, raising over $6 million and securing funding for a complete makeover of every room on campus, a new Spanish classroom, and increased administrative space.

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