LOOKING BACK AND MOVING FORWARD
Siempre Adelante – Always Forward. These words are what inspired our founding families over 20 years ago to persevere through all the challenges they faced as they worked to establish a much-needed Catholic elementary school in South Orange County. Their commitment and determination resulted in the doors opening to 250 students in September of 1995. Today, they are the very same words that continue to strengthen and motivate us. St. Junipero Serra Catholic School now serves over 1,000 students and remains a leading, Catholic faith-based school in the Diocese of Orange.
At St. Junipero Serra Catholic School, we seek to provide our students with a moral center, a values-based education, and a challenging curriculum for all learners that nurtures curiosity and inspires the love of learning through innovation, investigation and imagination.
In 1993, a group of concerned parents approached their Pastors about the feasibility of establishing a Catholic elementary school for their children. Although the Diocese had no plans in place to expand the school system in the Diocese of Orange, the parents assumed the responsibility of working closely with the Diocesan School's Office. They successfully established the county's first and only tri-parish elementary school, serving the parishes and families of Santiago de Compostela Catholic Church, St. Killian Catholic Church and San Fransisco Solano Catholic Church. Bishop Norman McFarland named the school after Junipero Serra "The Apostle of California," the Spanish missionary who founded nine Franciscan missions in California from 1769 to 1782.
Serra Catholic School, which was the first new Catholic elementary school in Orange County in 15 years, opened in the fall of 1995. When it opened, it had ten classrooms accommodating a total enrollment of approximately 250 students in grades Kindergarten through Sixth.
In September 2003, Serra Catholic School opened its first permanent facility, the Primary Education Building (PEB), which housed students in grades Jr. Kindergarten to Fifth. By the fall of 2009, Serra Catholic School completed the second phase of development by opening their doors to the Middle Education Building (MEB), which now houses grades Fifth through Eighth, along with the Student Activity Center (SAC).
When Holy Trinity Catholic Church opened in Ladera Ranch, Serra Catholic School became a quad-parish school, serving the parish and families of this newly formed Catholic church.
As Serra Catholic School continued to grow, there was a great need to expand and offer families a preschool option. In September 2011, Serra Catholic School Preschool opened its doors on the grounds of Holy Trinity Catholic Church. Due to the success of the Early Childhood Programs and to accommodate the growing needs, the preschool relocated to the main campus in Fall 2015. Today, the Preschool continues to offer programs for three and four-year-old students that meet the unique requirements of every family.
On October 6, 2015, priests from the four parishes served by Serra Catholic School joined Bishop Kevin Vann in celebrating Mass in honor of our school's 20th Anniversary and the canonization of Junipero Serra. The school's name was updated to St. Junipero Serra Catholic School ("St. Serra" for short) to reflect the sainthood of their patron.
On April 3, 2017, the Most Reverend Bishop Kevin W. Vann of the Diocese of Orange celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony for St. Serra's greatly anticipated Chapel and Student Creation Center (for STEM education and the Arts), the final phase of the school's structural development. The Chapel officially opened on October 6, 2018, when Bishop Vann returned to campus for the Chapel blessing and dedication.
Today, St. Junipero Serra Catholic School continues to live by St. Junipero Serra's motto, "Siempre Adelante...Always Forward!" St. Serra educates over 1,000 students in grades Preschool through Eighth, and serves the parishes and families of Santiago de Compostela Catholic Church in Lake Forest, St. Killian Catholic Church in Mission Viejo, San Fransisco Solano Catholic Church in Rancho Santa Margarita, and Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Ladera Ranch.