The History of Saint Ann School

 

In 1946 the resident pastor, Father Francis Pointek of the Church of Santa Barbara in Randsburg, decided to initiate steps to establish a permanent Ridgecrest facility, named Church of Saint Ann. Father Pointek took up residence at Saint Ann, and Santa Barbara of Randsburg became part of this new parish. Because of the growth of the communities of Ridgecrest, China Lake, and Inyokern, a school was built to meet the educational and religious needs of the children of the parish. A four classroom school building was constructed, and the new Saint Ann School commenced operation in 1952.

During that first year, four classes were in operation, the first through fourth grades. Total enrollment was 100 to 110 students. The school was initially staffed by the Handmaids of Mary Immaculate of the Diocese of Helena. In the summer of 1954, fire gutted the school building. For the next year, classes were held in the old Rowe Street huts in China Lake. In September 1955, classes resumed in the rebuilt school building in Ridgecrest. Sister Mary Bridget, a Dominican nun, was principal and first grade teacher. Enrollment was constant at 100 to 110.

In 1956 the fifth grade was added, the sixth in 1957, the seventh in 1958, and the eighth in 1959. Construction of four additional classrooms was started in 1959 and completed in 1961. In 1969 Sister Claudine and Sister Gabriel of the Holy Name Sisters joined the school staff. Sister Claudine became principal as well as full time teacher. Sister Joan and Sister Barbara of the Dominican Order arrived in 1970. During this period, Saint Ann School had a staff of fifty-percent religious and fifty-percent lay teachers. Enrollment was 240 to 250 students.

In 1977 Father Heffernan became pastor of Saint Ann Church. In 1978 Sister Kay, Sister Frances, and Sister Paula of the Dominican Order replaced Sister Claudine and Sister Gabriel, who were transferred. In 1979 Father Heffernan and Sister Kay established a kindergarten and a ninth grade after Sierra Sands Unified School District decided to expand the junior high concept to seventh, eighth and ninth grades. Due to this expansion, an additional wing was built. With the addition of kindergarten and ninth grades, the school enrollment was 270 to 275 students.

Monsignor Cleary replaced Father Heffernan in 1980. In 1981 the School Board eliminated the ninth grade and maintained a kindergarten through eighth grade format. Mrs. Carol Brown was asked to be principal and part time sixth grade teacher.

In 1982 the School Board eliminated the seventh and eighth grades and acquired a full time principal, Mr. Dan Clark. Mr. Stan Kus was principal from 1985 - 1989. Mrs. Patricia Bailey was principal from 1989 - 1999. 

The school remained at kindergarten through sixth grade through June 1995. Beginning with the 1995 - 1996 school year, the academic structure was kindergarten through fifth grades in order to align the school with the Sierra Sands Unified School District.

Sixth grade was reinstated for the 1997 - 1998 school year. Seventh grade was added in 1998. Eighth grade was added for the 1999 - 2000 school year. In 1999 Father Gamel became pastor of Saint Ann Church and Ms. Clara Finneran became principal of Saint Ann School. During the 2003 - 2004 school year, Mrs. Mary Little became principal.

Father Paul Kado was the pastor from 2009 to 2013, and in 2013 Father Denis Ssekannyo became the pastor of Saint Ann Church. In the 2014 – 2015 school year, a Leadership Team assumed the role of the school principal, and Ms. Darlene Lopez became principal in 2015 - 2016. Darlene Lopez returned to Northern California and the Second Grade teacher, Ms. Asteria Galacio assumed the role of principal beginning the 2016 school year.