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VOL. 2 • WINTER 2014

CARDINAL St. John’s Art Gallery

by Dr. Michael Pratt, Head of School


have been heartened throughout the year by your commitment to the arts at St. John’s. I share that commitment and look forward through STEAM to build on our existing program.

Already our students are flourishing in the arts. So many of you were able to hear our choral students perform beautifully in their Christmas concert. Now students in our Elementary and Middle Divisions are preparing for the production of Peter Pan, which will play March 6-9. I am also excited to share with you some recent successes that our students have enjoyed in visual arts competitions. In the Children’s Art Competition at the Rancho Santa Margarita “Family and Friends” New Year’s Eve Celebration, Danica Haydt (K) won second prize and Ava Scharf (1) third prize in the K-2nd grade category, and Riley Gather (4) took second prize in the 3-5th grade category. Mackenzie Busch (1), Jessica Simrell (2), Emma Scharf (4), and Matthew Trueman (6) all received certificates from The Orange County Department of Education as well as from the Festival of Arts for Artistic Achievement.

I have been so impressed with the quality of art that I decided that one wall of my office would be a student art gallery. On display now are wonderful works by Ava Scharf (1), Nava Bozorgmehri (5), and Lexi Cook (5). I look forward to showing more student art throughout the year. Please drop by and see our student’s creativity on display. n

“ASHES TO GO” AT ST. JOHN’S by Fr. John, Vicar


met these students on January 23 at St. Jean-Baptiste Episcopal School (that’s St. John’s to you and me) in Léogâne, Haiti, a town near the epicenter of the January 2010 earthquake. I was visiting as a member of the National Association of Episcopal Schools governing board. Children are beautiful everywhere. But seeing these precious, vulnerable ones in a place where nature had behaved so devastatingly made me want to reach out and make the sign of the cross on their foreheads. Which brings me to our plans for Ash Wednesday on March 5. All are welcome at our services at 7 a.m. and 9:15 a.m., noon, and 7 p.m. But if you would like your “ashes to go,” Mrs. Patti and I will be waiting for you at the ECC and back lot drop-offs. Just stop and roll your window down, and we’ll impose ashes and say a few words. It will take less than ten seconds. Then get ready for people to tell you all day that you’ve got something on your forehead. n




ach year St. John’s students participate in dynamic learning experiences outside of the classroom that complement their coursework, and boy have our students been busy! Events such as Pioneer Day and Walk Through California, which invite visiting educational programs to our campus, transported our 2nd and 4th grade students to a time and a place where they had the opportunity to step into historic roles and a way of life far different than what they experience today. Whether students donned pioneer garb to scrub clothes on traditional wash boards or re-enacted the rush of gold miners, these diverse programs enhanced the in-depth unit study covering early American life and the rich history and commerce of California. Our 3rd and 4th grade students ventured off campus to tour the beautiful history of Mission San Juan Capistrano and examine local government at work at the Rancho Santa Margarita City Hall. n

Applied Medical Partners with St. John’s


t. John’s is excited to be working in partnership with Applied Medical of Rancho Santa Margarita. Applied Medical is a new generation medical device corporation providing innovative products that improve patient outcomes and enable the advancement of minimally invasive surgery. Applied Medical is offering tours of their facility to our 8th grade and 2nd grade students. Engineers are meeting with our students to share their stories and explain what it takes to create a successful enterprise. Our 8th Grade has visited the Applied Medical facility to learn how the design process takes place, from engineering inception to manufacturing results. They were treated to a view of the extensive robotics that are used in the manufacturing process and were amazed to watch them in action. Following the tour, our students participated in a Product Fair, which allowed them to interact with the products and ask questions. Eighth grade student Jordan Alvarado commented, “It was so interesting learning how the different medical products are made and how they are used in the surgeries.” Mark Eaton shared, “It was fun to meet the amazing people that work there. I enjoyed seeing how much they liked their jobs!” Aviana Legris said, “I like engineering and I liked seeing how they started with things from scratch. I appreciated seeing the different types of engineering jobs that they had and how much the engineers all seemed to really enjoy what they are doing!”

The Second Grade will visit in March. We also look forward to a team of engineers joining us for our STEAM Day on April 28. Thank you to Applied Medical for their support of education and their partnership with St. John’s! n

State of the School


t was a packed house with over 200 parents in attendance for the annual State of the School dinner and presentation this January. It was our pleasure to host Georgette Yakman, founder of STEAM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics). This innovative approach to teaching and learning builds upon the proven success of STEM, with the addition of Arts integration. We are excited to apply this framework to our existing curriculum and make it our own to further enhance the educational experience for our students. By promoting collaboration, integration, and project based learning, STEAM will help prepare students to work together, think creatively and critically, and lead the way in high school and beyond. STEAM is not a new curriculum. Rather, it is a framework that promotes purposeful integration of the curriculum that we already have in place. Expanding on our current base of cooperative learning and projects, the integration reinforces learning in the various subjects.

As with any new program, there have been many questions. We look forward to engaging parents, students and faculty and staff in the process of creating “STEAM at St. John’s” and will continue to communicate progress. View external resources on STEAM, our frequently asked questions, and subscribe to alerts for future STEAM news at n

Full STEAM Ahead


n January 21, our K - 8 Faculty and Staff attended a training session designed to illustrate how the framework of the new STEAM Program can be creatively integrated into our existing curriculum. The session was put on by Dean Gilbert and Maureen Allen from the Orange County Department of Education and featured hands-on activities that focused on the assimilation of science and engineering practices within liberal arts subjects like English and Writing.

Our Pre-K Faculty also participated in an educational seminar entitled “Handwriting Without Tears,” presented by Pediatric Occupational Therapist Karyn Buky. The seminar consisted of two different workshops, “Reading & Writing” and “Literacy & Math,” and focused on the integration of preliminary reading, writing, and math concepts with multisensory activities. This synergetic approach to teaching is designed to make concepts meaningful and easy to understand, and helps to increase a student’s interest in, and retention of, the material. Thank you to St. John’s parent Karyn Buky for generously donating her time to lend her expertise to our teachers and aides. n






STEAM Milestones Fall 2013 — Faculty Curriculum Advisory Committee established to begin studying STEAM January 16 — State of the School, Keynote by Georgette Yakman, Founder of STEAM Education January 20-23 — 6 member team to STEAM training March 3 — SJES to Present at CAIS Conference - “Power Up With STEAM” March 17-18 — All-faculty STEAM certification training April 28 — STEAM Day with Applied Medical

2014-2015 — Implementation of STEAM



he St. John’s Garden Project is officially underway! The School has been working with landscaper Chuck Verburg to finalize the design for the project and will continue to work with master gardeners and planters throughout the project’s completion. The St. John’s Garden will provide an outdoor classroom designed to enhance curriculum. Each grade level from 1st-8th will have their own planter within the garden. Construction of the St. John’s Garden Project will begin in February and continue throughout March. Be sure to stay tuned for further details and updates on the progress of this exciting enhancement to our campus! n

2013-2014 ANNUAL FUND Your Participation Makes a Difference! Thank you to all of you who have already contributed to this year’s Annual Fund! Currently, we are at 44% parent participation. If you have not given already, we ask that you consider how your family can help us reach our goal of 100% participation. Our School Committee, PTF, faculty & staff are totally committed and have 100% participation. Please join us as we work to achieve our goals! CURRENT DONOR LIST: Anonymous (26) The Aase Family Anna Abele Ruth & Rafael Acosta Susan and Tony Adame Scott Adams & Kathy Graham Family Trust Shahriar and Whitney Alikhani Tania Alinaghian Maureen Alva Jon & Stefanie Alvanos Kristina Amante Lucas and Beth Anderson Toby Ellen Armstrong Shauna Atchley Charles & Caren Aufhammer Bank of America Matching Gifts Imad & Ola Banna Monica Read Barnum Joseph and Maria Barrera The Basford Family August & Virginia Belmont Erin Beranek Larisa Bergeron Frank and Doreen Bernard Biddiscombe Family Lisa Bivens Ian and Jenny Bochenek Kyle Bollar Melissa Bonhall Sheila Borges Randall and Jamie Born The Boukai Family Joy Emig-Boyd Russell and Madyson Boyd Nedda & Nava Bozorgmehri The Breaux Family Christian and Ann Buccola The Burch Family Bob and Carrie Burton Geraldine R. Cahill, PHD Lisa Caine Cindy Campbell Capital Group Co Charitable Foundation Clif & Addie Carder The Carlson Family The Carr Family Dora M. Caruso Alberto Castro and Claudia Barragan-Castro Todd and Nikki Cawthron Phillip & Laura Chang Gary & Peggy Chiate Jim and Stephanie Chiate Melissa Christian Mr. and Mrs. Carl C. Christopher Anthony & Sharon Christopher The Clemons Family Marie Clemons Al & Pat Clerc Clerc Family

Debby Cole John and Vicki Confrey Jay & Sheri Cook Sue Corbett Brian and Whitney Costanzo The Coulston Family Celia D. Coulter Shirley Coulter Jonathan and Helen Cressy Gwen & Jim Croce The Cuda Family Pete & Patty Cyr Robert H. Davenport Phil & Kandi deCarion Joy Denman Greg and Janice Dennis Jonathan & Jody Dennis The Dickerson Family Ninette Dimock Seth Dochterman The Doyle Family Cynthia A. Drennan Mark & Minerva Duffell Jeff and Francine Echtenkamp The Eckstein Family Shannon Edwards Steve and Anna Ehrlich The Elia Family The Elliott Family Mr. & Mrs. Frank Escalante The Farinella-Collinske Family The Fischer Family Sandra Flick The Flynn Family Gerry & Suzanne Flynn Grandpa Ford The Freeman Family Nancy Freese Daina Frias Heidi Fries The Futrell Family Joe and Dawn Gallis David and Barbara Gately Connie Girolamo Sergio and Tina Gonzales Robin and Ted Grier Ann Marie & Ed Dryden Griggs Family The Grimm Family Jon and Libby Grogan Mr. and Mrs. Tim and Sheryll Grogan Jerry & Gerry Gross Steven and Dana Gross Grumet Family Sharri Guerrero David and Lindsey Guest Peter Guethlein The Guida Family James Guo Chad Hagle The Hageman Family Nick & Vicki Hanna

Elizabeth Sue Hardy Dan & Carol Anne Harves Phil, Meryl, and Evan Hashimoto Brian and Julie Hassine The Hawker Family Kathleen Hawkins Daniel and Monica Haydt Mette Haydt The Hemphill Family Tyler and Becky Hesson John & Victoria Higgins Tom & Renee Hill Lewis and Nancy Hines Gary and Jennifer Hoff Mr. & Mrs. Jack Hogan & Family Bob & Jayne Jacobson The Janis Family The Jara Family The Craig Johnson Family Terry and Julie Johnson Cory Jones & Yuru Jiang Bjorn and Bridget Jonsson JP Morgan Chase Dave and Joy Justus Joy & Matt Kemmerle Ken Kern Sean and Brooke Kern Richard and Lisa Ketchum Robby and Carolina Khalek Jim & Gerda Kilgore Amy Klein Erin Kolk The Koran Family Eric & Paula Krantz James P and Barbara A Krouse Kim & Mark Krouse Mr. and Mrs. Rick Kurtz Lisa Lake Gina L’amour The Lansing Family Mark and Tammy Leara The Leavell Family Ian and Sally-Anne Leisegang Antal Lener Tracey LeSage Mary Lewis Robert & Wendy Lewis Dawn Lindeman Mike & Karen Long The Lusby Family Ed & Teri Lutterloh Michael & Kindra Letterloh Brittany D. Lynn Crystal Huang and Sarah Ma Patrick and Catherine Magruder Mr. & Mrs. Frank Mancera Stephanie Martin Raleigh & Wendy Massey The Massey Family Ann and Jim May Bob and Rhonda Mayer The Mayer Family Mike and Vicki Maynes


ECC: 53% K: 63% 1st: 65% 2nd: 48% 3rd: 80%

Guy and Mari McCall Eric and Audree McClintick Martha M. McCool Kelly McGovern Jason and Danielle McLennan The McMahon Family Allen & Sybille McNamee Jim & Mara McPartland Paul & Martha McShane Debprah Mecklenburg Bill Mecklenburg and Christine Condino-Mecklenburg Fil and Len Medina Tom and Denise Meena The Meixner Family Anthony & Jennifer Mendoza The Meng Family Mr. and Mrs. Kennard Meng The Merritt Family Eric & Wendy Miller Sam and Susan Mohtar Mehran & Kevlin Molkara David and Hannah Morales The Morgan Family Mr. & Mrs. Murdock Darryl & Mary Nauroth Donald and Vickie Nickles Jennifer Niemi The Nishimi Family John & Carrie O’Malley The O’Toole Family Mike and Danielle Pacheco Srini Pagidyala and Nan Singh Dan & Desiree Pahomi Mr. & Mrs. Jerry Paolone Raj Patel The Patrick Family Pat & Leah Patterson Eric and Peggy Patton The Pearson Family Fernando Pedraza Scott & Patti Peebles The Pellerin Family Patrick & Kellie Pendergest Ann Petersen The Pilkerton Family Chris and Su Plamondon Joe and Doris Pospichal Michael Pratt and Susan Key Paul and Gail Price Randy & Meko Price Yvonne Priore The Pupil Family Cindy Putman The Queen Family Ali and Lori Rafatjoo The Rednour Family Sean and Mary Ricks The Rogers Family Phil & Alison Romero Rudy & Wendy Ruiz Helen & John Rydell John & Lisa Rydell

4th: 70% 5th: 76% 6th: 67% 7th: 48% 8th: 26%

Ronaldo A. Salvanera Sr. Rolando Salvanera Jr. and Eleanor Datu-Salvanera Jill and Brian Sampson Lauren Sanders The Sarachman Family Janine Scalleat The Scharf Family Lydia and Dan Schimmelpfenig Katie Scott Asha Sharma Nadia Shcherbakoff Malina Shuy Catherine Sjostedt Geoffrey & Nicole Small The Smith Family The Snyder Family St. John’s Episcopal Church Diane Stetson Steve and Patty Stoecker David and Angel Stoller The Svinth Family Steve and Darylee Tanner Kathy Taylor St. John’s Episcopal Church Ty & Caroline Taylor Teitelman family Robert & Liz Terry Kirby & Jan Alton The Thiessen Family The Timmons Family Paul and Cathy Tinsley Pete & Deborah Todd Stacey & Dave Tourtlotte Michele Townsend The Travagline Family Min and Peter Trist The Trueman Family Darlene & Greg Tucker Bob & Kathy Urell Todd & Joan Vernon Rajdeep Family Ron and Sheri Wade Paul & Michelle Walters Sarah Ward Kathy Weber John and Barbara Welles The Whitley Family David and Norma Wight The Williams Family Gary and Kari Williamson Mr. and Mrs. Gary Wilson Cindy A. Wilson Bryan Winn Marsi Wolder Ed and Janie Yashar The Yellen Family Arch & Janet Young The Michael Yurkovich Family Rob and April Zahr Kathie Zimmer


Silver Sponsor The Mayer Family



nnual Fund provides us our margin of excellence. Funds raised through the Annual Fund help to enhance the superior educational experience all of our students deserve. All funds are applied to the current fiscal year and are held completely separate from the Capital Campaign, and directly support our teachers and students through professional development, field studies, technology, and more. Participation is important. Foundations and corporate giving programs are more likely to support the School with grant funding if parent participation is high. Last year our parent participation was just over 50% — most independent schools of our size average 90-100% participation. We can do better!

Anniversary Sponsor The Clemons Family The Cyr Family The Guida Family Celebration Sponsor The Carlson Family The Chiate Family The Doyle Family The Flynn Family Anonymous The Craig Johnson Family The Mecklenburg Family The Rydell Family The Scharf Family The Terry Family The Yurkovich Family

Independent Schools depend on Annual Giving. Unlike public or even Catholic parish schools, we are an independent school that receives no financial assistance apart from tuition. St. John’s tuition levels are at or below other independent schools, both locally and state-wide. The Annual Fund makes it possible to keep tuition increases in check while still advancing the educational program each year. n

To learn more about the Annual Fund and how St. John’s tuition and giving compare with other schools, visit us online at!

Save the Date 2014 gala



APRIL 5, 2014 – 5:30 PM

THE HYATT REGENCY HUNTINGTON BEACH RESORT AND SPA Join us for a roaring event as we celebrate St. John’s 25th Anniversary, honor Mr. Lusby, and enjoy an incredible night of fundraising and fellowship.

Donations and volunteers are still needed. Learn more about getting involved with this fantastic event at or contact the Advancement Office at (949) 858-5144 or


St. John’s Teachers Are Top Notch!


ongratulations to our own Amy Hemphill and Catherine Sjostedt who have been recognized as two of Orange County’s Top 25 Teachers by OC Parenting Magazine. We are so proud of Amy and Catherine who have shown great commitment and dedication to their students and to St. John’s.

Amy Hemphill, an educator at St. John’s for the past 18 years, teaches 6th Grade English and Writing, serves as our Middle School Media Specialist, and has been a teacher advisor for our Middle School book club A Reason to Cheer! affectionately known as The Logophiliacs. Amy also created our Road to High School class when she saw a need to improve our communication with 8th grade students and families regarding the application process for high school. She is incredibly gifted in reaching all learning abilities. Whether conducting novel studies or guiding complex Prezi presentations, she is beloved by all her students Catherine Sjostedt, our school librarian of 10 years, provides rich and interactive weekly lessons to our preschool and elementary classes. She offers  Open Library, giving students an opportunity to engage in library activities during recess and lunch periods. Catherine’s passion for literature is infectious. She excels in her ability to connect with students with her original approach to conveying subject matter, and exhibits a superior capacity to satisfy students’ requests for specific reading material.

Make sure to read more about Amy and Catherine’s accomplishments in the February issue of Parenting OC Magazine! n


he 2013-2014 Boys’ A Basketball season is off to a great start! This January, the team won the tournament championship at Mater Dei High School and, just one week later, earned another 1st place trophy at the home tournament hosted in the St. John’s gym. Thank you to everyone who has come out to show your support! Go Cardinals! n

Grandparents Day 2013


ore than 450 grandparents and special friends of our Early Childhood through 8th grade students enjoyed a beautiful day on campus as our honored guests for the annual tradition of Grandparents Day at St. John’s. Our very special guests participated in classroom activities, performances, chapel services and a Grand Book Fair. This beloved event perfectly exemplified our school’s mission of encouraging all family members to be active participants in their children’s education. n

St. John’s Golf Tournament


n December 6, 110 golfers took to the greens for the 3rd Annual St. John’s Episcopal School Golf Tournament at the beautiful 18-hole Tijeras Creek Golf Course in Rancho Santa Margarita. Thank you to St. John’s dads, Gordon Clemons, Matt Miller, and Mike Yurkovich, who graciously coordinated this successful event.

The tournament was enjoyed by all and filled with on-course challenges, a Helicopter Ball Drop, and a dinner reception with dancing. The St. John’s tournament was a fun-filled day that raised close to $20,000 to fund St. John’s programs! n



o celebrate St. John’s 25th anniversary, the St. John’s community is working together to complete 25 Acts of Gratitude. Our Cardinals have been very busy making a difference in our community!

November Our 7th Grade partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank to work as gleaners and help pick fresh produce in local agricultural fields, which was donated to the hungry throughout Orange County. Members of the faculty, staff, and parents raised awareness and funds for pancreatic cancer through the PurpleStride 5K walk in memory of former faculty member, Celia Jonnson. The Church and School

worked together to collect and distribute food items for the RSM Food Bank.

December The Student Council, PALS, and Middle School Choir travelled to RSM’s Park Terrace Senior Living Community to sing Christmas carols. St. John’s celebrated its 10th year of participation in Operation Christmas Spirit and adopted 40 Marine families and 40 single Marines, providing gifts, cards of support, and care packages to help make their Christmas extra special. January The 3rd Grade took a trip to the Maddie James Seaside Learning Center at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point

along with the 3rd grade students at Pio Pico Elementary School in Santa Ana. Students from both schools became buddies and exchanged letters in anticipation of this special trip. As part of the State of the School night, students collected towels and blankets to benefit the animals at the Mission Viejo Animal Shelter. See more photos and learn how to get involved in upcoming Acts of Gratitude at n

St. John’s Superstars


e are so proud of our students’ accomplishments both in and out of the classroom!

Congratulations to 1st grade student Mason Andreini for placing first at the Staser Chess Tournament at the Irvine Great Park over Thanksgiving break! St. John’s 5th grade students Lexi and Kenny Cook both placed 2nd in the American Protégé International Vocal Competition and were invited to sing solos at Carnegie Hall in the winners’ recital. Kenny won 2nd place in Classical and Lexi won 2nd place in Musical Theater.

In December 2013, St. John’s alumnus Karna Small (class of 2012) organized a fundraising event where she debuted her song “Fight Like a Girl” at Garman’s Restaurant in Mission Viejo. Karna wrote this song to support her friend Emma Griffith in her fight against osteosarcoma. 100% of the sale proceeds of Karna’s CD from the night went to the Griffith family! Eighth grade student Alexis Fintland won the La Canada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association 2014 Rose Parade Concept Contest for her float design concept, “Dog Gone.” Alexis was in the grandstand on New Year’s Day at the prestigious and time-honored Rose Parade. “Dog Gone” was such a crowd pleaser that it took home this year’s Bob Hope Humor Award!

Seventh grade student Taylor Hershorin’s cheer team won the National Championship (age 13 bracket) at the JAMZ competition in Las Vegas! With 30,000 people and 600 teams, competition was fierce, but that didn’t stop Taylor’s team from coming out on top! n

Do you have a St. John’s superstar? Let us know at

My St. John’s Story

By Virginia Belmont – Mother of A.J., Andrew & William


hen writing about what St. John’s has meant to my family, I was surprised that I couldn’t easily pinpoint my thoughts. At the risk of sounding cliché, I realized that it has meant everything to us. More than I had previously considered. It hasn’t been just a nice place to get a good education. And it is more than just a “school community” as we so often refer to it. St. John’s has become an extension of our home. The teachers, administrators, fellow parents and students of St. John’s have become our family, and literal partners in raising our children.

I wandered onto campus in May 2000 to meet with the preschool director Gretchen Shoren. I had two boys in tow, 1 and 3 years old, and another due that summer. I’d been to three other preschools that week but St. John’s had me at hello. I wasn’t given another perfunctory tour. Instead I felt like I had been invited to have coffee with an old friend who had lots of good advice and immediately made us feel at home. In a spiritual sense, I knew right away that we belonged

work together, and even to mourn our loved ones. It’s a level of camaraderie you don’t find just anywhere.

here. My oldest son was enrolled in the preschool that fall and we have been a St. John’s family ever since. I can’t begin to summarize what the last 14 years have encompassed for our family. Yes, my boys have been incredibly well educated from an academic standpoint. But I expected that. What I couldn’t have imagined is that we would take a journey spanning my children’s entire childhoods, with incredible experiences that bridged back and forth from school to home. I didn’t expect that families we met in preschool would still be our nearest and dearest friends. I couldn’t have guessed that Mr. Lusby would be the one to ease my fears on 9/11, when he implored us to bring our children to school the next day so they would feel safe. When my youngest was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, right here in the nurse’s office, we received an outpouring of love, concern, and personalized care that continues to this day. It has been a gift to spend our days in a place where everyone from the headmaster to the janitor knows our names and makes us all feel safe, welcome, and happy. Time and time again, I’ve seen the St. John’s community come together to celebrate, cheer,

Most surprising was how much time I myself would spend here. Whether it was coming into the classroom to read, working a booth at Family Festival, serving in the lunchroom, or decorating for Grandparents Day, I would raise my hand to volunteer, not because I had to, because I wanted to. Last year I hosted a “Ghosts of PTF Past” Christmas party, sort of a reunion of all the women who worked alongside me over the years to make St. John’s not just a part of our children’s lives but our own lives. These are women who, like me, wanted their children to grow up in the company of teachers, administrators, mentors, parents and friends who share our values and truly care about each other. We got all of that, and more. 

Next year my last child will graduate from St. John’s. I can’t believe that combined, A.J., Andrew and William will have enjoyed 33 school years here. They call kids like mine “lifers” – and aptly so. They are ready for life. They have been transformed from insecure toddlers to confident men, ready to go off to college and begin lives of their own. They will always have with them the security that comes from having strong family roots and bonds. We will be forever grateful to our St. John’s family for being just that… our family. n

WHAT IS YOUR ST. JOHN’S STORY? Do you have a unique experience that your child or family would like to share in the next newsletter? Send your story to


The Cardinal Newsletter - Winter 2014  

The quarterly newsletter of St. John's Episcopal School

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