St. Stephen’s Episcopal preparing for its preschool’s 50th anniversary

Panelists discuss various issues relating to the struggles of youth and the LGBTQ community at the Celebration of Pride event at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church in Newhall. Samie Gebers/The Signal

St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church’s preschool is gearing up to honor 50 years of teaching with a grand celebration in September.

The tentative plan for Sept. 7 is to hold a ceremony with the church to recognize the preschool’s impact for children and even adults across the Santa Clarita Valley who at one time in their lives were students there, according to David Warburton, communications group member.

“It’s not a requirement for children to be Episcopalian to attend,” he said. “Most people who go are not. We’ve had people from just about every faith background and none at all. It’s amazing when I mention going to the church in conversations around town and someone says, ‘My daughter went there two decades ago.’ The preschool has a real connection to the community.”

The preschool “welcomes all children regardless of religion, race, national ancestry or family configuration,” according to a description on their website.

The preschool opened in 1969 before the church was built, Warburton said, whereas the adjacent church located on Orchard Village Road in Valencia was not built until 1994.

Preschool director Amanda Foster has led the way for the preschool to celebrate 50 years in the Santa Clarita Valley. In the years following the Great Recession, Foster took over and turned the preschool around, Warburton said, as preschool staff and students had left due to financial constraints. Under her leadership, the preschool drew in families and expanded the number of students.

“She’s done a really fine job,” Warburton said. “She’s been super.”

Additional details on other 50th anniversary-centered events at the preschool are still to be determined, Warburton said.

As well as providing a preschool, St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church has been the meeting space for other faiths across Santa Clarita, including Jewish and Muslim congregations in the past, and groups like QueerSCV and PFLAG in recent years.

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