Laguna Blanca Celebrates 75 years

Founded in 1933 by Edward Selder Spaulding, Laguna Blanca School began as an all-boys’ school. Harold Chase had wanted to develop the Hope Ranch area of Santa Barbara. Chase donated the property for the school in Hope Ranch. Edward was the Headmaster from 1933 through 1953. The school started out with 40 boys and 6 teachers.

In 1942, the school became co-ed and in 1957, a kindergarten was added. Spaulding was followed by Headmasters Samuel Rugg (1957-1960), Jack Adams (1961), and Art Merovick (1983-1993). Merovick is responsible for the Study Center, the school’s first computers, and the gym, which is named after him. Headmaster Michael Collins (1993-1997) increased the enrollment of the school to 330 students. In 1999, the Montecito Lower School campus was established under Headmaster Steve Repshur. Current Headmaster Douglas W. Jessup took over in 2002, and he brought on Lower School Director Susan Naretto.

The first school celebration of its founding was held at the Lower School Campus in Montecito on Friday, September 21, at 1 pm. The Lower School 75th Birthday Blast-off Event Chair is Barbie Zimmerman. The 75th Anniversary Event Co-Chairs are Wendy van Diver and Martha Donelan.

The celebration commenced with opening remarks about the importance of the founding of the school by Lower School Director Susan Naretto, Headmaster Douglas W. Jessup, and alumna Kristen Blabey '95.

“Much of what makes Laguna most special,” Jessup intoned, “has not changed one bit, such as the excellence of our teachers, the wonderfully engaged students we enroll and the fantastic families who supportively partner with the school. Today we are celebrating Laguna's history as well as our future. We celebrate our history by playing some of the old-fashioned games a student would have played seventy-five years ago, and we celebrate our future with the planting of the Torrey Pine."

The students sang a happy birthday song and then proceeded to the Torrey Pine planting area at the campus. The Torrey Pine planting is a conservation project in partnership with the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden and Laguna Blanca School. Laguna School parents Sandra Lawyer and Dawn O’Donnell located 75 redwood saplings. The trees, donated by the O’Donnell Family, were planted on both Laguna campuses, at Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, and in parks around the community. At the Lower School celebration, a symbolic grove of these redwood saplings was planted outside the Beltran Science building on campus, along with a time capsule filled with objects the students chose during their first few weeks of school.

Students and guests were served cake and libations, and then went to the sports field for musical entertainment by the Upper School Band, and to play with a few “old-fashioned” toys like hula-hoops, and to enjoy an old-fashioned sack race.

For more of this year’s 75th anniversary events, go to: