Kaitland Walling

A highlight of the celebration was a performance by the St. Robert Bellarmine School Band and flautist Kaitland Walling. (Courtesy photo / January 29, 2013)

As members of the St. Robert Bellarmine (SRB) School Band raised their instruments under the direction of Music Coordinator Paul Angers, the school's principal, Dr. June Rosena, proudly pointed out from the courtyard near the stage that the band had only been playing together for four months and now played every morning during the salute to the flag. Overhearing that comment, Robert Alviani, who attended the school in the 1960s, said standing in that courtyard filled him with a wave of nostalgic memories of the many times he had stood in that same spot and made the pledge as a child.

As Alviani reveled in his memories, hundreds of the schools current students were making memories as the school celebrated its 75th anniversary this past Sunday.

The open house reception, billed as “75 Years of Excellence in Educating Children,” included an art and science fair, musical performances, face painting, crafts stations and an eclectic mix of edibles offered by various food trucks.

The day had begun with students, Principal Rosena and members of the faculty and staff joining the parish's pastor, Father John Collins, in celebrating the school's diversity during morning Mass.

Located on 5th Street between Olive Avenue and Magnolia Boulevard, St. Robert Bellarmine Parish was completed in 1909, making it the first Catholic Church in the San Fernando Valley. Twenty-seven years later, when a new church was constructed across the street, the former church building became the parish school. Opened in September of 1936, with grades one through four and an enrollment of 88 pupils, the school continued to grow and, in 1987, after 51 years of administration by the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the reins were turned over to Principal Rosena who today presides over 12 classrooms, two kindergarten classes, grades one through eight, a computer center, reading lab and library.

Among the numerous individuals who made Sunday's celebration a success were members of the event committee Teresa Girillo D'Agostaro, Patty Bertole and Art Mayor and members of the school's facility and staff including Shirley Rufas, Wyomi Fernando, Albert Rosena Jr., Sawsan Ibrahim, Lance Alexander, Caroline Behrens, Theresa Coomes, Xenia Renteria, Deborah Mariscal, Rachel Rufus, Margaret Nardoni, Claudia Gleason, Donna Santa Cruz, Carol Mares, Anna Lucero, Jose Robles and Rod Rosato.

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DAVID LAURELL can be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.