Overcast mid-winter skies could not dampen the enthusiasm of parents and their young children arriving at St. Dominic School in Eagle Rock for the opening of the new preschool Feb. 13.

“We’re very happy that, not only in the middle of the school year, but in the middle of February, parents are still excited about being able to enroll their children at this time of the year,” said Dominican Father Peter Rogers, pastor, who gave a blessing on the sidewalk in front of the preschool entry gate before a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“Parents have been asking for a preschool for as long as I’ve been here,” said Elida Lujan, who has been St. Dominic’s principal for seven years. When Father Rogers approached Lujan last March about starting a preschool, she jumped at the opportunity.

Preparations included moving junior high classes from the “quad” end of the school to another part of campus, creating a separate area for the preschool as required by the California Department of Social Services for any childcare or preschool facility.

“We had to put a gate up so that our little 3- and 4-year olds cannot get out into the regular school area and our older students cannot get in,” explained Father Rogers. “This gives the preschool a very separate, unique identity and the preschoolers a place of their own.” 

The preschool offers full day and half day programs on weekdays as well as extended care in the early morning and late afternoon hours until 6:30 p.m.

Father Rogers noted that when parents brought their children for an evening orientation Feb. 9, the kids didn’t need any coaxing to explore their new classroom. According to the pastor, “The children got into everything; you could not hear a sound. They were into the dolls, the trucks, the plastic letters on the floor --- just playing, playing and playing. It was hard for the parents to get them out of the room to go home at 8:30.”

Marisa Bell, a Department of Social Services employee who has enrolled her 3 ¬Ω-year-old daughter, Audrey, at the preschool said that she spent a lot of time looking at schools in the Eagle Rock neighborhood of Los Angeles.

“I’ve done my homework,” said Bell. “I have visited every preschool and home day care in Eagle Rock. I was very happy to learn St. Dominic’s was opening a preschool because I wanted my daughter to have a solid foundation in religion and a good education.”

Karen Cortes, a St. Dominic’s parishioner enrolling her five-year-old daughter, Kaden, in the Pre-K program, taught by the preschool’s director, Danielle Serafin, said she welcomes the preschool where she plans to enroll her year-and-a-half-old son when he is 3.

“The reason why we chose St. Dominic’s for our daughter was so she could get to know her religion better. I didn’t get the chance to go to school here, so I’m giving her the opportunity to come,” said Cortes.

For Brian Escanilla, a St. Dominic parishioner who recently moved into the area, the choice of where to enroll his four-year-old daughter Bryannah was easy. “I picked this school because it is Catholic,” said Escanilla.

Principal Lujan hopes that the preschool will be a magnet for families who will later enroll their children in St. Dominic’s kindergarten, boosting attendance at the 200-student K-8 school. “Our responsibility now is to get the children ready to stay with us,” said Lujan.

In his blessing, Father Rogers prayed that the children would be given “a desire to learn through play” and that the teachers would “strive to share their knowledge with gentle patience and endeavor always to bring the truth to these eager minds.”

For further information on the preschool, call St. Dominic’s school office at (323) 255-5803 or log on to www.stdominicla.us.

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