• About the Campaign

    The Building on the Promise capital campaign supports the St. Margaret’s Episcopal School strategic plan and master campus development plan that include building a new Middle School campus and Performing Arts Center and the 21st Century Learning Initiative, among other needed resources.

    Click Here to read more.
  • “We Promise” Film

    View our short film to learn about the Building on the Promise Campaign and to view detailed 3D renderings of the planned Middle School and Performing Arts Center buildings.

Message from Board President Michael J. Berchtold

Dear Members of the St. Margaret’s Episcopal School Community,

The 2010-2011 school year has been a memorable year of achievement and progress for St. Margaret’s Episcopal School.

The most visible signs of this wonderful year are the 103 graduating seniors who donned their college sweatshirts today, the last official day of school, proudly displaying the diverse group of colleges and universities across the country they will attend this fall. The Class of 2011 joined together one last time with the entire St. Margaret’s student body for the all-school closing ceremony that concluded with a “topping out” ceremony of the Performing Arts Center marking the highest point on the new building and symbolizing the significant progress we have made on our campus master plan this year.

We are pleased to report that the Performing Arts Center construction is on time and on budget with a grand opening set for June 2012. The Building on the Promise capital campaign has also continued to raise considerable funds for the master campus plan. Currently, we have raised $19.4 million of the $28 million needed to complete the master plan—nearly $3 million since September 2010. We are very grateful for the generous support of those who have stepped forward to make leadership gifts to this effort.

While the temporary Middle School has worked very well for us this year, we remain focused on raising the additional funds within our school community and finalizing tenant relocations to allow us to begin construction of the permanent Middle School in the near future. We will be sure to keep you apprised of our progress.

In May, 435 parents responded to a parent satisfaction survey created by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS). Over the course of the summer we will review and analyze the data and report our findings in the fall. Initially we can report that 90 percent of our parents are overall “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with the St. Margaret’s education for their children. We are very mindful that there is always room for improvement, but pleased that this initial outlook indicates a strong alignment of our school community with our mission.

Several strategic initiatives advanced this year as well. Led by our Academic Dean and Lower School Principal, Dr. Regina McDuffie, we addressed student and teacher assessment and feedback tools across all divisions of the school in an effort to measure student growth over time toward specific learning goals. Data gathered from this initiative has also been used to increase opportunities for faculty professional development, including credentialing and advanced degrees. The information gathered from these assessment tools provides data needed to implement best practices for the 21st century learner.

In addition, the Board of Trustees Finance Committee embarked on long-term financial sustainability analysis and planning for the school that will position St. Margaret’s for continued financial strength through the next two decades.

Our school’s success is a product of the shared understanding, dedication, vision and hard work of countless individuals—our students, faculty, parents and administration, led by our Headmaster of eight years, Mr. Marcus D. Hurlbut. We have tremendous confidence in him and I am pleased to announce that Marc has committed to the Board of Trustees his leadership of the school through the 2012-2013 school year.

We will also welcome new trustees to the board next year. St. Margaret’s parents Mrs. Flora Ko and Mr. Paul Westhead, Tartan Alumni Association President and parent Dr. Todd Newman and 2011-2012 Parent Teacher Fellowship President Mrs. Karen Carnahan, join the Board on July 1, 2011. Longtime Trustees Ms. Stacey Nicholas and Mr. Chris Anderson, 2010-2011 PTF President Mrs. Tricia Raymund and outgoing Tartan Alumni Association President Mrs. Ashlea Scott Meggers will leave the Board at the end of June. We offer our sincere gratitude for their exemplary leadership and dedicated service to the school.

Finally, we are slated for continued full enrollment of the school for the 2011-2012 school year and eagerly anticipate the completion of the Performing Arts Center this time next year. Thank you for your continued support and involvement in our St. Margaret’s community and we look forward to coming together once again at the end of August for the 2011-2012 school year.

Have a wonderful summer.


Michael J. Berchtold

President, Board of Trustees


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SMES Celebrates the End of the School Year and the “Topping Out” of the PAC Building

This was a week of celebration at St. Margaret’s. From the Lower School Awards Chapel to the grade 5 recognition, grade 8 promotion and graduation events, the community celebrated individual and class achievements in each division of St. Margaret’s. On Wednesday, St. Margaret’s entire student, faculty and staff gathered in the Pasternack Field House to mark the conclusion of the 2010-11 school year with the All-School Closing Ceremony and the “topping out” of the Performing Arts Center construction.

The ceremony was a culmination of the school year, a send off for the Class of 2011, who, seated together wore the sweatshirts from the colleges they will attend in the fall, and a time to acknowledge the members of St. Margaret’s who celebrate significant anniversaries. Headmaster Marcus D. Hurlbut presented the people listed below with a gift and congratulated them on their years of service to the school.

The closing ceremony ended with the singing of the alma mater and the Tartan Marching Band leading the entire student body, faculty, staff and administration from Pasternack Field House to Gateway Field to celebrate the “topping out” of the Performing Arts Center construction. The enthusiastic crowd viewed the two final beams being placed on the new Performing Arts Center construction building, signaling the highest point that the building will reach. Throughout the week, students, faculty and staff took time to sign the two beams prior to them being placed at the top of the building.

During the All-School Closing Ceremony, Mr. Hurlbut said:

“By all measure, this has been an outstanding year at St. Margaret’s. So many of you have brought honor to the school through your talent, dedication and hard work in the classroom, in the science labs, on, behind and above the stage, in the art studio, in Chapel, on the fields, courts and tracks, in the pool, on the golf course, in the equestrian ring, and in dedicated service to a wide variety of groups and organizations on and off campus.

“We have all witnessed the beginning of another long-awaited and exciting chapter in the history of St. Margaret’s as the Performing Arts Center has risen out of the ground and begun to take shape.

“Those of you in the Middle School moved into a temporary new home and very quickly made it your own.

“When we return in the fall, the Performing Arts Center will look different than it does today but it will be far from finished. It is my every hope that next year at this time we will have opened this extraordinary new facility.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Construction Update 12/9

If you’ve visited our campus in the last few weeks, you’ve most likely seen significant changes to our landscape—including the absence of Highland Hall. The following is a construction update on the Performing Arts Center since the groundbreaking on November 16.

  • Demolition, grading and building permits have been issued by the City of San Juan Capistrano.
  • Our general contractor, Del Amo Construction (DAC), has moved their full-time project management team into offices in Building I in the Ortega Business Center, adjacent to the construction site.
  • St. Margaret’s administration and DAC have established best practice procedures for DAC employees as they interact on campus.
  • The entire construction zone has been enclosed with fencing to secure and protect the project site.
  • Demolition of Highland Hall and Building H has been completed.
  • All materials are being properly handled and removed with highest safety and sustainability standards.
  • Approximately 81 percent of demolition materials are being salvaged and reclaimed. Wood, studs, beams and other construction materials are reused as building materials. Concrete products are taken to be crushed and reused as road base.
  • December continues to be a heavy month for DAC to work out the preconstruction activities.

  • Demolition and all material removal will be completed.
  • Construction materials will be submitted to the City for approval.
  • Grading, excavation and undeground utility work will begin.
  • To view the live webcam of the construction site click here.

    This project is being overseen by St. Margaret’s Director of Finance and Operations David Bush and Project Director Dick Jonovich. We will continue to provide you with updates on construction activity periodically through the year.

    For information about the Building on the Promise capital campaign, please contact Lara Farhadi at 949-661-0108 ext. 353, or visit www.smes.org.

    For your personal safety and for the ongoing smooth operations of construction, please adhere to the construction site safety procedures communicated to the community last week. To view that message, click here.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Campus Construction and Building on the Promise Update

Dear Members of the St. Margaret’s Episcopal School Community,

Since my message to the St. Margaret’s community in June, our school leadership has made meaningful progress on the campus construction plans regarding the Performing Arts Center and Middle School. As stated in my prior letter, the school’s recent focus has been on the initial pre-construction activity, the construction bidding process, tenant relocations and capital campaign fundraising. Detailed below is an update on the progress to date and an outline of our next steps going forward.

Progress Since June
Over the summer, the temporary Middle School was erected and fully operational by the start of the school year. The early feedback from the students, parents and faculty has been extremely positive, and the new facility, named “Crimson Corner” by the Middle School students, represents an upgrade over the older facilities they replaced.

Also, over the last few months, we completed a comprehensive construction bid process for the Performing Arts Center and Middle School. Seven well-qualified general contractors participated in the bidding process. Negotiations have not been finalized, but we are pleased with the preliminary results. Based on current bids, the anticipated cost for the Performing Arts Center and Middle School project is approximately $28 million—substantially less than what the cost would have been two to three years ago when construction costs were significantly higher.

Our campus master plan, which was unanimously approved in March by the San Juan Capistrano City Council after several years of work, specifies the precise location for each contemplated new building. The new Middle School is scheduled to be built in the area where two Ortega Business Center buildings now stand. When the school purchased these properties, we inherited certain long-term lease contracts. Therefore, it has been necessary to initiate relocation discussions with tenants because the buildings must first be vacated and demolished before construction of the Middle School can begin. At this time, we have successfully reached tenant relocation agreements with all tenants but one. The timing for the construction of the Middle School could, therefore, be delayed. We remain firmly committed, however, to the building of the new Middle School as soon as feasible.

In terms of fundraising, there has been considerable enthusiasm for the Building on the Promise capital campaign since the launch of the public campaign earlier this year. We have received more than $5 million in commitments since the beginning of the 2009-2010 school year. This brings the total funds raised to nearly $17 million. Relative to the anticipated cost of the total project, approximately $11 million still needs to be raised.

Next Steps
Based on the progress to date, the Board of Trustees recently reaffirmed the decision to move forward with the next phase of our campus master plan. We plan to finalize the fixed-price construction contract by early November and break ground on the Performing Arts Center shortly thereafter on St. Margaret’s Day, November 16 (details to come on the groundbreaking ceremony). Given that there remain tenant relocation matters and funds to be raised, we will not start construction of the Performing Arts Center and Middle School simultaneously. However, once these issues are resolved, we will be in a position to construct the Middle School on a relatively short timetable.

We are extremely excited about the plans taking shape at St. Margaret’s. We are also grateful for the tremendous community support that is making these plans a reality. It is a great time to be a Tartan!


Michael J. Berchtold
President, Board of Trustees

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Campus Construction Update 8/25

We are pleased to share with you an update on our summer construction projects. Please see the points below and view a chronological photo gallery (click here) of the work that has been accomplished since our last update on July 30, 2010.

  • New grade 7 and 8 classrooms are complete. Teachers will begin preparing their rooms tomorrow to be ready the first day of school and we expect a formal Certificate of Occupancy this week.
  • The installation of Middle School lockers, picnic tables and landscaping is in progress.
  • Utility infrastructure work on campus to install power lines, transformers, water lines, storm drains and communication cables, in preparation for construction of the Performing Arts Center, is complete.
  • The new Wee Tartan Childcare Center is complete, and we expect licensing agency approval to occupy by the start of school.
  • Redevelopment of the Middle School parking lot and the new access road is ongoing and will be completed by the start of school.
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Mid-Summer Construction Update

Dear Friends,

This is an update on the construction taking place that we told you about at the end of the school year. It’s half-way through summer and already so much has happened as you will see in this photo gallery [click here] or when you come to campus. Here’s an overview of what has been taking place:

  • The portable classrooms behind Highland Hall have been demolished and removed.
  • The Highland Hall parking lot has been excavated and graded to make way for the new access road to campus.
  • We are in the process of installing new underground electrical wiring, transformers, communications cables, storm drains and water lines in the Ortega Business Center, on the Gateway Field and in the Highland Hall parking lot, to prepare for new buildings.
  • On a portion of the Gateway Field, foundations have been poured for what will bethe new temporary home of 7th and 8th grades.
  • The pre-fabricated modular classrooms have started to arrive and will soon beinstalled on their foundations.
  • We’ve upgraded the fire alarm systems in the Wallace Hall building and arepreparing for the relocation of the Wee Tartan Center to this building.
  • A new home for the ceramic firing kilns is under construction close to the Middle School art room.

As you can see, much work is being done. This master campus development project is being overseen by our Director of Finance and Operations David Bush. We will continue to provide you with updates on construction activity. New traffic flow and parking policies will be sent in August.

For information about the Building on the Promise capital campaign, please contact Lara Farhadi at 949-661-0108 ext. 353, or lara.farhadi@smes.org, or visit www.smes.org.

For your personal safety and for the ongoing smooth operations of our various construction projects, please respect the construction fencing, caution tape, cones and signage when you are on campus.

We look forward to seeing you on campus soon,

Marcus D. Hurlbut

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Campaign Co-Chairs’ Letter to
St. Margaret’s Parents

Dear St. Margaret’s Parent,

Three years ago, St. Margaret’s welcomed our family with open arms, and since then, we continue to be amazed and grateful with all of the opportunities St. Margaret’s offers our children. We both believe strongly in the mission of our school and feel the need to support the school both financially and with our time by volunteering. As a result, when asked, we were honored and thrilled to be the new co-chairs of the Building on the Promise capital campaign and to be taking over the reins from a very dedicated Stacey Nicholas, who will continue to be involved as a member of the Campaign Cabinet.

This year we have made great progress raising funds for this important project. With $5 million raised since September 2009, we now have over $16.4 million toward our $30 million goal. The Board of Trustees is confident that the momentum is on our side and now is the time to move forward with planning for construction. The goal is to move ahead with the building of the Middle School and Performing Arts Center simultaneously. This will enable the fastest construction completion timeline and allow us to leverage significant cost savings.

1. The actual cost of construction is 20-25 percent lower than levels in 2008 when we originally bid the project.

2. We will realize an approximate $1 million in savings by building both buildings at the same time.

One important factor is raising additional funds to support simultaneous construction. Many families have already extended their generous support, and we are eager to broaden the base of those who believe in this important endeavor and are willing to lend a hand. During the summer and fall, we will continue to work aggressively toward this goal by reaching out to the St. Margaret’s community asking for support.

If you have any questions, or would like to arrange a meeting to discuss the campaign, please feel free to contact us or Lara Farhadi, Executive Director of Advancement, 661-0108 x353.

Let’s all join together and capture this moment of growth, finishing our campus and strengthening the educational opportunities for our children. It promises to be an exciting and fruitful experience for all of us.

With warmest regards to you and your family for a wonderful and restful summer,

Trace and Lauren Chalmers

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Exciting News: Public Campaign Launch

Dear St. Margaret’s Families,

The past week has brought some very exciting news to St. Margaret’s. Last Saturday evening at Club 30, our 30th Anniversary Gala and Spring Fundraiser, we announced significant progress toward our campus master plan and the Building on the Promise capital campaign.

Over the past eight years, we have worked diligently to refine our campus master facilities plan which includes a new Middle School and Performing Arts Center, and other important facilities and resources for our school. On Tuesday evening, the San Juan Capistrano City Council unanimously approved our master plan for campus development. This is a tremendous achievement that has been years in the making. While some formalities associated with City Ordinances remain, this approval allows us to move forward with our building plans.

In addition, we have been engaged in a multi-year, “quiet phase” fundraising campaign to acquire the funds to make this master plan a reality. To date, we have raised more than $16 million! Thanks to early support from generous lead donors combined with the funds raised at the Club 30 gala, we are well on our way to our goal of $30 million.

The campus master plan and capital campaign are critical to our mission and essential elements of our strategic plan. The Board of Trustees and school administration are 100 percent committed to this project.

On Saturday, we debuted the following film that illustrates our plans and provides a virtual look at the new buildings.

We are thrilled to launch the Building on the Promise public capital campaign. We have now reached important milestones and we are confident that we have the momentum to raise a significant portion of the remaining funds by the end of the school year paving the way for ground breaking in early fall.

To learn more, please visit the Building on the Promise website or contact Director of Advancement Lara Farhadi, 949.661.0108, ext. 318, Lara.Farhadi@smes.org.

Thank you for your continued dedication and support as we work to advance St. Margaret’s Episcopal School for the future.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

St. Margaret’s Receives Unanimous SJC City Council Approval on Campus Master Development Plan

birdseyeSt. Margaret’s Episcopal School received unanimous approval from the San Juan Capistrano City Council on Tuesday evening for its campus master development plan. Before the vote at the City Council meeting, council members praised St. Margaret’s administrators for their friendly, collaborative and responsive approach to the City’s process and for the important contributions the school makes to the San Juan community.

“We are elated. The unanimous support and praise from our City Council was more than we expected. These plans are very important to the future of our school and pave the way for us to begin construction as soon as complete funding is in place,” said St. Margaret’s Headmaster Marcus D. Hurlbut. “At the same time, we have worked very hard to ensure our plans are responsible within the larger community and that we are conscientious and contributing citizens to the City of San Juan Capistrano. The positive remarks about St. Margaret’s from the Council members mean a great deal to us.”

“We sincerely thank the Council members and the City staff for working with us throughout this process in good faith and with thoughtful consideration of our plans and for the best interest of the San Juan community,” said Mr. Hurlbut.

In order to proceed with the campus master plan which includes constructing a new Middle School and Performing Arts Center, the school needed to receive approval from various city planning commissions and ultimately from City Council. This process has spanned several years and included City required environmental and fiscal impact studies to ensure no adverse community impact from the plan. The school’s construction plans for new buildings fall within City planning guidelines, including a 35-feet height limit on all buildings, and greatly improves traffic flow around campus.

Saturday at the school’s 30th anniversary gala, St. Margaret’s publicly announced the launch of its Building on the Promise capital campaign to raise the $30 million needed to complete the campus master development plan. The school has raised $16 million toward the goal and plans to break ground on construction this fall.

To read The Orange County Register story about the City Council approval, click here: http://www.ocregister.com/news/school-237225-san-juan.html

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment