School History

In the early 1960’s, people were moving to a new area of California where orange groves and vegetable fields abounded. The Diocese of Los Angeles, concerned about serving the Catholics in this area, initiated a campaign to build parishes and schools in what is now known as Orange County.


The original parishioners of St. Barbara Church attended Sunday Mass in the Garden Grove Elks Lodge. With a dream of establishing their parish, these early parishioners built a church and school where once tomato fields stood. They donated their time, talent, and treasure to construct a school that would provide a Catholic education for their children and a church where they would celebrate liturgies and receive sacraments. Little did they know that decades later St. Barbara would serve a thriving metropolitan area of Orange County with a parish of over 4,000 families and a school of over 500 students.


St. Barbara School was opened in 1963 under Msgr. Michael Collins, and originally directed by the religious order of the Poor Clare Missionary Sisters and five lay teachers. The school consisted of one building with eight classrooms. In September 1965 the building originally used as the Church became available to accommodate a second classroom of each level. A parish hall/gym was built in 1967 with an annex added in 1977. In the late 1980’s improvements were made to the playground along with the addition of a computer lab, faculty lounge and library expansion.


During the 1990’s, St. Barbara Parish was blessed with an influx of Catholic Vietnamese in this area. Because of this influx, there was a need to address the expansion of religious education programs, and accomodate the growth of the congregation along with increased student enrollment in the parish school. A 3-year capital campaign in conjunction with the Pastoral Services Appeal led to securing sufficient funds for expansion and improvement of the facilities. The $2.1 million facility improvements included the parking lot and school playground/field. A new school building housing two kindergartens, a multimedia center, a fine arts classroom, a teacher workroom, and a physical education/athletics room was completed by the summer of 2002.


Currently, St. Barbara School has a dedicated staff of a principal,  twenty-one lay teachers, three teacher’s aides, and five office staff. The combined efforts of the faculty and staff, clergy, parent volunteers, and parishioners have enabled St. Barbara School to be a model of educational excellence in the Diocese of Orange.


St. Barbara School gratefully acknowledges the generosity of those who made our school a reality. The founding parishioners built a Catholic community which has evolved into the St. Barbara Parish family. Today, this same spirit of community continues at St. Barbara School.


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