Over 50 years ago, the Rev. Sam D’Amico, starting out small with a few children, founded St. James School. Today, with over 360 students on a state-of-the-art campus right next door to our church, St. James has blossomed into one of the most highly-respected elementary institutions in Los Angeles. What a joy to partner with amazing Head of School Peter Reinke and all the ‘staffulty’ (Get it? Staff and faculty) at St. James School!
I want you to know more about our extraordinary friends on the other side of the parking lot. For instance….
1. The Rev. Canon Aidan Koh
As chaplain of St James School, Fr. Koh constantly expands his unique network of goodness benefiting school and church alike, cementing our connectedness through worship services, fundraising, and community outreach. After 25 years, he is to so many people a beloved symbol of St. James.
2. Head of School Peter Reinke
Peter Reinke is a dedicated, lifelong Episcopal churchman, former senior warden, and son and grandson of clergy. He reads and preaches at church services, and constantly encourages St James School students to ‘give back’ through our food ministries. We are blessed by how deeply he cares about the well-being of St. James Church.
3. Social Justice and Outreach at St. James School
These initiatives are phenomenal. More than most PreK-6 institutions, St James School dedicates itself to serving our vulnerable neighbors. For 5th and 6th graders, Religion classes include volunteering in the food pantry and soup kitchen. Children at every grade level support the food ministries in some way, from putting together hygiene kits to writing messages of support. Recently St James School students collected over 2000 pairs of socks for the homeless, and run constant food and water drives. In addition, they raised $5000 in cash gifts for St James food ministries last year. This past Spring, in lieu of a class gift, graduating 6th graders and their families donated non-perishable food items to the food pantry on a massive scale. St James School’s after school program, Beyond School, includes a ‘Caring Club’ in which members write notes to St James’ members who are sick or confined to home during the pandemic.
4. Beautiful Music
Beautiful Music comes to us through the St James School Children’s Choir, who sang for us one Sunday a month (and will again, post-pandemic). Looking professional in their red robes, and led by the talented Jim Casey, these students lend a beautiful, youthful spirit to worship at St James. And at weekly All School Chapel services, the students, teacher and parents of St James fill the church space with thought-provoking preaching, spirited music, and reverent worship. Some of you may not realize that ‘church’ happens in this powerful way during the week, as well as on weekends.
5. Financial Generosity
Financial Generosity to a remarkable degree. A little over a year ago, a school family made a truly stunning, seven-figure anonymous gift to St James Church – a house! Specifically, a house to serve as a home for elderly, housing insecure Korean men and women to stay. A real home. We thank the school for helping to make possible this profound gift to our Korean ministry at St. James.
I could sing the praises of St James School all day, detailing the many ways they reach out, beyond those just listed, including sharing security costs, providing extermination and pond care services, allowing me to teach 5th grade religion (such fun!!), and inviting us to worship on St James School Field during the pandemic.
Every day I give thanks for Peter Reinke and all the good people of St James School – especially the dynamic students so ready to serve others. And I look forward to discovering more and more ways that we can partner and help each other thrive.
In the meantime, I hope you will join me in giving thanks for our generous partners at St James School!
Visit St. James School online, for much more about their stories, programs, and the wonderful people in our school community.