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100 years of family

Private school celebrates centennial with Thursday’s eighth-grade graduation.

June 17, 2008|By Daniel Tedford

When Kristin Dickson walks outside onto the black top at Page Private School in Costa Mesa, children like Amelia Kimberlin know her by name, calling out “Mrs. Dickson.” And despite being the senior director for the school, and three others in California, Dickson knows all the children’s names, as well.

“Parents like to have somebody in administration they can always talk to,” Dickson said.

Dickson didn’t plan to work at Page. Part of the Vaughan family that has run Page schools for four generations, she initially went to school to study journalism. After she got her master’s from USC, she came back to Page and fell in love with the work.

“I thought I was going to do something else, but I couldn’t leave,” Dickson said. “I am really proud of being a part of the family.”

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The family celebrated one of its biggest achievements this year when Page schools turned 100 and that accomplishment will be recognized at the schools’ commencement ceremonies at 2 p.m. Thursday.

“It’s older than my great-grandpa,” Normandie Hatfield, 9, said.

Page Private Schools started as one military school in 1908 by Robert and Della Page Gibbs who ran the school out of a house in Los Angeles. Their daughter Edith, who attended Page, married Earle Russell Vaughan, also an alumnus, and the two took over the school in the 1930s. It was their children who eventually created a Page Private School in Costa Mesa some 40 years ago.

“[Page] has a lot of family traditions and I think we bring that to our families,” Dickson said.

The learning environment at the Costa Mesa school is active and individualized, but remains flexible.

If a student is performing above his or her grade level ability in reading or math, school staffers will allow the student to sit in on an upper grade to continue development. Spanish is a requirement at Page and no class has more than 20 students.

“It has a big playground, awesome teachers and a good education,” said 10-year-old Amelia. “It helps me read a lot better.”

Amelia said one of her favorite characteristics of Page is how her teachers are her friends.

“We have a lot of fun here,” Dickson said. “I think learning should be fun.”

The school is celebrating its commencement and 100 years with a spirit week, which includes a talent show. At the graduation, 14 eighth-graders will move on to high school and each student at the school will be called up to receive an award.

Continuing its tradition of pushing forward, the school recently acquired a plot of land next to the school and plans to build a sports field to add another attractive element to the campus.

ABOUT PAGE PRIVATE SCHOOLS

 Non-denomination private schools that teach preschool through eighth grade

 Founded in 1908 in Los Angeles

 Founded in Orange County in the 1970s

 Has four schools in California and two in Florida

 Population at the Costa Mesa school is about 200 students

 Run by the fourth generation of Vaughan family members


DANIEL TEDFORD may be reached at (714) 966-4632 or at daniel.tedford@latimes.com.

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