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An all-girls middle and high school in Thousand Oaks is a big step closer to being saved from closure

A new site in Moorpark for La Reina Academy is in escrow
Caroline Feraday
/
KCLU
A new site in Moorpark for La Reina Academy is in escrow

Parents and supporters have entered escrow on a new location for La Reina School.

Laird Wilson is showing people around the swimming pool and outside communal areas of this former school in Moorpark. He is the former Director of Facilities and Operations for La Reina school in Thousand Oaks, and a former parent - and one of hundreds who were left reeling when the top ranked Catholic all girls school announced a surprise closure earlier this year.

"When we knew we weren't going to get back on campus, we went out and looked for other options and they were very limited. This one happen to still be available and it's been unoccupied for almost eight years," explained Wilson.

Students had little time to figure out what to do for the next school year, but Wilson says this is the solution.

The site was previously the home of Pinecrest School for toddlers up to grade five. And there are signs of that everywhere, from the outdoor play equipment to discarded books and even desks.

"We'll take out most of the play equipment here," explained Wilson.

The building is in escrow and will become the new home to La Reina Academy.

"We were one of four groups that were interested in the purchase of it, and we, as the Save La Reina group, jumped into it," said Wilson.

"The property price is $7 million. So then we've looked at all our financial options, and we have a couple of them that we feel very confident that we'll be able to close this out. We're currently in our 30 day due diligence program where we're taking a look at the property, seeing what things need to be done here to make sure there's nothing unseen that presents a huge problem for us down the line," he said.

Wilson, who is a member of the board alongside former teachers and even a former principal from the school, is confident that despite the amount of work that needs to be done, they'll be ready for students in August.

"Everything will be cleaned up, painted new ceiling tiles put in, and then we'll bring in all the furniture and everything to set up all the classrooms. Bring over the technology as well," he said.

One of those students is here taking a look with her mom, Fiorella Silverstein.

"I was a little scared about the school closings, but I trust the staff and the people in charge in this, so I'm going to give it a try. Some of her friends are coming here too. She's happy about it. So whatever she wants, to feel comfortable and familiar," said Silverstein.

The school has a passionate alumni and community. Dorothy Sinclair explains why she funded a scholarship to La Reina, which enabled girls to attend.

"My daughter went to La Reina all through high school and when she was a senior, she was killed in an automobile accident. We created a memorial scholarship in her name. So I've been connected with La Reina ever since the 1980s," she said.

"It's just a beautiful school. And the young ladies that it turns out, are just incredible young women. And I think the fact that 100% of every graduating class has gone on to college, that certainly says something for a wonderful school it is," said Sinclair.

"Wilson says the most important factor in enrollment won't be the building, but something out of his control - friendships - and whether the girls' friends are also going to make the move.

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 10 Golden Mike Awards, 5 Los Angeles Press Club Awards, 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Writing.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for eleven years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.