Who was Alice C. Stelle?
There is no individual who had a bigger influence on the creation and nurturing of the Las Virgenes Unified School District than Alice Condee Stelle. In the early 1960's, citizens living in the Las Virgenes area had to make an important decision: to join the newly unified Los Angeles School District or to form an independent unified school system. Alice, a member of the Las Virgenes Union Elementary Board, was one of the leaders of the group favoring independent unification and the required bond needed to build a high school.
There were many obstacles. A well organized, credible group of local citizens believed that the Los Angeles Unified School District would provide a better education for the children of Las Virgenes. The Los Angeles County Office of Education silently opposed unification. Dr. Irving Melbo, a USC professor of education, wrote a report predicting the skyrocketing property tax rates to support an independent Las Virgenes School District.
In an effort to inform the community about local education and water issues, Alice and another community visionary, Eleanor DeCartert, started a newspaper. The leaders of the pro-unification committee, Alice, Jody White, Steve Herthel and Bobbie Thorne, campaigned vigorously for an independent unified school district. On Election Day, January 1963, the bond needed to build a new high school failed by four votes. The next day, this tireless group went back to work on a new campaign. In April of the same year, a record number of voters turned out, this time favoring the bond by four votes! The Las Virgenes Unified School District became a reality because of the vision and determination of theses early leaders.
Alice was appointed to the newly formed Las Virgenes Unified School District Board of Education, and was elected to four additional terms. The young district quickly earned a reputation for excellence and innovation. For example, it was among the first districts to replace the junior high with the more child-centered middle school. This concept has now gained wide acceptance as the preferred norm throughout the United States. It was also the first district to install air conditioning in its schools; Alice insisted students couldn't learn well in the heat. Alice was a highly respected board member who served in leadership positions in the country and state school board associations.
Alice's contributions to the community extend beyond her service to the School District. Besides raising five children of their own, she and her husband, Mac, were foster parents to many teenagers. A member of the Foster Parent Association, she negotiated with the county on behalf of foster parents. Alice served as a court appointed child advocate for ten years. She was an active leader in community groups such as the Conejo/Las Virgenes Futures Foundation, the Calabasas Historical Society, and the Assistance League of the San Fernando Valley. Because of her long years of service to the school district and the community, Las Virgenes Board of Education voted to name its new middle school for Alice Condee Stelle. For years to come, Alice's life's legacy will teach our young people the importance of integrity, persistence, and civic involvement.
In the 1990s, the population of AE Wright Middle School had exceeded the capacity of the school - many classes had to be held in temporary buildings. The district recognized the need to build a third middle school on the east side of the district. The School Board placed Measure R to repair, renovate, and rebuild facilities in our district on the 1997 ballot. This measure, if passed, would approve property tax payments to fund the construction. The measure passed with 79% approval rating and the planning of Middle School #3 began in late 1999.
After considerable research and public input, the Hellmond site at Mulholland Hwy and Paul Revere Drive in Calabasas was chosen for building Middle School #3. The property was acquired in 2001 through emminent domain and the grading began in spring 2001. The property was officially purchased for $3.25 million in 2002 after being tied up in court for many months. Construction bids were solicited in early 2002, a contract was awarded, and the $15 million construction began in earnest.
In May 2002 the LVUSD School board appointed Mary Sistrunk as the principal of Middle School #3. She oversaw more than 18 months of construction and chose the staffing for the new school. Her attention to detail assured that there would be a successful and enthusiastic kickoff. In October 2002, the School Board named Middle School #3 after one of the LVUSD founders, Alice C. Stelle.
In 2002, the City of Calabasas began discussions for a joint use of the school site for after-school activities. The financial support of the city helped ensure that the school was completed as quickly as possible. By fall of 2003, a joint use agreement was in place. In addition, many founding families contributed generously through sponsorships to help speed the school's opening.
The students and teachers began the 2003-2004 school year using classroom space at AE Wright Middle School. The AC Stelle construction was completed in time for a January 5, 2004 opening. All AC Stelle students and staff moved to the new campus after Winter Break. Alice C. Stelle Middle School was dedicated in a well-attended ceremony on March 19, 2004.
Mrs. Mary Sistrunk, founding principal, 2003-2013 (retired in June 2013).
Dr. Michael Williams was principal from 2013 - 2015
Mr. Ryan Emery was principal from 2015 - 2018.
Current Principal: Ms. Susana Baird, 2018 - present
Awards & Recognition
2021 A. C. Stelle received the 2021 Distinguished School Award from the California Department of Education. This award honors some of California's most exemplary and inspiring public schools. Schools selected for the Distinguished School Award demonstrate significant gains in narrowing the achievement gap.
2015 A. C. Stelle received the 2015 California Gold Ribbon School Award from the California Department of Education. This is a program which honors some of California's outstanding public schools. Schools that are selected demonstrate exemplary achievements in implementing state standards in priority areas.
2013 A. C. Stelle received the 2013 California Distinguished School Award from the California Department of Education. The award honors the state's most exemplary and inspiring public schools. Schools selected for Distinguished School Awards are strong, well-rounded community schools.
2010 A. C. Stelle was named a California Business for Education Excellence (CBEE)/ Just for the Kids-California Honor Roll School for 2010. Using academic achievement data, CBEE identifies and honors the highest performing schools in California.
2009 A. C. Stelle was named a California Business for Education Excellence (CBEE)/ Just for the Kids-California Honor Roll School for 2009. Using academic achievement data, CBEE identifies and honors the highest performing schools in California.
2009 A. C. Stelle received the 2009 California Distinguished School Award from the California Department of Education. The award honors the state's most exemplary and inspiring public schools. Schools selected for Distinguished School Awards are strong, well-rounded community schools.
2008 A. C. Stelle was named a California Business for Education Excellence (CBEE)/ Just for the Kids-California Honor Roll School for 2008. Using academic achievement data, CBEE identifies and honors the highest performing schools in California.
2008 A. C. Stelle Middle School's English/Language Arts department was selected and highlighted on the State Department of Education's Taking Center Stage, Act II website as a spotlight school implementing best practices.
2008 A. C. Stelle's Physical Education department was awarded the Outstanding State Middle School Program of the Year and the Southern District Program of the Year by the California Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation, & Dance (CAHPERD).