School and District Programs

Our School – Santiago Elementary

Since opening in 1973, Santiago Elementary has served students for more than 40 years. We are a unique school because of our beautiful location in the heart of Lake Forest. When visiting our school, you’ll quickly notice that our campus is covered with eucalyptus trees that help to make our school a warm and inviting place to be.  Santiago is viewed as the core of the neighborhood and represents more than just a local elementary school. Students from all walks of life make up and add to the richness and diversity of the Santiago Elementary School population.

Music Program – SVUSD’s instrumental music program teaches 4th grade students to play the recorder.  Students in 5th and 6th grades will be allowed to learn an instrument such as Intermediate Strings, Advanced Strings, Beginning Flute, Clarinet, Alto & Tenor Saxophone, Trumpet, Trombone, and Baritone.  Sixth Grade Band and Advanced Strings will be able to perform in an all-district concert.

Field Trips – Field trips within the city and to other nearby points of interest are scheduled by classroom teachers throughout the school year. These trips are designed to supplement different aspects of the classroom curriculum and to introduce students to the resources of the community.  This year, all grades will visit a college campus and receive a college t-shirt. Kindergarten will visit El Toro High School. First Grade will visit Saddleback College. Second Grade will visit Irvine Valley College. Third Grade will visit CSULB. Fourth Grade with visit CSFullerton. Fifth Grade will visit UCIrvine. Sixth Grade will visit Chapman University.

Student Council –  Students in sixth grade are given an opportunity to participate in decisions affecting the student body at Santiago School and to receive first hand knowledge of the democratic process. The student council sponsors special school spirit dress-up days and other campus improvement projects.

Red Ribbon Week – A full week of programs to encourage children to stay away from drugs and adopt healthy lifestyle choices. This special week is planned by the Student Council.

6th Grade Science Camp – This year our Santiago Eagles attended High Trails Outdoor Science School in mid December.  Students learn a variety of topics over a 4 day program, such as archery, orienteering, plant life, and environmental awareness.

Robotics – Teachers and staff are working on a plan for robots and programming concepts to be used at all grades levels.  Last year, first graders were using the “Blue Dots”, and sixth graders were using the “Dash and Dot” and the “Sphero”.

Kindergarten Performances – Our Kindergarten students spend time learning songs to sing for family and friends, and perform a short program each trimester.

Walk Through the Revolution – Students in the fifth grade attend this fun and interactive presentation about the American Revolution as part of their history studies.

Monthly Assemblies – Monthly assemblies held in the quad recognize students for academic achievements, as well as citizenship. Each trimester, students are recognized for their academic success as well as for their citizenship and effort in school. Parents are invited to attend these assemblies and celebrate in their child’s success. Trimester Awards Assemblies will be held shortly after the end of each grading. Students in grades 2-6 are eligible for Honor Roll. Honor Roll recognizes academic excellence. Students must earn A’s and/or B’s and no N’s or U’s in citizenship. Students who receive “Outstanding” marks in the areas of citizenship and effort receive an award for achieving Double O’s.

College Wear Tuesdays / Spirit Wear Fridays – Students are encouraged to wear college and university wear on Tuesdays to learn about various college opportunities and remind each other of their goals for higher learning.   On Fridays, students are encouraged to wear their Santiago Spirit wear and school colors.

Little Buddy/Big Buddy Classes – Some primary classes have been adopted this year by an upper grade classroom. Students participate in many activities with their buddy class throughout the school year. Activities include reading, art projects, creative writing assignments, cooking activities, classroom parties, and cross-age tutoring.

Computer/Technology –  Computer/technology education is provided to all students via a distributed network of classroom computers, IPADs, the computer lab, and portable notebook computers with access to the Internet.  Classroom projectors allow teachers to present online material to the entire class.  A distributed video broadcasting system is also provided to each classroom as well as the library.

The Learning HUB – The Library Clerk provides weekly visits to the library for all students. Students are welcome to check out books of interest and conduct research during their time in the library.  This year our library and computer lab have merged into one large collaboration space, where students can pursue group projects using both books and technology.

English Language Programs – We have an active English Language Advisory Committee (ELAC) that is committed to supporting our English Learners and their families. Santiago Elementary has worked with to develop a Communication App to have two-way communication with families in multiple languages.

Benchmark Advance Language Program – California has called for all districts to transition to the new ways of teaching Language Arts, and SVUSD is transitioning this year on all campuses with the new Benchmark Advance Curriculum.

California Distinguished School – Santiago received this award in 2012.  This is an award given by the California State Board of Education to public schools within the state that best represent exemplary and quality educational programs. Approximately five percent of California schools are awarded this honor each year following a selection process. The program was established in 1985 and alternates each year between elementary (even years) and secondary (odd years) schools. The schools are recognized as distinguished for four years, and after that the recognition may be renewed. The program is currently on hiatus while California transitions to new assessment and accountability systems.

Second Step



District Community Services Programs

The Learning Connection (TLC) is a positive alternative for working parents in need of childcare. TLC centers are open from 7:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. at all elementary school sites in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District. For information about this program, please call (949) 768-0981.

Kids Factory – A drop-in program sponsored by the City of Lake Forest provides after-school supervision and recreational activities.

SVUSD Afterschool programs – Our School District’s Community Services Department coordinates with a variety of youth sports and educational programs that utilize the fields and facilities of local schools.   Classes that take place on our Santiago campus include a coding class and academic chess.

Two-Way Immersion Co-op Preschool
SVUSD operates a two-way immersion preschool at Santiago Elementary for children over 3 years and 6 months of age.   Younger children attend Tues/Thurs.  Older children over 4 attend Mon/Wed/Fri.  Registration for this program occurs in late February.  Tuition is $250/$300 per month for the 2/3 day program.