By Anthony Saude
Chino – Magnolia Junior High of Chino celebrated its Golden Anniversary on April 13 with food, games, a presentation and special performances.
The school first opened in September of 1967 with more than 350 students enrolled. Walnut Avenue Elementary was also new and was bursting at the seams. It was decided that one of its fifth grade classes would transfer to Magnolia.
Nine years later construction was completed and in the same year, the school was rededicated.
Ramona Elementary vice Principal Victor Paulson, was named the school’s first principal and served loyally until he was promoted to Chino High principal. Then Dick Meyer who came from Arizona was named the new principal at Magnolia.
Klaas Weis, the wife of a dairy man and a mother, was the first ever parent-teacher organization president.
The celebration was rich with quality speakers which included current Magnolia principal Matt McCain and former principal John Miller, now the principal at Chino High.
Chino city councilman Gary George, retired physical education teacher Bob Dyer, and Bruce Warner, a teacher of Magnolia from the day the school opened until his retirement also spoke.
The school’s alumni band prepared a special musical performance just for the event.
Sean Jenkins, the school’s band instructor of 26 years, put together a community band comprised of former Magnolia students.
Most of the 40 band members were students of Chino High School, older alumni and a few advanced band students at the school also joined in.
Mr. Jenkins, is also an associate director of the USC school marching band, he said the band culture at Magnolia was set by, Perry Hal his predecessor as the school’s band director from 1992-2002. Mr. Hall’s position at Magnolia was filled by Mr. Jenkins when Hall left to teach at the high school. There are 113 students in the band and color guard program today at Magnolia, this includes the advanced band members.
“Feedback from competition judges is that our students play better than many high schools,” Mr. Jenkins said.
Gaylen Roe, has spent all of her 28 years as a teacher at the school in the same classroom, said students there benefit from the collaborative teaching environment that has been created at the school.
Mrs. Roe will be retiring in June. She teaches an elective life skills class, that some of the older people used to know as home economics. Magnolia’s culinary arts program feeds into the culinary and hospitality academy offered at Chino High.
Magnolia currently has 659 students of which 73 percent are from low-income households.
Parent volunteer Elena Gomez-Lecaro said the school is connected by family generations and supportive community members.
The general feeling of the residents is that Magnolia is one of the best junior high schools in the community.