The History of Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District
The Placentia School District dates back to 1874. A one-room schoolhouse was established by pioneers who – with bravery, hard work and dreams – paved the way for our present-day award-winning education system. All of this was brought about by the untiring efforts of educationally minded settlers who were visionaries, and who truly valued education. The district wishes to express its gratitude to all those who vividly remembered details and recorded stories and events. We realize that this material is not complete, and this is only the continuation of a long-standing tradition. The Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District (PYLUSD) is "Where the Future Happens." The completion of this rich history is left to those who come after us.
Here is our story ...
A land grant of 13,328 acres – part of which is present-day Yorba Linda – was given to Bernardo Yorba by the Spanish government. He called it "Rancho Cañón de Santa Ana." After his death in 1858, the land was divided between his wife and children. Some of the land was sold and eventually named Yorba Linda – "Yorba" being the last name of its original owner, and "Linda," which means "beautiful" in Spanish.
Gold Rush brought many people California.
California admitted to the Union.
Twelve families settled along the Anaheim ditch. The community developed as its population became more established. Mr. William McFadden settled in the Placentia area. He was a teacher at the Santa Ana School, and a county superintendent of the Los Angeles County Schools from 1869 to 1873. Mr. McFadden helped form the El Cajon School District, and had a one-room schoolhouse erected at his own expense. It was a plain building with two doors, both on one side, and a window on either end. Students sat on crude wooden benches. The El Cajon School opened with two teachers: Ms. Minnie Walker and Mr. F.K. McDowell. Students: Felipe Yorba, Adeline and Felipa Yorba, Prudencio Yorba, several Peraltas, Taylor Bush, and his sisters. Trustees: William Shanklin, R.H. Gilman and William McFadden. Mr. McFadden also served as assessor and collector when a $500 tax was levied by vote on Dec. 26, 1874, for building and school purposes. The cost of the school, including labor, was $401.54. The school was on the Santa Ana River near the Yorba Bridge.
The El Cajon School was moved with horses and wagons to the northeast corner of Placentia and Chapman avenues.
Placentia School District formed. The district included the northern half of the El Cajon School District, in addition to annexed sections from the districts of Anaheim and Fullerton.
An annual report reported 41 census children. Enrollment: 26 children. Average daily attendance: 14.
The inadequacy of the one-room schoolhouse became apparent, and a two-room schoolhouse was constructed on the southeast corner of Placentia and Chapman avenues. The old building was abandoned, but stood in place until 1940. One could almost imagine that it stood proudly as if it knew of the importance it claimed in opening the path to education in the community.
The two-room schoolhouse was replaced with a two-story school building with the help of George Key. The lower floor was divided into two rooms, and the upper story was used as an auditorium. Many community dances were held in this auditorium. Its name was changed to Placentia Grammar School.
Orange County withdrew from Los Angeles County. There were 33 school districts in Orange County at the time, 23 of which had less than 100 students enrolled.
Yorba Linda laid out as a town site.
Yorba Linda School District formed with 3,500 acres within its boundaries. A one-room schoolhouse welcomed students who formerly attended neighboring Olinda School. Two teachers: Miss Amanda Longenecker and Miss Olive Talbert.
First Yorba Linda School District PTA organized. Membership: 14.
Two new school districts – Richfield School District and Commonwealth School District – both formed.
Richfield School District joins Placentia School District, and changes its name to Placentia Union School District.
First Placentia Union School District PTA organized by Mrs. Nellie Cline. Other PTAs soon organized. Annual dues: 50 cents.
Commonwealth School District joins Placentia Union School District.
City of Placentia incorporated. Population: 1,300. Acres: 640.
Placentia Union School District petitions to withdraw from the Fullerton Union High School District to become the Placentia High School District. On July 8, Placentia residents appeared before the state Board of Education with a petition signed by 860 people. Valencia High School opens using Bradford School rooms.
Placentia Unified School District formed on July 1 as a result of legislation allowing unification and the addition of a high school.
With the onset of World War II, enrollment dropped as residents moved to areas with defense plants.
Enrollment increased after the end of World War II.
Placentia Unified School District and Yorba Linda School District merge to become the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District.
1854 Upper Santa Ana School. Later called Peralta. Sometimes called Yorba.
School eventually abandoned because lack of pupils.
Became the Yorba School District in 1869.
William McFadden taught in the old Yorba School.
Students included Mary Scully, Prudencio Yorba, Ernest Yorba, Mary (Kraemer) Miller, Phoebe Fairbanks, Pauline (Wright) Ames, Lulu (Wright) Brewer, Dave Wright, Samuel Kraemer, Mary (Wright) Key and Carrie (McFadden) Ford—daughter of William McFadden.
1874 Cajon School
Built as a one-room school house
Located on the south side of the Santa Ana River near the Yorba Bridge
Many times the river was at flood stage and the pupils had to pull each other across the current by means of ropes tied about their waists. Several times small groups came down from the hills to the houses begging for food, which was always given.
An election was held in 1883 for $3,000 in bonds at 8 percent. All votes were aye.
In 1876 the school was moved with horses and wagons to the northeast corner of Placentia and Chapman and the name was changed to Placentia School.
In 1884, the one-room school house was replaced by a two-room school house
1884 Placentia School
2nd story added in 1898
By 1904, the school had 90 students
3 teachers: Mr. Smith principal / teacher taught seventh, eighth and ninth grades; Miss Stella Stanley taught the intermediate grades and Miss Cora Evans taught the primary department. Most schools included the ninth grades because there were few high schools and the majority of the pupils did not go beyond elementary school.
In 1913, this school was replaced by a school building with eight rooms on Bradford Avenue which was named Bradford School.
1911 Yorba Linda School
Opened as a temporary building on September 18, 1911.
Location: Little knoll on the east side of Olinda Street just north of what is now Imperial Highway
Four students who walked three miles originally were attending Olinda School. More students moved into the area justifying the establishment of a school.
At a public meeting at Conley’s hay barn (later known as Casa Loma) community members gathered to discuss providing a building for school purposes. As a result of this meeting, $248.50 were pledged for the purpose of constructing a permanent school. In 1911, a bond issue passed for $8,000 for the construction of a permanent school building. Mrs. Mabel M. Paine was hired as the first principal. The permanent school building was completed in 1926. In 1926, a tax election of $8,400 provided school equipment. In 1940, bonds passed for the rehabilitation of the school.
School demolished in 1954 and re-built as Richard Nixon School.
1912 Bradford School
Location: Bradford Avenue
This school replaced the school building on Placentia and Chapman Avenues.
The eight-room school building, built with a $44,000 bond issue passed in 1911, had an auditorium with balcony that could accommodate 600 people.
In close succession, the following buildings were added to these two main buildings: a wing on the arts building to house kindergarten, music room, administration building and a domestic science building. The administration building was first divided into two lunch rooms with two large fireplaces and later made into a home for Superintendent Riddlebarger.
Fire in 1929
Second larger fire in 1934
Re-built in 1935
Up to this time, Placentia students who wanted further training attended Fullerton High School. However, a strong desire for a separate high school became evident the morning of July 8, 1933 when Placentia residents appeared before the State Board of Education with a petition to establish Valencia High School. The first graduating class consisted of one student, Roy Tillery who on May 2, 1934, played all four parts in a one-act play called “The Mortgage on the Farm.” The first commencement took place on June 12 with Vierling Kersey, State Superintendent of Instruction, delivering the address for the occasion.
1914 Richfield School District formed in 1914
One-room bungalow school at Richfield and Orangethorpe
Accommodated lower grades; Upper grades attended Bradford School
Second cottage added in 1919
Joined Placentia School District in 1915
60 pupils by 1918
1919 second cottage added
1939 school condemned due to damage.
School closed in 1940. Sold in 1957.
Students transferred to La Jolla School
1925 Baker Street School
Two bungalow school with first and pre-first grades (kindergarten did not exist)
35 pupils – Attended school in double sessions, meaning morning and afternoon
1932 earthquake damaged school.
Moved in 1930s to west Santa Fe Avenue and re-named Chapman Hill School.
Closed in 1950 and sold in 1951
1927 La Jolla School
Location: Blue Gum (now called Melrose)
Single bungalow school
Opens with 40 pupils
Oil lamps set on wall fixtures to furnish light.
When Richfield School was condemned, 100 students from that school were transferred to the La Jolla School raising enrollment to 360 pupils
Served as intermediate from 1938 to 1958
Originally included seventh to tenth grades
Due to declining enrollment, grades changed to seventh through eighth grade
Name changed to McFadden Elementary in 1958
Closed in 1977 due to declining enrollment
1933 Valencia High School
Opens using Bradford School rooms
Students formerly attended Fullerton High School
1934 – First graduating class of one
The first graduating class consisted of one student, Roy Tillery who on May 2, 1934, played all four parts in a one-act play called “The Mortgage on the Farm.” The first commencement took place on June 12 with Vierling Kersey, State Superintendent of Instruction, delivering the address for the occasion.
1954 Richard Nixon School opens at the former site of Yorba Linda School
Sold in 1984 because of a surplus of classrooms across the Yorba Linda district
1959 Kraemer Intermediate opens
1960 Ruby Drive Elementary opens
1962 Mabel Paine School opens
Wagner Elementary School opens
1964 Morse Elementary School opens
Rose Drive Elementary School opens
Sierra Vista Elementary School opens
Van Buren Elementary School opens
Yorba Linda Middle School opens
1965 Orchard Elementary School opens
Closed and is now the West Campus of Esperanza High School.
Rio Vista Elementary opens
1966 Golden Elementary School opens
El Dorado High School opens
1968 Brookhaven Elementary School opens
Glenknoll Elementary School opens
Tuffree Junior High School opens
1970 Bernardo Yorba Junior High School opens
1972 Fairmont Elementary School opens
George Key School opens
Glenview Elementary School opens
Topaz Elementary School opens
1974 Esperanza High School opens
1975 Linda Vista School opens
1976 El Camino Real Continuation High School opens
1977 John O. Tynes Elementary School opens
Woodsboro Elementary School opens
1988 Travis Ranch School opens
1991 Bryant Ranch School opens
2001 Parkview School opens as Home School
2004 Melrose Elementary School opens
Opens on the site of the former La Jolla school
School alleviates overcrowding at Rio Vista and Tynes
2005 Lakeview Elementary School opens
Nestled in the growing new residential home community of Vista del Verde
2008 Valadez Middle School Academy opens
Adjacent to Melrose Elementary School
2009 Yorba Linda High School opens
First high school in the City of Yorba Linda
Opens with freshmen and sophomores
One class is added each year
• “The History of Placentia Schools 1874-1940” by the senior English classes of Valencia High School.
• 100 Years of Public Education in Orange County by Merton E. Hill
• Early Placentia – It’s Background and Settlers, Development, Schools and Memories by George G. Key
• Placentia Schools Historical Outline - Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District records
• Placentia Library Historical Room, Pat Irot, resident
NOTE: With the opening of Wagner Elementary School, newcomers, experienced difficulty locating Wagner School, located on Yorba Linda Blvd. The School Board established a policy at that time to name all elementary schools for their street location; middle schools were to be named for persons of local historical interest and high schools’ names would derive from the area’s Spanish/Mexican heritage.
BROOKHAVEN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Brookhaven School is named for the street on which it is located, consistent with the school district policy.
It was built with an open-space interior to accommodate large and small group flexible groupings. It was considered a California State University, Fullerton laboratory school. The administration and teaching staff worked closely with the university staff incorporating the latest educational trends.
BRYANT RANCH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Bryant Ranch School is named for the ranch that existed there in the early days. In 1875, John Bixby, of Long Beach, purchased 6,000 acres from the widow of Don Bernardo Yorba, the original grant owner.
His daughter, Susanna Bixby, took a great interest in the cattle ranch and built a 2300 square foot ranch house on the property which she later turned over to her ranch foreman. She began a botanical garden of native plants. After her death in 1946, her grandson took charge of the ranch; the garden of native plants was moved to Claremont College. Her home is owned at this time by the City of Yorba Linda and is maintained by the Yorba Linda Historical Society as a museum. The home is listed in the National Registry of Historic Places and the California Registry, as well.
FAIRMONT ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Fairmont School derives its name for the street on which it is located. It occupies part of the large Mexican Land Grant awarded to Don Bernardo Yorba. He built a very large adobe home for his family and where he entertained friends and family at fiestas lasting a number of days. He was married three times and had 21 children. He operated four cattle ranches each with a different brand. Quite a number of Yorba descendants still live in the area. On the northeast side of Esperanza Road near Echo Hill, there is a California monument erected in his memory.
GEORGE KEY SCHOOL
George Gilman Key, the namesake of this special school, and a man of exceptional character, attended the school’s dedication. George, the son of George B. Key, was born in Placentia in 1896. He married Harriet Ipsen and had two children. He began work in the local oil fields; for a time he worked for the local schools. In 1945, he bought out the other heirs’ shares of the family ranch and took up residence in the large family dwelling. As other ranchers were selling land to developers, Key bought their pieces of ranch equipment which resulted in a unique collection. In 1983, Orange County bought the Key house and the two remaining acres along with the collection as a county park and museum. Open for visitors during limited hours weekly, the property, located on Bastanchury Road west of Placentia Avenue, is listed on both the National Registry of Historic Places and on the California Registry of Historic Places.
GLENKNOLL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Glenknoll School is named for the street on which it is located, consistent with school district policy. It was built to serve the needs of students in Kindergarten through grade 6.
The land on which it is built was from a Spanish land grant, and later Mexican grant, awarded to Don Bernardo Yorba. A historical plaque is placed in his honor on the northeast side of Esperanza Road at Echo Hill.
GLENVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Glenview is named for the street on which it is located. It opened in 1972 to serve an attendance area in partner with Orchard School as a way to eliminate de facto segregation. Glenview enrolled children in grades Kindergarten through Grade 3; the children attended Orchard Elementary (currently a part of the Esperanza campus) for grades 4 through 6. Bilingual classes were offered at every grade level with English taught to Spanish speakers and Spanish taught to English speakers.
Originally, the land was part of the Don Bernardo Yorba Mexican Land Grant. Prior to the acquisition of the property by the school district, the current owner grew rows and rows of corn as a cash crop.
GOLDEN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Consistent with school district policy, Golden School is named for the street on which is it located. Actually, Golden Avenue was named by Orange County before Placentia extended that far from the center of town. Folks who lived near the Water Tower would take Sunday drives to “Golden Drive” to enjoy the fragrance of the orange blossoms and later in the season to see the bower of oranges through which they could drive. The school was built on a ranch owned by a rancher named Piepenbrink. To the west, the neighboring ranch was owned by George Koch (pronounced Cook) who was for many years Placentia’s Fire Chief. Today’s Kindergarten playground is located the land once owned by Mr. Russell. He had ten acres of oranges and established a miniature zoo, featuring cages of local wild animals for customers to see. Even after the school was built, beautiful peacocks could be seen and heard in the area, often taking their own time to get out of the way of the cars.
In the 1960s, the school district had its office facilities, temporarily, at the east end of the campus.
LINDA VISTA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Linda Vista School is named for the street on which it is located. Originally a part of the Yorba Linda School District, it was built to serve grades Kindergarten through Grade 5.
LAKEVIEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Consistent with school district policy, Lakeview School is named for the street on which it is located.
MABEL PAINE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
When Yorba Linda School District began September 1911, Amanda Longenecker and Olive Talbert were hired to teach of all eight grades. The school was housed in a temporary building located on the east side of Olinda Street north of Imperial Highway. The Fullerton Union High School District, including Yorba Linda District, formed in 1914.
Mrs. Mabel Paine was hired in 1915 serving as teacher and subsequently as principal. She is remembered as one of the outstanding educators of the school district. After 32 years of faithful service, she retired in 1947.
MELROSE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Melrose Elementary School is named for the street on which it is located, in accordance with school district policy. Richard Melrose, for whom the street is named, was an Anaheim lawyer, who invested in real estate property. In 1887 he acquired a tract of land from Kraemer. Melrose, with his business background and Bradford with his aspirations for the town, were a good complement for each other. In 1910, A. S. Bradford saw the wisdom of creating a town site and Melrose’s holdings were subsequently deeded to Bradford. The boundaries of the town site were Chapman, Crowther, Bradford and Melrose. Later, Melrose dedicated Melrose, Main, Center and Santa Fe streets as roads forever. Melrose is credited with helping to found the town.
Melrose School is not the first school to occupy this site. McFadden School and La Jolla School preceded it. In 1938, the McFadden/La Jolla School site was a refuge for residents of the area who were rescued by the school principal, Chet Whitten, during the devastating Santa Ana River flood Forced from their homes, local families spent the night in safety while the torrents of flood waters and gusts of wind hammered the school building. There is an historical plaque in front of the school commemorating the event.
MORSE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Morse School was named for the street on which it was built. Prior to its acquisition by the Placentia Unified School District, the site was named El Sierra Ranch, acquired in 1905 by N. Frank Morse. Morse, through intense study and experience, was considered to have no equal in superior knowledge of citrus culture in this area. While he did not work in the groves himself, he directed his crews with expertise. He married Charlotte Frye and had two sons, Nathan and John. Both Mr. and Mrs. Morse were active in the community. While Frank’s activities were mainly business related, Mrs. Charlotte Frye served as a Trustee of the Placentia School. He was one of the first automobile owners at a time when the only paved road was Placentia Avenue. The view from their home on the forty acre ranch took in rolling hills, snowcapped mountains and a view of Santa Catalina Island with row after row of green and gold orange trees in between. They moved in 1923 to Fullerton, turning their home into a bunkhouse and cafeteria for the grove workers and oil field hands. This property was part of the original Juan Pacifico Ontiveros Mexican Land Grant.
RIO VISTA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Rio Vista School is located in the City of Anaheim within the boundaries of the Placentia Unified School District. It is named for the street on which it is located, Spanish for Beautiful River. Originally, the school opened with an office complex, a two-room kindergarten facility and three four-room buildings. The concept for this school provided for the sharing of a joint attendance area with McFadden School in order to alleviate racial segregation. Rio Vista opened to serve grades Kindergarten through Grade 2; McFadden School (then on the site of present day Melrose School) served grades three through six. After several years, with the addition of Building 500, students remained at Rio Vista for third grade. Rio Vista, in 1977, with the addition of several buildings and portable classrooms and the closure of McFadden School, covered all the grades through Grade 6.
The land was a part of the original Juan Pacifico Ontiveros Mexican Land Grant, which was bought at a later time by his son-in-law, August Langenberger, to grow wine grapes. He, then, sold off portions as typical farm land. When Rio Vista opened, the land toward the freeway was a cow pasture. The farm house was to the south of the school property.
ROSE DRIVE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Rose Drive School is named for the street on which it is located. It became a part of the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District with the merger of the two school districts. The land was originally granted to Don Bernardo Yorba by Mexico in 1834. The Land Grant, named Rancho Canon de Santa Ana, was east of the Ontiveros Land Grant and north of the Santa Ana River. Yorba built the largest adobe house in the country, was married three times and had 21 children. On his land, he built the area’s first school.
RUBY DRIVE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Ruby Drive is named for the street on which it is located. The developer/builder named the street to honor his wife, Ruby; he then named the remaining streets within the development for other “jewels.” Ruby was actually the licensed contractor for the development; because her husband had difficulty reading, she studied and passed the State examination to obtain a contractor’s license making it possible for him to build the homes within the development. She drew the plans for the houses as well as industrial properties in the City of Fullerton.
Originally the land was a part of the Juan Pacifico Ontiveros Mexican Land Grant. Daniel Kraemer purchased a large portion of the grant. A few years later, Thomas Strain bought a portion from Kraemer which included the land on which the school is built. Strain, who emigrated from Ireland, grew oranges. Eventually, the land was purchased by the school district.
Prior to the opening of Ruby Drive School, children from the town site attended Bradford School located on present-day Valencia High School site. In the late 1950s, the Placentia School District realized that the community was growing and an additional elementary school was needed. From Bradford School, on the day that Ruby Drive opened, the children gathered their pencils and books, left their Bradford School classrooms and walked down to their new school, Ruby Drive Elementary School.
SIERRA VISTA ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Sierra Vista School was named for its address at the time it opened. However, not too long after that, the City of Placentia changed the street’s name. This occurred in an effort to join two portions of Placentia Avenue; North Placentia Avenue and South Placentia Avenue were once separated by a short stretch of road called Sierra Vista part of which was in front of the school. It was such a pretty name that the decision was made to maintain Sierra Vista as the school’s name.
While the land was once a part of the very large Mexican Land Grant awarded Juan Pacifico Ontiveros, as time passed it was owned by a member of the George Key family and is remembered by old timers for its rows and rows of orange trees. Within walking distance, the family dwelling, the George Key Ranch, is just across Bastanchury Road from the school.
TOPAZ ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Topaz Elementary School is named for the street on which it is located; this street is one of a group of streets carrying name of a precious stone.
The land on which the school is built was part of the original land grant from Mexico to Ontiveros for his service with Gaspar de Portola’s army. A portion of the grant became the property of Attillio Pierotti, an Italian immigrant. Mr. Pierotti was active in community affairs in both Placentia and Fullerton. When they first came, Attillio and his wife, Jane Strain, parents of four children, lived in a small wooden frame building, but as Allitllio became prosperous with his orange crops, he built a beautiful mansion, which exists today behind a white fence facing Bradford Avenue. Aside from the family home, in the mid 1960s, much of the property was sold by the heirs to the City of Fullerton, now the site of a shopping mall and Topaz Elementary School.
JOHN O. TYNES ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Usually schools within the district are named for the street on which they are located. This school was named to honor a man known as “Mr. Placentia.” John O. Tynes came to Placentia in 1944 and began his long years of service to the community. At various times, he was teacher, coach, physical education coordinator, school superintendent, city councilman, mayor and a short-term city manager.
During his service to the school district, Tynes, who coped with a life-long vision deficit, spearheaded the building of a new school, planned and built to accommodate children with physical handicaps who were to be integrated with all the children into all aspects of school life.
The property on which the school is built was once owned by Ontiveros. When Daniel Kraemer came to California in 1865 from Illinois, he purchased 3500 acres of this land grant. First, he grew barley, raised cattle and horses. He tried growing grapes but disease ruined the crops. Kraemer found success in orange ranching. When the orange crop developed blight, the land was sold to developers with fifteen acres purchased by the school district to build John O. Tynes Elementary School.
TRAVIS RANCH SCHOOL
The Travis School takes its name from the J. Coleman Travis Ranch which was located on Esperanza Road. It was built as a state-of-the-art school to accommodate grades Kindergarten through grade 8. A community building was built on the campus at the same time.
The Travis family came to Los Angeles in 1869, then moved to the City of Orange. At the end of the nineteenth century, their son married Zoraida B. Yorba, a daughter of Prudencio Yorba and Dolores Ontiveros. He bought part of the Prudencio Yorba land and was a successful rancher. His son, J. Colemen Travis, Jr. lived there until his death. The ranch, in 1919, hosted the first meeting, and many thereafter, of the Orange County Historical Society. Dorothy Travis was active in local clubs and philanthropies.
VAN BUREN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Placentia Unified School District, in 1963, purchased 11 acres, a portion of a citrus ranch originally established by the Pete Bonderson family, from the Blattner Ranch Company. At least five oil wells existed on the property. The street was named for Martin Van Buren, 8th president of the United States, who served from 1837 to 1841. In the area, it is one of three streets named for former presidents; the others are Lincoln and Jefferson.
The land was originally part of the land grant awarded to Don Bernardo Yorba for his service in the Mexican army.
WAGNER ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Wagner Elementary School is named for the family ranch rather than its street location. The school is built on a small portion of the Charles Wagner Ranch. Originally, the land was part of the Mexican Land Grand awarded to Juan Pacifico Ontiveros for his Mexican army service.
Charles and John Wagner emigrated from Germany and joined a wagon train heading for the gold country. The brothers must have had some success, for, in 1871, they came to the Placentia area with b thousands of sheep that, during the hot summer months, grazed in the hills to the north. Charles, Sr. bought 150 acres of land. When his vineyards failed, he found success with walnuts and oranges, which he grew from seed. After Charles’ death, his widow married his brother, John. Ultimately, the Wagner family inherited the property and it was divided. The house to the west of the school property was the home of Joseph Wagner; it was built in 1919 on property inherited from his parents’ estate. The Charles Wagner, Jr. home, built in 1920, is located a few blocks east at 902 E. Yorba Linda Blvd. The John Wagner, Jr. home, built in 1907-08, is located across from El Dorado High School at 1542 Valencia Avenue. None of these homes remain in the Wagner family.
WOODSBORO ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Woodsboro School is named for the street on which it is located, consistent with the school district policy. The school was built on part of the original Yorba Ranch land. When it opened in 1977, the interior plan followed the then current trend to open space with minimum use of walls. The same building plans were used for Topaz Elementary School; both opened the same year.
The story of the school mascot, the honey bee, is part of the school’s history. Prior to the purchase of the land by the school district, this specific location was used by bee keepers who gathered and sold honey. During the first years of the school, bees buzzed around continuing to search for their previous hives. The bees were a problem for the children when they played outside before school and at recess. Unfortunately, some of the students were stung. To add another historical note, the nearby Yorba Regional Park is located on the original Santa Ana river bed where it traversed the Yorba Ranch.
BERNARDO YORBA MIDDLE SCHOOL
Consistent with school district policy, Bernardo Yorba Middle School is named for a person of local historical interest. Don Bernardo Yorba is the son of Jose Antonio Yorba, who received a very large Spanish land grant in 1810 for his military service as a member of the Portola Expedition. It was called Rancho Canyon de Santa Ana. Bernardo, his son, was awarded a large land grant from Mexico for his army service. His land grant was located north of the Santa Ana River, east of the Ontiveros land grant. To provide for his family, he built the largest adobe house in the country; he married three times, and had 21 children. His ranch was, as needed to be at that time, like a self-sufficient city. Many travelers came for visits. Sea captains bringing goods from across the ocean were among those who visited. He built the first school house in the area for his children, his workers’ children and others in the area to attend. California State Monument #46 honoring him can be visited at the northeast corner of Esperanza Road and Echo Hill.
TUFFREE MIDDLE SCHOOL
Consistent with school district policy, Tuffree Middle School is named for a local historical figure, Colonel John Kendall Tuffree. He was born in 1841. In 1871 he came to California. Upon his marriage to Carolina Borromeo Polhemus, they received a wedding present of the land from her parents. Colonel Tuffree was an agent for the Robinson Trust and had other businesses. The big Tuffree reservoir that irrigated the surrounding ranches is currently the lake at Tri City Park. The school is built on part of the Tuffree family land holdings.
KRAEMER MIDDLE SCHOOL
Consistent with school district policy, Kraemer Middle School is named for a person of local historical interest, Daniel Kraemer. In 1865, with the arrival of Daniel Kraemer, the story of Placentia really begins. For him, his wife and his family, he bought 3,500 acres from the Ontiveras family, the original land grant holder. They lived for a time in the original Ontiveras adobe. Kraemer became one of the major forces in the business of the community, from the days of ranching to days of oil wells, to water rights and more. The preserved minutes read: August 17, 1874 “The petition asking for a school district to be called “Cajon School District” passed the Board of Supervisors….” Daniel Kraemer immediately donated five acres on the sandwash on Orangethorpe Avenue. William McFadden advanced his own money for the building and they erected a twenty by forty foot school house with two doors and one room. So, it continued with Kraemer family’s support of the community. We have the school, the park, a building in downtown, a street – all – memorializing the Kraemer name. Kraemer Park and the Backs Building were given to the city by his daughter and husband (Backs) in memory of Daniel Kraemer.
VALADEZ MIDDLE SCHOOL ACADEMY
In accordance with district policy, Valadez Middle School is named for a person of local historical interest. It is appropriately named, Valadez Middle School since he, Senor Gualberto J. Valadez, was one of the revered teachers of the school district. Valadez began his career in Placentia, in 1939, teaching Spanish and Physical Education at La Jolla School, a segregated school from which students graduated in the tenth grade. In 1956, he was transferred to Valencia High School where he continued to teach Spanish and served as a cross-country coach. Throughout his career, he was honored with numerous awards for his contributions to education and the community. He retired in 1983 after forty-four years in the school district, leaving a lasting legacy.
YORBA LINDA MIDDLE SCHOOL
Yorba Linda Middle School was a part of the Yorba Linda School District prior to the merger with the Placentia Unified School District. It served students in grade 6, 7, and 8.
EL CAMINO REAL HIGH SCHOOL
El Camino Alternative High School is named for an aspect of our local heritage as school district policy proscribes. El Camino Real was the name the padres gave to the road that connected the missions that they established from the Mexican border to the Oregon border. Each mission was one day’s foot travel apart on the El Camino Real highway. In English, it means “The Road of the King.” It seems appropriate for the school that provides each student his path to success.
EL DORADO HIGH SCHOOL
Consistent with the school district policy to name high schools for our cultural heritage, the school’s name reflects the exploration of California by Spanish and Mexican armies. The El Dorado is the legendary South American city sought by the early Spanish Explorers.
The school district purchased the southern portion of the Brower Ranch on which to build its second high school. Mrs. Ysidora McFadden Brower was the granddaughter of William McFadden, who cane to area in 1869. Along with ranching, McFadden taught school, paid for the first school building in this area and served as Los Angeles Superintendent of Schools.
El Dorado opened with an enrollment that incorporated middle school students; those students went on to be part of the school’s graduating class in 1969. This inclusion was only temporary; Tuffree Middle School was in the planning stage.
ESPERANZA HIGH SCHOOL
Consistent with school district policy, Esperanza High School is named for our cultural heritage. This Spanish word, Esperanza, means HOPE in English. The word hope characterizes the motivation of settlers to this area, whether as early as the Yorba and the Ontiveros families, or those who came to make possible the citrus and oil industries.
VALENCIA HIGH SCHOOL
Consistent with school district policy, Valencia High School is named for our cultural heritage. Valenica is well known as a city and port in E. Spain. Probably for this area, it is best known as the name for a very important variety of orange – Valencia. Sharing honors with the winter producing Naval oranges, the Valencia oranges were the summer crop. Richard Gilman, of Placentia, in 1880, budded five acres of Valencia seedlings. He found that conditions were perfect in Placentia for the Valencia orange to succeed. With forty acres, his was the first commercial Valencia orange ranch.
One of the buildings on the Valencia High School campus is part of the old Bradford School that survived a fire. At Valencia High School’s beginning, the students shared the campus with those students attending Bradford School and with school district offices.
The site of Valencia High School is on part of the original Ontiveros Land Grant.
YORBA LINDA HIGH SCHOOL
To memorialize our local heritage, Yorba Linda High School has the same name given to the original settler, Jose Antonio Yorba, who had a Spanish Land Grant awarded to him for his service with the Portola Expedition north from Mexico into what is now California, USA.