BVH through the decades

Founded in 1966, Bonita Vista High (BVH) is one of the oldest schools in the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD). Throughout the past decades, there has been constant change within the school, whether it be students’ trends or the education system altogether. 

As teachers and students come and go, U.S. (United States) Government and World History teacher Frank Schneemann has taught at BVH since 1980. One of the differences Schneemann has noticed when comparing BVH during the 1980s and the present was the usage of technology and how it affects students. Schneemann mentioned that as technology became more advanced, the number of students that read decreased. 

“They take a course in English and learn how to write a composition, yet they know nothing. They don’t know how to read,” Schneeman said. “It changed my ability to read. With the internet, I can cherry pick. I don’t read the whole text because I can search it up. That’s just the way the world has changed.”

Moreover, another change Schneemann noticed was the school’s schedule change, which took away the option for students to be dismissed during lunch. The previous schedule had allowed seniors to have the time to participate in internships and have part time jobs. 

“The school doesn’t treat seniors like adults. Seniors used to finish early—around noon—so it was a good thing because then they could go be an intern for jobs and take college classes. And they could help their families financially. But now seniors have to stay after lunch,” Schneemann said. 

A few of the events Schneeman remembers was how students would have a “lock-in” at the gym, where they would lock themselves in the gym and share food and interact with each other. Additionally, during hot summer days, BVH would dismiss students from the rest of their class during lunch, where they were able to bond and share popsicles with each other. Schneeman believes that due to the increase of the school’s population and the shift to a more academic focused environment, BVH has discontinued these bondings.

“There used to be days where students locked themselves in the gym and they would have a fun time. But now, there isn’t much freedom and it’s because the district was changing the education system,” Schneeman said. 

As opposed to Schneeman, U.S. History Honors and Women in American History teacher Candice DeVore graduated BVH in 1999 and became a BVH teacher in 2004. She mentioned that during her time as a BVH student, DeVore not only had an interest in history, but also an interest in building a connection with the school. She loved spreading school spirit as she was the Associated Student Body (ASB) commissioner of publicity her senior year. She reminisced back on her fun memories of high school.

“There were some traditions that we did as high school students. To help create a community, we sang the Alma Mater at the end of every pep assembly. The big thing when I was in high school was printing copies of our class graduating year and that was what we were waving around in the pep assembly,” DeVore said.

IB (International Baccalaureate) Coordinator Jared Phelps who graduated BVH in 1997 also remembers the pep assemblies ending with the Alma Mater after each assembly—which BVH Principal Lee Romero recently brought back. Moreover, he noticed that the BVH senior banquet, where seniors and their teachers came together for a meal, “dissolved”.

“When I started teaching here [in 2007], I remember at the end of the year, they would have a senior dinner. And there would always be teacher skits and performances. Some of them would be a gag where teachers would jab back at their students who had a good relationship with them,” Phelps said.

An event that was not discontinued but rather evolved was MORP—one of BVH’s dance. In 2022, the ASB hosted the dance with the theme being “glow in the dark.” Unlike recent years, when DeVore was a student MORP was a popular 70s themed dance and the ASB would host an “airband” before the dance as a tradition.

“It’s not as cool as it was back then. Before the dance we would have something called an airband, which was essentially a lip syncing contest where you and your friends would put together a routine,” DeVore said.

To communicate with friends for activities like these or to contact others, students carried around what was called a “pager”—also known as a beeper. Both DeVore and Phelps are familiar with this device, however, DeVore mentions that she stopped using it during her early years in high school. 

“You couldn’t call anyone. They could only send you a message and it would show up as a number. You would go to the payphone in front of the gym, and you would page them and it would show on the beeper,” DeVore said.

Another technology device that was rarely used in the late 1990s was “micro PCs (Personal computers)” as Phelps calls it. As a former newspaper student, Phelps recalls when students had an inconvenient experience with starting the computers and creating newspaper pages.

“I remember having this micro PC, this tiny computer and students were like ‘woah, what is that’. Laptops weren’t something students brought to school with them. I remember that all of our work in the newspaper was on the old Mac Classic with black and white screens that were small,” Phelps said. “You had to put in a 312 inch disk to boot the computer and once it was up and running, you had to take that disk out and put in another disk to run the page maker so you could edit your page.”

Every generation faces different trends, traditions and events as BVH evolves and experiences change throughout the years. Overall, for DeVore and Phelps, high school was a positive experience. 

“I always felt very comfortable in high school. I met my husband in high school. So it was a really fun experience. I felt like the people around me were also having a generally positive high school experience,” DeVore said.