By Peter Day
After graduating from Lucerne Valley High School in 2000, Russ Jarvis spread his wings, moved to Central Oregon and started a family. Despite loving life in the Beaver State, Jarvis thinks fondly of his days in small town Lucerne Valley.
“Growing up we had a lot of togetherness in the small town. Everybody knew everybody. Everybody was willing to help out.”
Like many who attend Lucerne Valley schools, Jarvis got to try his hands at a little bit of everything. He played on the high school football and baseball teams and participated in band and choir. After school he gave up the trombone for the guitar but, “I still sing a lot.”
Every time Jarvis gets to visit his hometown, he stops by the Burger Depot and China House for an old-time meal. “I never miss the opportunity.”
Jarvis’s fondest memories, however, are of the former Lucerne Valley R/C Raceway in the Lucerne Valley Shopping Center next to the pizza shop. Today, Jarvis provides security for a nearby hospital in Oregon, but he is following his passion by opening a remote car track to pass along the joy of RC racing to a new generation.
On the weekend of September 27-28, Jarvis will get a chance to visit his old haunts when he and others from LVHS’s graduating classes of 1995-2010 gather for the “Epic Multi Year Class Reunion.” The reunion starts on Friday with a tour of the LVMHS campus and also includes the school’s homecoming game, cocktail mixer and comedy show at the Holiday Inn in Victorville, followed on Saturday by a family softball game in the morning and ending with the banquet at the hotel in Victorville.
Adriana Barajas, who graduated from Lucerne Valley High School in 2006, is a reunion committee member helping event organizer Naomi Oyadomari, to plan and promote the event. Currently an instructional aide at the middle school, Barajas’s family moved to Lucerne Valley from Pasadena during her freshman year.
With nearly 2,000 students at Pasadena High School, she got lost in the shuffle in a class of several hundred. In Lucerne Valley, however she quickly felt at home in her freshman class of about 70.
“You didn’t just know the people,” she said. “They were like family. I love it here.”
Barajas remembers her first day at school when math teacher Mr. Johnson said, “Take a seat, child.” After class, “everybody came up and invited me to have lunch with them.”
Several of the high school teachers that Barajas remembers from the past are still teaching: Mr. Hood, Mr. Wortham and Ms. Munson, among others. Another favorite is recently retired ROP food services instructor Mrs. Spillman.
She remembers Mr. Johnson telling her about Lucerne Valley’s popular FFA program, headed by Mr. Van Bavel. He asked her, “Do you want to raise a pig?” The one-time city girl blurted out, “No!”
Now, knowing how fun and positive the FFA program is, Barajas wishes she would have said yes. “I wish I would have raised a pig!” said the Lucerne Valley resident. She is hoping her son Christian, now in 6th grade, will choose differently and consider participating in the award-winning program.
Another current Lucerne Valley resident, Andrea (Brewer) Fox, went all through school in Lucerne Valley. Graduating with the Class of 1997, she remembers a graduating class of about 40.
“We went from kindergarten through high school together. It’s pretty cool. We had a lot of fun.”
Fox jumped at the chance to participate in the FFA program, serving as an officer for two years, first as reporter and then as vice-president.
“The FFA program started when I was there,” she said.
Both of Fox’s daughter also have participated in the FFA program. Sydnee Fox, who graduated in 2018, was in FFA all four years. Currently her daughter Tatum Fox serves as an officer. At the center of the FFA program is Mr. Van Bavel, who today is helped by Ag teacher Danielle Hickman.
“He’s awesome as a teacher,” Fox said. “He was always a super nice person. He’s a very kind man. He’s very encouraging. He builds people up.”
Her favorite teachers, besides Mr. Van Bavel, were anatomy/physiology teacher Mr. Little, Ms. Levine and Mr. Hood, who kindly sent Fox a card after her father died during her freshman year.
One of the teachers that was there at the very beginning is middle school AVID/U.S. history teacher Naomi Oyadomari, who is organizing the Epic Reunion. Previously a teacher at an elementary school in Huntington Beach, the Hawaiian born educator came to the LVUSD in 1991 when the middle school — then at Midway and Rabbit Springs Road — also had ninth-graders for that school year. Lucerne Valley High School opened in the fall of 1992 with the new group of 10th-graders becoming LVHS’s first graduating class of 1995.
Fox has gone through a lot in the last 22 years since graduating LVHS. After gaining a lot of weight in her 20s, she was told by her doctor that she was pre-diabetic and needed to get healthy. Over five years, she lost 100 pounds and the former high school discus and shot-putter discovered a passion for fitness. Today she is a professional fitness trainer at a gym in the Victor Valley.
Fox, Barajas and Jarvis all have personal stories to share. They are looking forward to having a chance to catch up with old high school friends and make a few new ones.
“I’m looking forward to seeing everyone. It will be fun,” Fox said.
Oyadomari is happy to facilitate the alumni reunion and see so many get excited about coming back home.
“They want to come back to their little town,” Oyadomari said. “It’s more of a coming together and a way of having pride in where they grew up.”
Tickets for the Epic Reunion are available on Eventbrite.com. #LVHSepicMultiYearClassReunion. For more information, call (760) 248-2124. Proceeds benefit the 2020 DC Crew History Trip.
Peter Day currently is a social media advisor for the Lucerne Valley Unified School District.
Photo: Lucerne Valley High School Epic Multi Year Class Reunion organizers Adriana Barajas, left, and Naomi Oyadomari see the upcoming event on September 27-28 is an opportunity for LVHS alumni to get reacquainted and share memories. The deadline to purchase banquet tickets is September 7.