IUSD at 40: There was Rancho San Joaquin Middle School – and not much else


Rancho San Joaquin Middle School actually predates IUSD, opening its doors in 1970 as part of the old San Joaquin School District, which split in ’72.

In those early days, Rancho was home to about 1,200 students in grades seven, eight and nine, as Irvine and University high schools had yet to come online. Off campus there wasn’t much else around, with the exception of some curious cows who eyeballed the new crop of students from an adjacent field.

“On the east side of the campus was a pasture,” says current Principal Scott Bowman, “and the cows used to hang their heads over the fence. The kids would go over and play with them.”

Bowman came to Rancho from Bonita Canyon Elementary in 1982 and ultimately took possession of a batch of slides that date back to Rancho’s opening. He was kind enough to share them with us, as well as the newer shot to the right, and what’s remarkable is just how barren the original landscape looks by comparison.

“It was completely undeveloped,” Bowman says.

In fact, the photo above could easily be mistaken for Stonegate, or some other newer part of Irvine. Also, “Land of the Lost” comes to mind.

Do you have an old photo of the Irvine Unified School District you’d like to share? Send it to ianhanigan@iusd.org, along with some basic caption information, including names, dates and locations. We may publish it on the NewsFlash as part of our IUSD at 40 project. Images from IUSD’s first four decades will be posted every Thursday.