When is a junior high school not a junior high school?


According to Hesperia Unified School District school board member Hardy Black, it's when the junior high school in question is Hesperia Junior High School.


"Traditionally a junior high school is [grades] 7, 8, 9 or at least 7, 8," Black said. Black, a retired teacher, began his career in the HUSD teaching Spanish at HJHS back in 1968. "We used to have 7, 8, 9 there. It was a true junior high school."


But then Hesperia High School opened in 1984, and Hesperia Junior High School lost its ninth graders to the new school. But it kept the name.


Future schools serving sixth, seventh and eight graders -- Ranchero and Cedar -- were both called middle schools (although Black notes that, traditionally, middle schools serve sixth through eighth grades, not just seventh and eighth). But Hesperia Junior High School retained its original name.


"It's always kind of perplexed me," Black said.


So at the December 8 school board meeting, Black put the question of Hesperia Junior High School's name on the agenda for a future meeting.


"I don't care, just so there's uniformity," he said. "We ought to designate all three schools the same, because they're the same thing."


"Just plain old 'Hesperia Junior High School' is fine with me," said Louise Nowland, whose grandson attends the school and who volunteers at the site. She doesn't want the school to follow the current convention of naming a school after one of the streets that border it: "I like the name 'Hesperia.'"


(Hesperia Junior High School is bordered by Cypress Avenue, Riverside Street, 11th Avenue and Willow Street.)


"I don't really care; it doesn't make any difference to me," said Cathy Iglesias, a mother of both a current and former Hesperia Junior High School student, and another parent volunteer. "I really don't have a preference, to be honest. A school's a school. If it would change things and improve the curriculum, I'd be all for it."


The next scheduled meeting of the Hesperia Unified School District school board will take place on January 12 at 6 p.m. at the HUSD annex building, 15576 Main Street. (A special meeting, discussing the district's looming budget crisis, will be held on January 5 at the same location, starting at 4 p.m.)


Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.