In 1958, Hesperia's rapid pace of development had seen its population explode by almost 10 times the number of residents just four years before -- to about 4,000 residents total.

Developer M. Penn Phillips had just built the city's golf course and airport, and was marketing the area as an upscale retirement community, according to local historian Gary Drylie.

And the population boom meant that the community -- Hesperia would not become a city for another 30 years -- needed its second school. (Joshua Circle Elementary School had opened several years earlier.)

Juniper Elementary School opened in 1958, and Friday night, the streets around the school were filled with parked cars, as the community turned out to celebrate.

Hundreds crowded onto the school's athletic fields, where they could play in bounce houses, try and drop teachers into a dunk tank, climb through an obstacle course, sing along to karaoke or check out a set of classic cars.

T-shirts designed by sixth grader Kerri-Ann Dills were also on sale, commemorating "Juniper's Rockin' 50th," depicting students from all five decades the school had been in existence.

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