Developers had promised in the early 1960s that the site of the current was to become .
And with a burgeoning population of young families, the race to build schools was off to a fast start.
In 1962, Walnut Valley School District opened , barely beating the 1963 Pomona Unified School District opening of .
However, it was not until June of 2001 that the elusive dream of a public high school graduation in North Diamond Bar came true.
Almost named Tres Hermanos High School by the Pomona Unified School District (PUSD), is the school that might never have been without volunteer tenacity powering political will.
Emmett Terrell, who retired as PUSD Deputy Superintendent of Personnel Services, described the process as “how do we get it done in a way we can afford?”
The Diamond Point Experience
In 1978, when Sue Sisk and husband John transferred to Southern California from their native Ohio, she remembers falling in love with the openness and the lush green hillsides in the Diamond Bar community.
However, staying in love with the Pomona Unified School District proved a bigger challenge for the Diamond Bar mother.
“I was a mom who wanted a local high school,” Sisk said.
Emmett Terrell left a teaching position in Pomona to become assistant Principal and then Principal of the school called simply “the Point.”
Before condominiums were built on the adjacent hillside, Terrell said he liked to “go to school very early and just look at the open space."
Back then, the hillside across from on Golden Springs Drive was where weekend hang-gliders did their best to cruise from the hilltop without landing in thick patches of spiny cactus.
Terrell said he was pleased to find a “very highly engaged community" around the school.
"My first PTA Board meeting, there were 25 parents,” Terrell said.
Terrell said the staff excelled. Colleen Wasson, the school secretary, had extensive executive experience. Clerk-typist Leslie Allen did not need direction. A classroom aid, Brenda Engdahl, was also President of the Municipal Advisory Committee.
During Terrell's tenure at “The Point," students from the newly developing Pomona subdivision of Phillips Ranch were bussed into the Diamond Bar school until Decker Elementary opened.
With less than 400 students currently enrolled, at its peak in the 1975 to 1976 school year, Diamond Point served 764 students.
Concerns at the Middle School Level
Largely happy with the elementary education, once students entered , parents’ concerns elevated, Sisk said, hinting that PUSD considered Diamond Bar a colonial outpost, subject to benign neglect.
Sisk winced at memories of “dead mice and disrepair."
"There was not even a fire extinguisher in the gymnasium,” Sisk said.
The fire department later cited the school for violations. Forty days later, just prior to an awards show, the fire department padlocked the gym for code violations.
The district sprung into action, enabling the event to continue as scheduled.
During these "Ganesha Years," when those in North Diamond Bar attended the Pomona School, Lorbeer was a bittersweet ending to the years when local kids attended school together.
For suburban Diamond Bar parents, there were strong concerns about sending children out of Diamond Bar for high school.
Opening a North Diamond Bar Campus
Prior to Diamond Ranch opening, the PUSD attrition rate from Diamond Bar and Phillips Ranch was 70 percent.
Sisk said that, then, a low number of PUSD students entering college worried her.
Sisk also recalled parent concern after a shooting on campus at Ganesha.
"How do you deal with academics when you are concerned about safety?" Sisk said.
One North Diamond Bar student who attended Ganesha said the experience was uncomfortable.
"The Pomona kids did not like us," she said. "They thought we were all rich. We most certainly were not."
Like many of her neighbors, Sisk said she experienced stress waiting to see if PUSD would release her child, Tim, to attend public school elsewhere.
With release in hand, Troy Tech accepted Tim Sisk.
With many students from North Diamond Bar and around 116 middle schools in the area, his mom became one of a pool of parents paying for busses to and from the Fullerton campus, which was quickly gaining a reputation for college prep.
Principal Terrell said he remembers PUSD Superintendent Irv Moskowitz as “savvy on how to capture, keep and meet the needs of the community.”
Terrell said the superintendent felt the energy in the community could hold together a coalition to build a high school that would serve North Diamond Bar families.
In 1991, PUSD wanted voters to approve Proposition E — a $62.5 million dollar general bond to improve school facilities district-wide.
Sisk and other Diamond Bar parents agreed to help, but only if money was set aside for a high school in Diamond Bar.
With an agreement in hand, Sisk relied on community activist Gary Neely and Mayor John Forbing for helping with the process and strategy to succeed in the 12 Diamond Bar-PUSD precincts to pass the bond.
While the 10 million dollars set aside was good, it was still not enough.
A major proponent of the high school was then California Senator Frank Hill. Author of SB 1718, the measure allowed the City of Industry to sell 72 acres of undeveloped freeway frontage with major geotechnical concerns to the Pomona Unified School District for $1.00.
Gary Neely, a current district representative for Sen. Bob Huff (R-Diamond Bar), praised the bill in a Los Angeles Times commentary:
"This bill would further require the City of Industry to donate $8 million a year for the next 15 years into a fund to be used to construct low- to moderate-income housing within a 15-mile radius of their city's boundaries.”
In addition, the City of Industry provided $5.4 million needed for the extensive grading needed to build the school.
Before a building even took shape, a 350-member booster club had formed in support of the campus. Sisk recalls the community frustration with a series of delays.
"The core stayed together for our kids out of fear the high school wasn’t going to become a reality without parent oversight,” Sisk said.
In 1992, Patrick Leier, in his role as the new PUSD Superintendent, hired the architectural firm of Morphosis to design a campus beset with challenges.
Besides geotechnical and budget issues, there were problems of jurisdiction. With the entry point in Pomona and the buildings in Diamond Bar, law enforcement jurisdictional boundaries between Pomona Police Department and the L.A. County Sheriff, serving Diamond Bar, needed clarification.
Five years of seemingly endless hurdles passed before the first principal, Albert Webb, opened the school in portable classrooms.
Two years later, students transferred to the permanent facility that Architecture Week described as "a rare example of architecture that not only inspires but also educates."
The über modern design is not without its critics, who deride it as prison-like. However, the jutting sculptural campus led the Hyatt Foundation to honor lead architect Thom Mayne with its prestigious Pritzker Architecture Prize for its contribution to the art of architecture.
Mayor Steve Tye, whose wife Patty teaches at Diamond Ranch, said the city is "blessed we are to have two award-winning high schools serving Diamond Bar students every day in every classroom."
"The effort was lengthy," Tye said, "but the educators and students at Diamond Ranch High School have proven over and over again that it was worth it."