Simulators in Driver’s Ed at Chino High in the 1970s.

Simulators in Driver’s Ed at Chino High in the 1970s. 

Kerry Cisneroz

Kerry Cisneroz

Now that my kids are in high school, I can compare the differences of high school today, compared to when I attended high school in the 1980s.  I started attending Don Lugo High School my sophomore year in 1986. In addition to the typical educational requirements of English, math, history and science, Don Lugo offered some really great elective courses.  Auto shop, foods and ceramics were popular classes, but I gravitated towards art, cartooning, commercial art, television production, photography and yearbook. This was the last generation when all things were done by hand.  

Computers only existed in computer class, and were used mostly for typing.  

In photography we would take our roll of film into the darkroom to develop into negatives, and could then use those negatives to print photographs. All of the photos were black and white, and it was a mystery as to what the photo would look like until it was printed.  

Today’s cell phones with their instant camera images have my kids in complete disbelief when I explain how I had to wait days to see what a photograph looked like. 

Chino’s high schools also offered Driver’s Education class, aka “Driver’s Ed.” Driver’s Ed was a class that students could take on campus, for credit, that taught the rules, laws and skills of driving a car.  In addition to watching the film “Red Asphalt,” that intended to scare us into being better drivers, we also spent time driving in a “simulator.” 

The simulators gave us the opportunity to pretend we were driving.  Students would sit in a giant video game-like box, complete with a steering wheel, gas pedal, brake pedal and even side mirrors...all while watching a film projection screen that showed driving scenes as if we were looking through the front window of a car.  There was no way to crash, though we all intentionally tried to, but it was still a great experience.  

Driver’s Ed also gave students the opportunity to take their permit test in class, and behind the wheel lessons as a student driver, usually with one of the brave-hearted teachers.  

Driver’s Education classes are no longer offered at any high schools in Chino, and new drivers will never experience this memorable time of learning to drive with their peers, or being scared by a 1970s educational film.

Lunchtime in high school in the 80s was filled with pizza bread from the cafeteria, a Coke from the soda machine, and maybe candy or a Hostess cake from the vending machine.  

Yes, we had soda and candy and pizza on campus, and nobody seemed to care.  

Today there are nutritional requirements placed on schools and none of the foods and snacks mentioned are available to students. 

I’m sure that’s a good thing, but as a teen, a bag full of Skittles candy really helped make my school day better.  Students were allowed off campus during lunch, and some would drive to Naugles on Pipeline or Baker’s on Riverside Drive to pick up burgers and fries.  Today’s students only wish they could leave campus for lunch.

Chino and Don Lugo High had lockers from the ground up that lined the halls of the campus.  A locker was assigned to each student, and kids would store their lunch, books and anything else they wanted in their lockers.  

We all had our own locker combination, and it really made carrying books and Trapper Keeper folders easy.  Concerns of students hiding drugs or other undesirable things in their lockers created the great locker tear out of 1989, right after I graduated.  

None of the high schools in the Chino Valley have lockers now, and kids today will never know the excitement of opening their locker to find a flirty note with hearts drawn on it slipped through the vent from a secret admirer.  

I’m sure my kids will have their own high school memories, including masks and plexiglass and distance learning…which will surely leave their kids with their own modern-day disbelief.  

Share your Chino memories and feedback by email at  Kerry Cisneroz, a longtime Chino Valley resident, enjoys sharing memories and nostalgia of the community, which can be found in his Facebook group, “Chino Memories – Yesterday & Today.”

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