Bird Rock school set for a year of La Jolla memories

Dave Schwab

Sixty years ago, Bird Rock Elementary School students and staff gathered for a photo at the unfinished La Jolla school building. This year, the photo will be recreated as part of the yearlong commemoration of the school’s opening.

Joe Trotter who was in that first school picture in 1951 and still lives in Bird Rock is looking forward to the celebration.

Trotter, whose family lived in the 5800 block of Beaumont Avenue, remembers that “in those days it was less dangerous to walk or ride bikes to school” and that Bird Rock “was a lot less developed and less crowded.”

He recalls when the hills now filled with homes were home to only chaparral. Then, he said, you could hike in to see trap-door spiders “that you hardly see anymore.”

Bird Rock Elementary kindergarten teacher Lorene LaCava, part of a group organizing the efforts, said they are planning “to take the same photo in front of the building (that was taken) exactly 60 years ago.”

As another part of the celebration, Bird Rock resident Jane Wheeler will create a mosaic bench for the school funded by sales of more than 550 copies of Bird Rock Community Council’s community cookbook that’s filled with residents’ favorite recipes.

“It’s being created to honor the staff who dedicated their careers to our school,” said LaCava. It will include the names of all 19 of principals and teachers “who retired after spending at least 10 years teaching the children of this neighborhood.”

LaCava said other events marking the anniversary will include a community birthday party, that’s a work in progress.

LaCava said the school is reaching out to the community for the commemoration.

“We’re creating a birthday book with wishes, stories and fond memories,” she said. “It’s a way for people to touch the future by talking about what they’ve experienced here in the past.”

If you want to be included, e-mail LaCava at