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Arovista Elementary

  • Casting Call – An Exciting Historic Centennial Opportunity for Brea Kids!

    6 months ago by

    Photo: Charlie the Clock as drawn by 2006 BOHS grad, Heather Ashlyn Collins, and background image courtesy of Greg Voisan Panoramic Photography.

    Photo: Festive "Charlie the Clock" as drawn by 2006 BOHS grad, Heather Ashlyn Collins, and background image courtesy of Greg Voisan Panoramic Photography.

      BOUSD elementary students, grades 3rd-6th, you can apply to be featured as kid characters in Brea’s 1st children’s book showcasing the city’s iconic Charlie’s Clock aka Charlie the Clock in time travel with friends - - celebrating Brea's centennial year in 2017.

        I have received parental consent for Valeria Zavala, a former student of Laurel Elementary, who made history as the first Brea student, awarded California National History Day Champion in 2015. Five more students are needed: one from Arovista, Country Hills, William E. Fanning, Mariposa and Olinda elementary.

          Orange County Register News: Our Town Brea, December 26, 2016.

          Orange County Register News: Our Town Brea, December 26, 2016.

            Overseeing the project based on my concept, the author of the book is Teresa Hampson, known for her history book, Brea: Celebrating 75 years, and 2006 BOHS grad and recent CSUF grad, Heather Ashlyn Collins, who drew Charlie the Clock caricature, is the book's Illustrator.

              I’m looking for kids who excel at academics and are interested in Brea history!

                The deadline has been set for Friday, January 6, 2017.

                  If you are interested, I'll need your child's name, name of school, grade level, and academic interests.

                    No doubt, it's going to be a very hard decision. Parents will be notified either way. More to come on Charlie the Clock group photo book op and sub-project opportunities for BOUSD kids, grades 3rd - 6th.

                      Please send your information via private message on Brea Old and New Facebook/Instagram or It's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!

                        I look forward to hearing from you!

                          Thank you!

  • BREA BACK THEN by Jolita Penn McDaniel

    12 months ago by

    Back then was 1938. I was three years old that year, and my very earliest memories began in Brea California. Brea, the little tar town whose hills in my memory were covered with pumping oil wells. Somewhere back in time, I remember those sounds of the rhythmic pumping whoosh of the wells that was both soothing and sleep inducing for me as a tiny girl. I only lived in Brea a few short years before we moved to the adjacent town of Fullerton, but those early years in Brea were rich and memorable and set the foundation for my path in life.

      Brian Penn with his daughters. Left, JoAn and Jolita Penn.

      Bryan Penn with his daughters. Left, JoAn and Jolita. Courtesy of JoAn Penn Haws

        Nine years before, my young farmer parents, Bryan and Ann Penn, dedicated, hard-working, God-fearing people, had moved from the poverty of their life in Arkansas to California with my older sister JoAn (then just a baby). After a five-day trek in their Model T Ford, they arrived with barely a dime in their pocket but filled with the treasure of their dreams for a new life in the beautiful “golden state”. After working a short time in the Olinda oil fields, Daddy landed a job with Shaffer Tool Works in Brea and worked there about two years. Mr. Shaffer invented the huge steel gate that was placed over oil wells to control the oil gushers when the oil came in while drilling, and that is what the company produced and mainly what my father made on his enormous lathe. I remember Mama telling me that she and Daddy rented a little house somewhere adjacent to Shaffer Tool Works when they were so young and fresh from Arkansas and Daddy was so eager to learn his craft and make a living for his family. She said that she would make yummy sandwiches for his lunch, and that Daddy's coworkers began to remark on his lunches and asked if Mama would make lunches for them. So, Mama said for a couple of years, some of Daddy's coworkers would come across the street to their little rental house and she would have prepared a good lunch for them. Money was so scarce in those days that she added a little pin money to their income that way. This would have been around 1929 and 1930. The depths of the current country's depression caught up and hit them personally. He was laid off, and he found himself jobless along with thousands of others across the nation. Since there were virtually no jobs (he did manage to pack pickles in a man's garage for 50 cents a day briefly), he and Mama still had eighty acres of land back in Arkansas where at least they could farm and eat, and prudently, back they went. I was born in 1935 there on the farm, and then wonder of wonders! In 1936, Shaffer called Daddy back to work, and beautiful California, the “land of opportunity”, became our permanent home.

          Mr. Shaffer at work.

          Mr. Shaffer at work. Courtesy of JoAn Penn Haws

            Daddy started at Shaffer Tool Works in 1929 and retired there in 1974. He was recruited to work for Vultee Aircraft in Downey, CA for a short time during WWII. We were extremely thankful for this job for it meant he would not be drafted into the military since he was doing national defense work. Daddy was well respected at Shaffer Tool Works advancing as a machinist, years later becoming supervisor. But he also was always wonderful to help at home, juggled finances, and, every chance he could, worked with my Uncle Bert Pyland in the butcher shop of the grocery store he and Daddy's sister, my Aunt Addie, now owned. Of course Daddy and Mama had lifelong experience on the farm raising and butchering their own hogs and calves. I remember him bringing home delicious sausage from the butcher shop that he and Uncle Bert made themselves. Daddy was a gentlemanly meticulous man who came home every night covered in oil and smelling strongly of kerosene with which he used to clean up his tools and himself, too. During the War, he grew a Victory Garden and all of his life satisfied the farmer in him by maintaining pristine yards and gardens full of flowers and beautiful vegetables. Every night, listening to the radio, I watched him clean his nails with his pen knife until they were clean and white again.

              Just this week, I checked with my cousin, Christine Kercheville who still lives there in the same house she and her husband bought over sixty years ago and where she raised her children. She lost her young husband at an early age, and remarkably she very capably raised and educated her four young children and was always a vital part of Brea's community and the Church of Christ. She tells me her parents' store was named Pomona Drive-In Market located on the corner of Date and Pomona Ave. Many called the store Pyland's Market. Pomona Avenue eventually became Brea Boulevard by which it is now known. Uncle Bert and Aunt Addie raised their two daughters in a little home on Madrona. Both girls raised their big families in Brea also - Christine as I mentioned, and Frances Lee Quinliven and her family, all of them attending the Brea Schools. My cousin Christine's son Mark Kercheville eventually returned to Brea to teach at Arovista School in Brea. My Aunt Addie when I was a girl was a tiny, quick-moving, quick-talking angel of an auntie, and she used to scoop me up in a huge hug, cover my face with kisses, and then push a lollipop into my hand. Of course I loved her!

                Shaffer Tool Works  logo. Courtesy of Joan

                Shaffer Tool Works logo. Courtesy of JoAn Penn Haws

                  From time to time, Daddy would take his little family to visit “the shop” at Shaffer’s, eager for us to know exactly what he did. To a small child, it was an immense building, the ceiling rising into darkened heights that held a bewildering array of huge overhead equipment lit by rows of stark electric bulbs that emitted a weak inadequate light for such a cavernous space. The floor felt thick and sticky with years of accumulated grease, dirt and the grit of metal dust. The smell was sharply distinctive, a strong hot aroma of steel shavings, oil and solvents, and the general atmosphere was one of enormous hunks of iron in dark shades of pewter, steel grey and black with a cold light filtering through dirty windows. The vibrating cacophony of tortured metal was deafening as it screeched and screamed turning on the many lathes that slowly delivered the final shining steel product. We always stood watching, all with our hands over our ears while Daddy demonstrated his quick and sure skill at his lathe. I surely wish I had the photos Daddy once owned of the entire Shaffer group circa 1930 or maybe late thirties. There is my very young father, probably in his twenties, and Mr. Shaffer and the whole group that Dad worked with for years. The company had a bowling team, and in Dad's younger days, a softball team, and later several of the men played golf together, and my athletic energetic Daddy was always right there, My father had lifelong friends from his career, and Elvin Wilson is one man I remember as being an especially close friend. Don Shaffer, son of the founder of the company became a good friend, and when Daddy died, I remember reading a touching hand-written letter to my mother expressing the personal respect he had and loss he felt for Daddy.

                    At the time Brea Grammar School was the only elementary school now Brea's only middle school, Brea Junior High.

                    At the time Brea Grammar School was the only elementary school, still similar in presence today as Brea Junior High. Courtesy of JoAnn Penn Haws

                      While living on Laurel, my sister JoAn began taking flute lessons from the band leader, Mr. Lee Auer, the music teacher at her elementary school. A fellow classmate, Martha Kitaoka of Japanese descent and quite a shy girl, took lessons, too. She enjoyed being with Martha and often invited her over. Only once did Martha invite JoAn to her house, and JoAn felt overwhelmingly intimidated as if she had stepped into a foreign land with exotic red ornate Japanese furnishings and a strange spicy fragrance. Martha's mother did not speak English and was obviously not happy to have JoAn in the house, and she was not invited to come on in, and indeed stood close to the door until time to leave. Shortly after this, our parents read in the newspaper that Martha's father and brother had been arrested as spies. They were geologists, and according to the paper, were caught with a short-wave radio in their basement sending vital mapping information to Japan. This was shortly before WWII, and quite disturbing in the little town of Brea on this very small block of Laurel. In another incident later, Mama and Daddy had farmer acquaintances, the Yamaguchi family that sold their wonderful farm vegetables from their roadside stand. Daddy enjoyed exchanging farming tips with Mr. Yamaguchi and Mama visited with his wife while purchasing produce. The whole Yamaguchi family (along with all Japanese-American families) was moved from their land and interned during WWII for fear of spying. My mother was incensed and I heard her say, “Bryan, the Yamaguchis are no more spies than we are!”

                        The winter of 1939, my younger sister Jan was born, and though I was only four, I well remember a storm that Mama called “a cloud burst”. This little rented house on Laurel Street was conveniently less than two blocks away from Daddy's work so that he could always walk. It sat right at the bottom of the V formed by the hilly street, and backed up against a dry, sandy riverbed that I loved to run barefoot in. There were no light fixtures except for a porch light, and as I remember, each room was lit by a light bulb hanging on a cord from the ceiling and there was a chain to turn the light off and on. There were two small bedrooms, a kitchen, a living room that looked out on the front porch facing the street, and a small bathroom that was the delight of the family. An indoor bathroom!! With running water, a bathtub, and best of all, a flush toilet. This rather marvelous rental sat on a very small sloping lot, and the tiny one-car garage sat downhill at the back of the house, but it was our little home and Mama and Daddy were wonders at making our homes livable and cozy.

                          I actually remember that storm for it frightened me. The wind threw enormous raindrops at the windows that bounced off the glass sounding like handfuls of gravel being pitched against them. The noisy, rattling, hard-hitting wave after wave of water finally reached flood stage. When Mama stepped to the side of the porch and looked at the garage down the driveway, she was aghast to see boxes floating in four feet of water out the open door. She was just sick to realize many sentimental memories in her big trunk including precious letters and baby clothes and photos were ruined that day. Thank goodness Daddy's relatively new car, a 1936 Chevy that I think I remember he paid $400 for, was parked out front instead of in the garage. The “dry” riverbank spilled into our backyard and water lapped at the back steps. It was only a few years until an enormous flood control program installed “barrancas” and alleviated most of the flooding problem for Brea and Fullerton.

                            September, 1939 (the same year and month my little sister was born), I began Kindergarten at the Laurel Street Elementary School at the tender age of four years, eight months. I was so eager, and the memory of that first day is so sharp, I even remember the little new school dress my Mama made me. It was off white with puffed sleeves and printed with little red apples all over it. Mama said “apples for your teacher!” I loved it and loved my class and especially loved Miss Elder, my Kindergarten and First Grade teacher, and as little as I was, I've never forgotten her kind influence. I was like a sponge I was so ready to learn.

                              Writing these remembrances of Brea brings back memories of people with whom my family interacted, and Dr. Curtis comes to mind. He was the Pyland's family doctor for maybe thirty years or more and was wonderful to them. He and Mama were friends, for Mama often helped her sister-in-law through some tough illnesses and Uncle Bert's terrible fall.

                                Dr. Ed Steen in Fullerton was our family doctor, and saw us safely through our illnesses including my sister Jan's Caesarian birth more than seventy-five years ago. Jan was a miracle baby for Mama should not have been able to carry her, but God granted life to both my sister who is a true gift to the world, and to my Mama long blessed years At age six, I vaguely remember seeing Dr. Steen sitting asleep in a chair across from my bed when he spent the night to support us through a scary time afraid I may not live from pneumonia. Our family was attended by him and his beautiful nurse, Veda Wade for many years. Miss Wade's influence was the reason I eventually went into medical assisting, for she made terrifying doctor visits bearable by her serenity and soothing hands and lovely voice. He was our physician until his untimely death by car accident, taking this gifted man from us far too early.

                                  Brea Grammar School 6th grade class of 1923. Sitting far right JoAn Penn. Courtesy JoAn Penn Haws

                                  Brea Grammar School 6th grade class of 1938. Sitting far right, JoAn. Courtesy of JoAn Penn Haws.

                                    Mr. Jaster was a teacher at JoAn's school, and became the principal. He became lifelong friends of my parents, and he sold a product named “Selrodo” that dispensed an epinephrine liquid to help open breathing passages for hay fever and asthma. My mother had hay fever and she swore by Selrodo, because when I was struggling to breathe with pneumonia, she used it on me and always thought it saved my life. I remember Mama buying Selrodo from Mr. Jaster and laughing and talking with him on the phone when she was in her sixties at least.

                                      Mr. Barnes of Oilfield National Bank comes to mind, also, and Daddy and Mama admired and respected him as a professional who also became a good friend. Daddy said Mr. Barnes took a chance on him as a very young man recently transplanted from the farm in Arkansas, and my parents had their bank account with Oilfield National Bank for most of their lives. I remember my mother calling Mr. Barnes when she was unhappy with a mortgage on a house they bought in Fullerton, and within twenty-four hours, she and Dad paid off that bad mortgage and had a new good loan from Mr. Barnes.

                                        I recently asked my sister JoAn (who is seven years older), if my memory was right about Brea then, for I remember beautiful rolling hills and pristine blue skies before smog when you could easily see the snow-covered San Gabriel mountains. There were lovely mild days when I rode my tricyle up and down the small hilly street. She said it was a lovely little town, and her memory, too, is one of a quiet pretty place to live. It seems there was an enormous archway over the entrance to Brea on what would eventually become Brea Boulevard, and on the right was a pretty park with swings and slides and teeter-totters and a city swimming pool called “The Plunge”. I thought the plunge an awesome privilege, and my Mama and sister JoAn often swam there with me.

                                          And that is the jist of what I remember of the little Brea I knew as a small child. We moved only fifteen minutes away to Fullerton the summer before I started Second Grade, but Brea remained a constant in our lives. Family still lived there, Daddy and Mama banked there, and most importantly, Daddy worked there. I always had the feeling of stepping back in time when we drove back as a teenager and young adult, for I believe real growth in Brea did not begin until maybe the fifties. The pumping oil wells on the lovely rolling hills would welcome us first, then we'd drive under the old graceful Brea archway, and the pretty park and pool and beautiful tree-lined streets would greet us. I always loved the smell of oil and kerosene and even gasoline for I associated it with hugging my loving father in his dirty work clothes. How this somewhat shy, meticulous man would fuss at us, for he didn't want us to get oil on us. But we got the oil anyway, good oil remembrances down in our spirits from the loving years we spent in the beginning of our lives in California, and it didn't hurt us a bit.

                                            From those humble beginnings, our family grew to include doctors, a dentist and hygienist, dental assistants, medical assistant, electrician, scholars, teachers, physicists, artists, musicians, ministers, CHP, a policeman, and even a beauty queen! JoAn just recently reminded me that after high school, as a young woman before she married, she too, worked for a short time as a secretary for Shaffer Tool Works right next to Don Shaffer and his father's offices. Now I am an old lady, and perhaps my memories are jaded and softened by time, but to me those years were halcyon years. Our precious Jan was born during that time, our mother lived to become a feisty vibrant continuing part of our lives, Daddy was able to buy lovely homes and enjoy the California he loved, and my sisters and I were given the gift of two loving parents providing the very best life they could possibly give us. We have a treasure of humble yet loving memories of those sweet early years and they are locked in my heart always.

                                              Jolita Penn McDaniel

                                                June 2016

  • 2015-2016 PTA Reflections Program creative results!

    2 years ago by

    Helen Newland and Rosemary Kleiser co-chaired the Brea PTA Reflections program. The contest is a national arts competition. Winners were awarded a medal and certificate.

    Some of the award winners of the Reflections PTA contest included (left to right) Devin Hall, photography, Dominique Chen, literature, and Alexander Telly, film.(Courtesy Rosemary Kleiser)

    Some of the award winners of the Reflections PTA contest included (left to right) Devin Hall, photography, Dominique Chen, literature, and Alexander Telly, film.(Courtesy Rosemary Kleiser)

      “The PTA Reflections theme this year is Let Your Imagination Fly,” Helen said. “Wow, did the students from Arovista Elementary, Brea Country Hills Elementary, Brea Junior High, Brea Olinda High School, Laurel Elementary, Mariposa Elementary and William E. Fanning Elementary do just that.”

        Some 171 students entered the judged contest, which includes arts from dance choreography and film production to literature and visual arts.

          “It was a wonderful way students could express their talents and imagination,” Rosemary said. She thanked Brea Woods seniors who were the judges.

            Winners included Lexi Alives, Evelyn Burt, Dominique Chen, Nathan Doh, Devin Hall, Si Woo Kim, Alexander Telly and Nolan Witt.

              Honorable mentions went to Steve Clark, Andrew Gandora, Esmeralda Garcia, Danielle Kim, Novelly Torres and Dominique Zenzola.

                Any news? Give Susan Gaede a jingle at 714-529-8561 or email her at

  • Brea’s Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony and Santa’s Arrival

    2 years ago by

    Well there’s no place like home for the holidays! It’s that special time of year to spend time with family and friends, enjoy good food, share gifts and gather as a community for Brea’s Annual Tree Lighting Celebration!

      Our traditional Tree lighting ceremony is scheduled on Thursday, December 3, at 6:30 p.m., taking place on the front steps of the Civic & Cultural Center.
      Former Mayor Brett Murdock speaking to the community at the annual tree lighting ceremony last year.

      Former Mayor Brett Murdock speaking to the community at the annual Tree lighting ceremony last year.

        It’s a treat for the whole family with live music and entertainment including musical performances from Arovista Elementary School First Graders, Brea’s own Singing Pastors and cast from Brea’s Youth Theatre production of Mary Poppins, produced by Stagelight Productions.

          And to keep you warm, comfy cozy hot chocolate and cookies will be served courtesy of our Corner Bakery.

            Last but not least of course will be the arrival of Santa, creating a wonderland of excitement. Also photo op time with Santa for only $5 for a 5x7.

  • Come see Seussical the Musical starring Brea elementary students

    2 years ago by


      By CC Giang, community publicity volunteer for Seussical production.

        Seussical tickets are up for grabs starting this Sunday, November 8 to the public. Don't miss out, it is a sold out event each year. Come see your fellow classmates and friends perform in this fun and silly production. Fanning coordinates an all inclusive production for all six elementary schools every year to promote Arts and Music for our kids. Come and support us and see if this is something your child might be interested in joining next year. Registration is always FREE!

          What an exciting and great opportunity for our Brea kids!!! To see the show, tickets will go on sale this Sunday at the Brea High School starting at 12:00-6:30. Only $10.00 per ticket with the following show times to choose from:

            November 12, Thursday @6:30

              November 13, Friday @7:00

                November 14, Saturday @2:00

                  November 14, Saturday @7:00

                    November 15, Sunday @2:00

                      November 15, Sunday @6:30

                        Hope to see you there!

  • Brea elementary students open registration for Wizard of Oz

    3 years ago by

      “There’s no place like home,” don’t you agree! Fanning PTA and Stagelight Productions are working together again to present a school play: Wizard of Oz. The play is open to elementary students in the Brea Olinda Unified School District, giving them an exciting opportunity to tap into their creative side. For those of you who are interested, a parent meeting will take place on Thursday, September 18, at 6:30 p.m. in Laurel School’s cafeteria. The Parent Meeting Flier, Registration Form and PTA Waiver are available on Fanning Elementary School's website.

  • Brea Olinda Unified School District Earthquake Update

    3 years ago by

    BOUSD Earthquake update

      District staff and contractors have been busy over the past two days to get our sites ready for the safe return of students and staff tomorrow after the earthquakes on Friday night and aftershocks on Saturday.

        Unfortunately, we will need to close Fanning for all staff and students for Monday to continue to assess what will be required to reopen the campus. Most of Fanning campus will be closed through the rest of the week, although school will resume for all Fanning students on Tuesday. Fanning staff will be reporting to Arovista on Monday to develop instructional plans for the rest of the week, and possibly beyond. We have not determined where the Fanning students and staff will report on Tuesday, but we will get that information out as soon as we can.

          All other sites will open as usual on Monday.

            Due to the closure of Carbon Canyon road, we are also working on plans to transport the students living in Olinda Village and Hollydale to school on Monday. Notices will be going out to those families later today.

              Separate SchoolMessenger announcements have been sent to the Fanning staff and parents.

                Thank you for your understanding as we work diligently to prepare our schools for the safe return of students and staff on Monday. We still have a bit of cleaning to do, but we are confident that all sites except Fanning will be ready!

  • Celebrating 11 years of History Days in Brea

    5 years ago by

    For the past 11 years third grade students from Brea’s elementary schools celebrate History Days in Brea.  On May 23 and 24, BOUSD students will take a two-day field trip around town to learn about Brea’s history.

    With every significant project implemented, there is a story.  Over a decade ago, Mayor Don Schweitzer's eldest daughter, now in the second year of college, came home from her third grade class and told her dad that her teacher said they were going to learn about Brea’s history.  Don figured the teacher was going to take her students to our little history museum/store located where Guitar Center is now situated. So he contacted his daughter’s teacher and was surprised, when the teacher said she did not know Brea had a museum.  At that point, Don offered to take the children to the museum, the teacher agreed, word traveled, and all the third grade classes wanted to participate.  And so History Days in Brea began!

    Today it is a well organized event.  The two day event will consist of three busses per day taking students on a history tour to locations such as Craig Park and Brea Canyon.  They will also stop for 45 minutes at the Brea Museum, Brea Civic Center, and Olinda Oil Museum and Trail. Brea Olinda High School ASB students and museum staff will meet the children dressed up in historical garb wearing costumes such as oil workers, baseball players, school teachers and aviation workers. The kids enjoy the added effect of role playing while learning the story of Brea’s rich history. Over at the Civic Center, a mock council meeting is held to give the children an understanding of what goes on in a city council meeting.  Right down to needles and thread, everyone does a great job to add to History Days in Brea, as ASB students make the costumes needed for the occasion.

    One teacher’s idea, one person’s action and 11 years later, a wonderfully fun history lesson is given to area students!



  • Kiwanis Club of Brea 27th Annual Student Essay Contest Winners

    5 years ago by

    The Elementary School Kiwanis Club of Brea Essay winners.

    Essay contest: Catherine Houston and Dr Helene Cunningham, Mariposa Principal, co-hosted the Kiwanis Club of Brea 27th Annual Student Essay Contest.  The 2012 Essay Theme was "As President  of The United States, I Would..." and  embodied the characteristics of - Trustworthiness, Respect, Responsibility,  Fairness, Caring and Citizenship.
    The Essay winners were Saigen Torres (Arovista), Clara Kang (Country Hills), Makaila  Slife (Fanning), Nathan Hackman (Laurel), Iliana Rodriguez (Mariposa), Elaine  Lin (Olinda), Camille Wedin (Brea Jr HS) and Matthew Hernandez (BCHS). Each winner received a plaque. The best essay winner, Matthew Hernandez, also  received a $100 award...Congratulations to all!.
    Story by Susan Gaede

    Brea Canyon High/Brea Junior High winners: Mathew Hernanex- Cannon High and Carmille Wedin- Brea Jr. High