RCHS 50th
May 23, 2019
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The Ranch, a community cozily enclosed in RP

By: Jud Snyder
October 21, 2016

Most people realize a high school is a community all to itself. Oh sure, we’ve got elementary schools thronged with little folks picking up A-B-C essentials and middle schools thronged with older little folks picking up the needed essentials of boy-girl relationships with a lot more mannerisms emphasized every day.

But a high school’s thronged with older little folk who have already picked up their A-B-Cs and the essentials of boy-girl relationships plus manners. At least that’s their claim. Every high school has a team of consultants (also called counselors) and advisers who can easily spot faults in teen self-management. They even may have an Officer Friendly roaming the campus dispensing streetwise advice, consolation and not always gentle warnings.


YES, IT WAS OFFICER Friendly, Larry Jones, who got a middle school named after him (a dignified Lawrence Jones), but he earned his title at RCHS and the school district gratefully accepted his high school accomplishments in the transfer. But we’re getting ahead of our story.

There was only Rohnert Park Junior High School and a few elementary schools in A Section before the realization set in this new city needed a high school and cease sending middle school kids to Petaluma High School, eight miles down the new freeway.

Negotiations took more than a year before the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District became an entity within the Sonoma County School District system.


PARENTS ARE QUITE interested in what happens at The Ranch, a shorter nickname for the two-word official name and one best known for sports fans. For the Cougars (their official feline designation) football team has always been the highlight of the sports pages in daily newspapers.

When the Guanella Bros. championship fast-pitch softball team and then the Class A baseball team, the Redwood Pioneers played games in the RP Stadium, they found tough competition for fan devotion when the Cougars were afield at the same time on their own field.

Changes in prep sports from Title Nine rules prompted the rapid growth of girls sports at The Ranch. They registered brilliant successes in softball, basketball, swimming, track and field and golf to earn coverage on daily newspapers and TV screens.


RANCHO COTATE HIGH School has a favorable role in the community and it’s not merely because of its teaching staff. They offer good salaries and well-tuned benefits to attract top quality teachers.

When you’re out of high school and either working or attending college, your high school days tend to vanish quite quickly. For some reason, my high school days still have their vivid points.

It’s June 1943, eons ago, and four senior boys in white dinner jackets are gathered around a telephone pole after depositing our dates in their homes. It’s almost 11 p.m. and we’re wondering ourselves what was next just as seniors today are doing. Farmingdale, Long Island was a tense community those days. Grumman Aircraft and Seversky (later called Republic) Aircraft were nearby and listed as possible attacks by Japanese bombers from offshore carriers.

Teams of senior boys and girls were posted on school rooftops and equipped with binoculars. It was our job to sweep the skies and try to spot Japanese bombers on their way to Grumman or Republic. The Japanese were conquering many islands in the Pacific and we were part of the Atlantic coastal defenses those days.

The guys under a telephone pole light wondered about the draft, good jobs with the Post Office, or what to do. I had already decided – join the U.S. Navy like my father did in 1916. I lost track of the other guys.

RCHS seniors are facing more complex situations these days. The Internet has brought about many changes that four guys in white dinner jackets leaning against a telephone poll at 11 p.m. had to face. But the basics remain and seniors at The Ranch today will always have the RCHS campus community as a part of their entire life.