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Old River School History

Old River Elementary was born out of a need to relieve neighboring elementary schools from a surge of people moving into Southwest Bakersfield in 2005-2006. The property had been secured a few years earlier and had been an open lot with a canal flowing through it. Prior to that, documentation shows that it was a peach orchard and the area had also been used for grazing animals. After the name, “Old River Elementary” had been chosen by the Board of Education, it was the founding staff and stakeholders responsibility to come up with the mascot, motto, school colors and song, forming the basis of a school culture that would become a friendly and vibrant learning community.


Steady progress was made on the infrastructure and construction of the school. Excitement built in the neighborhood and staff moved in. Old River Elementary opened its doors on the first day of school in August 2007. Each classroom and public space was filled with displays of hope and aspirations for our Wrangler community. Our motto, “Honest Words, Honest Actions, and an Honest Day's Work…American Values for the 21st century”, was prominently displayed on campus. Instead of individual classroom mascot names, staff decided that we would all be Wranglers and to the best of our ability, adults included, we would live up to our motto.

After about a month into our first school year, Old River Elementary and district office staff hosted a school dedication and celebration that was attended by all students, many parents, and local dignitaries such as Mayor Harvey Hall and other notable Kern County citizens. One of our 5th grade students rode a horse into the center of the celebration to mark the occasion. Within 3 years, Old River added nearly 400 students bringing our school enrollment close to 1000. A Special Education preschool was added, designed to be the best in the county and we successfully competed for a “California Distinguished School” award.

About one third of our staff made the choice of having their own children attend Old River Elementary. They were confident in the school's mindset and their colleagues abilities. One of the organizing thoughts of how we did and what we did was, “was it good enough for my child and if not what can we do that's better”, and that was applied to every student at Old River Elementary everyday in every area. The areas most impacted by this practice were curriculum, enrichment, safety, parental involvement, and the desire for people to feel comfortable and respected on our campus.


Founding Principal, Mike Boles retired from administration in 2020. He was succeeded by Kathy Josephson. Past and Present staff members continue to work hard in different areas of community to have best wishes for our Wranglers in the future.