The arteries of Loomis flow black and gold

Del Oro High School an integral part of local life since 1959
By: Martha Garcia, Loomis News Editor
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From the time Del Oro High School opened in 1959, “everything in Loomis flowed through it,” said Ed Bonner, a graduate of the Loomis icon. To Bonner, who graduated from Del Oro in 1969, is Placer County’s sheriff and still lives in Loomis, the winning tradition and sportsmanship at the school, and the good character of its students, have “made the town feel good about itself.” The school was pivotal to Bonner’s development, he said, because “it helped mold me into the person I am today.” It goes beyond athletics, which he admits was a big part of his life at Del Oro. Just as important was the intellectual challenge, he said, as students were made to excel by teachers who told them, “Whatever you do, you do the best you can, you do well.” Bonner said two of his teachers were formidable: His father, Bob Bonner, and Jack Sanchez. His father, Bonner said, “was at the high school all the years I was there … I did get to play for him.” Bob Bonner retired in December 1989 and passed away in March 1990. A new gymnasium was dedicated in his honor in 2005. “We grew in a home where there were history books on the Civil War and the American Revolution,” he recalled. “All of our family had an inbred love for the history of this country. “ His father, he said, was instrumental in kindling that love. Sanchez, a track coach and English instructor, was a very “tough, challenging teacher,” Bonner said. Dan Gayaldo has been Del Oro’s principal only since July of this year, but he has spent two decades there as a teacher, coach, athletic director and vice principal and knows Del Oro and Loomis well. “Del Oro is a reflection of Loomis, and vice versa. We are one and the same,” he said. Both the town and the school possess qualities of loyalty, hard work and a willingness to help, he said, and each has a competitive spirit while holding on to good values. The school, he said, has a family tradition, as many current parents of Del Oro students are graduates themselves. The influence of Del Oro’s teachers, too, has a multi-generational influence. Charles Gardener has been a business teacher there since 1973. Jack Pchelkin has taught agriculture and welding since 1974. And just about all students have been taught English by Mark Hayward, who joined the staff in 1975 The relationship between Loomis Pizza Factory dates back to June 1987, when Maren and Eric Lombardi opened the restaurant. In January of this year, Steve and Debbie O’Neil joined them as co-owners. From the start, Pizza Factory has sponsored Del Oro teams and supported school events Maren Lombardi said. Not only have students been some of their best customers, through the years Pizza Factory has provided jobs to scores of Del Oro students. “I like the DO students because they’re awesome teenage … They’re well-rounded and friendly and intelligent,” Lombardi said. Bonner considers the relationship between the community and the Del Oro unique. “When we first played football … we played up on the practice field. It was the community that got together to build the stadium … that built the swimming pool.” Later, he said, the community built the tennis courts and the wonderful stadium. “It’s something most communities don’t do,” he said. Even though Del Oro is celebrating its golden anniversary this year, Bonner thinks the school is still in good shape. It is “very, very resilient, healthy and 50 years young,” he said. Editor’s Note: This is the last in a series of three stories on people and places whose influence on the community has earned them recognition as Loomis icons. This week: After 50 years of providing a secondary education to local youth, Del Oro High School’s influence can still be felt on the town and its citizens. To read about Main Drug, a Loomis mainstay for 65 years, go to To read about Taylor Road, a historic artery through Loomis, go to