In our yearly roundup of perfect places to raise kids, we salute these communities for their affordable homes, green spaces, blue-ribbon schools, and giving spirit.
By Seema Nayyar
Median Income: $76,569
Median Home Price: $387,000
Households with Children: 36%
Student/Teacher Ratio: 26:1
Great Schools Rating: 9
Nestled in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains 30 miles east of Los Angeles, La Verne has abundant hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding trails. At Heritage Park, residents not only enjoy summer concerts but can also pick oranges in historic citrus groves. "You're with family and friends, out in the sun and having fun—what's not to like?" says Lynn Del Toro, 54.
Husband George, 55, who manages a local water municipality, thinks of La Verne as a cozy little village. "The best thing about living here is the friendships we've built," he says. The couple, along with son Lucas, 15, and daughter Noel, 11, go on vacation with neighbors and spend holidays with families from the kids' schools. La Verne's teachers go all out for their students. Lucas' high school freshman class, for example, didn't just read Homer's Odyssey. "They acted out scenes in our city pool on a floating stage made of recyclable 2-liter soda bottles and set the whole thing to 1980s music as part of a cross-curriculum English, science, and social studies project," says George. "That's a production no one will forget!"
Good Deeds: Kids of all ages put in hundreds of hours every year doing fundraising and volunteer activities. At Oak Mesa Elementary School, students made 100 blankets for two area hospitals, while students at Bonita High raised $3,000 for Haiti relief by collecting donations on campus and at basketball games.