Diablo Elementary School was first started in connection with the Alternate Canal Locks project in the early 1940’s. It was located adjacent to nearby Panama City in the residential community of Diablo. The building complex consisted of two wooden and three newer concrete structures. When the school became part of the DoDDS system, changes to the school included a security fence surrounding the school grounds and a track oval and baseball diamond converted from an athletic field.
An area between the two concrete classroom buildings was made into a covered, concrete picnic area built around a tree. Additionally, benches were added to the area so students could enjoy lunch outside. A new ramp walkway connected the wooden building to the two concrete structures allowing students in wheelchairs access to all school areas. The wooden floor in the gymnasium was renewed.
The school enrollment from 1979 to 1990 went from 801 to 293. Students at the school were the dependents of the United States military personnel, Department of Defense civilian employees and other government agencies. Two percent of the school enrollment was tuition paying.
Parents were actively involved at the school. One program of note was the Diablo Reading at Home program called “The Reading Millionaires.” Parents recorded the time each student spent reading at home on a deposit sheet which was reported to the school. All minutes spent reading at home were accumulated in the school’s reading bank to reach the school’s goal of one million minutes.
Source: Schooling in the Panama Canal Zone 1904-1976, DoDDS Panama 1979-1989