Lodi School Bells Ring Out Again

Lodi School Bells Ring Out Again

Posted: Wednesday, August 1, 2018 8:30 am
By John Bays/News-Sentinel Staff Writer
As she walked her 5-year-old son Mario Lopez to his first day of kindergarten at George Washington Elementary School in Lodi Tuesday morning, mother Ludi Vasquez was confident that he would have the same positive experience as her older son, 9-year-old Christian Poanco, who is now in fourth grade.
“I’ve known this school for many years, and we really love this place,” Vasquez said. “I was a student here, so I’ve known this school all my life.”
Although Hector Ramos, another Washington alum, was proud to see his 5-year-old daughter Alyssa Ramos off to her own first day, he said he was a bit anxious as well.
“I’m worried because she might cry,” Hector said. “Nervous, too.”
Ingry Mendoza also had mixed feelings as she dropped off her own kindergartner, 5-year-old Micah Mendoza.
“It’s emotional and exciting at the same time,” Ingry said. “Good luck to all the kindergartners, and good luck to all the parents, too. This is a big step for the new generation of Lodi.”
Micah did not share his mother’s apprehensions and seemed eager to begin his first day of school.
“I feel good, I got this dinosaur shirt,” Micah said.
Dan Faith, principal of George Washington Elementary School, said his 524 students are already off to a good start this year and hopes to build upon the previous year’s success.
“We have a lot to celebrate,” Faith said. “We had a 10-percent gain in English-language arts on the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium (SBAC) test last year.”
Washington plans to expand its Millionaire Readers Club — made up of students who read 1 million words — which Faith said was started last year.
“We want to work on building that, getting kids to read for pleasure,” Faith said.
Faith is also excited to grow Washington’s Parent-Teacher Club, he said, and has plans to improve the Harvest Festival as well.
“It seems like everybody is really happy and excited to be back, I know I am,” Faith said. “This is my 30th year, and I’m still glad to be back.”
Erik Sandstrom, principal of Tokay High School, said the first day of school went equally well for his 2,143 students, including 593 freshmen.
“We pretty much hit the ground running today,” Sandstrom said. “We had very few students who had to have their schedules changed, so overall, it went pretty well.”
Construction will continue on Tokay’s athletic field, Sandstrom said, and the school has added a second-level engineering class to give students from last year’s class an opportunity to further their studies.
Tokay also hired a few new teachers, Sandstrom said, after a number of faculty members retired last year.
“There are a few new faces for our returning students, but with a freshman class of 593 there are a few new faces for the teachers, too,” Sandstrom said.
As she waited for her ride on Tuesday afternoon, 14-year-old Noemi Herrera said she enjoyed her first day as a freshman at Tokay and is looking forward to earning the best grades she can.
“I’m focused only on school,” Herrera said. “I’m excited to take French for the first time.”
Katie Blinett, another Tokay freshman, said she was most looking forward to driver’s education next quarter after her initial apprehension passed.
“I was a little nervous at first, but then it started to be fun,” Blinett said.
Freshman Nate Villareal, 14, said he also needed time to adjust to the differences between Tokay High and Millswood Middle School.
“It’s a lot bigger,” Villareal said. “It’s kind of confusing trying to find classes.”
Although he is still learning his way around campus, Villareal said he is looking forward to taking driver’s education as well as playing in the school band.
“I’m a self-taught bassist, and I want to learn more,” Villareal said.
Freelance photographer Cyndy Green contributed to this report.