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First Day Smooth Sailing
The first day of school for these kindergartners at Dent Elementary started out with an activity using a cup of Play-Doh to get their creative juices flowing as they begin their academic careers. - photo by VIRGINIA STILL/THE TIMES

It may not have been ideal, what with some hallways closed off due to continuing construction at the high school, but opening day for classes throughout the Escalon Unified School District went off pretty well on Aug.13.

“Opening day went very smooth,” noted District Superintendent Ron Costa. “I am hearing a lot of positives from students and staff at all campuses.”

Those positives ranged from maintenance and improvement work conducted over the summer at the various sites, the addition of new staff and, in many cases, new (or shuffled) administrators at many locations.

“Even at the high school where there was construction and students had to learn how to get around with construction in the middle of campus, there hasn’t been much negative,” Costa said.

As far as attendance, numbers tend to fluctuate for the first couple of weeks as new students enter the district, those that perhaps did not attend kindergarten registration earlier in the summer show up or there are students moving out of the district.

“Numbers are pretty consistent with last year,” Costa said of the earliest attendance reports for the first few days of school. “We have lost a few students on the district side but we have gained some on the charter school side.”

Escalon currently offers its Charter School in two parts.

“One is the classroom-school based and we have about 100 kids in that charter school with classrooms at Dent, Collegeville and El Portal,” Costa explained. “For the homeschool portion of our Charter School, we are in our second year with that and that is housed at Dent.”

Students primarily work at home in that portion of the Charter School program but do have ‘classroom’ time for special projects and classes taught by visiting teachers at the Dent site.

“We have 52 kids in the homeschool charter, that one is growing,” Costa added.

Many schools in the district have already hosted their Back to School nights, with El Portal Middle School’s coming up tomorrow night, Thursday, Aug. 21 and the high school one slated for next week.

“Everything seems to be going good,” Costa said of starting 2014-15 off well. “I talked to all the principals, even though we have three new site principals, things are running smoothly at all campuses right now.”

Former Escalon High School assistant principal Talmage Allen has taken over as principal at Van Allen Elementary; Anna Ellerson is the new principal for Collegeville and Farmington elementary schools, and was previously the assistant principal at Dent. Anthony Varni is the new Dent principal and Matt Loretelli has moved from his high school teaching position to become the assistant principal at Dent.