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School Bells Usher In Start Of 2019-20 Year
Kindergarten teacher Jamie Peoples demonstrates some hand signals that she will use to communicate quietly with her class, the teacher and her new students getting to know each other on the first day of school. Marg Jackson/The Times

Principals served as crossing guards, some youngsters had difficulty letting their parents go and teachers were busy collecting lunch money.

Just another first day of school for the Escalon Unified School District.

Classes resumed for the start of the 2019-20 school year on Wednesday, Aug. 7 and overall, officials said there were no major hiccups.

“We had 2949 students (on opening day) and the number continues to rise each day,” said EUSD Superintendent Ron Costa. “The opening day went smoothly. Our biggest concern for start-up this year was Dent Elementary. With the construction of the new bus loading area and the new parking lot/drop off area, we were concerned about the flow of students, parents and traffic at drop off and pick up times.”

Costa pointed to the efforts of Principal Anthony Varni, Assistant Principal Robert Fyke and their staff, who he said “worked hard to make it as smooth as possible.”

Varni spent some time out in front of the Dent campus early morning Wednesday, serving as a crossing guard for the busy Yosemite Avenue route.

“Additionally, parents have been very understanding, patient and willing to work with the school thus far,” Costa said of everyone dealing with the construction and improvements going on at Dent.

Teachers lined up their students and everyone got to class, though there were some students that had trouble leaving their parents behind. Once inside, however, things seemed to settle down as teachers introduced themselves to students and offered some of the classroom rules.

In the kindergarten classroom of Jamie Peoples, students were eager to find the hooks with their names attached, to hang up their backpacks, and then settled in for a brief introduction.

Similar scenes played out at Collegeville, Farmington and Van Allen elementary schools, while classes also resumed at El Portal Middle School, Escalon High School and Vista High.

Van Allen and Dent have already had their ‘back to school’ night gatherings, while two more are on the schedule for this week. Escalon High School’s back to school event is Wednesday, Aug. 14 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. and El Portal Middle School will host its back to school night on Thursday, Aug. 15 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Farmington Elementary will offer back to school night on Monday, Aug. 19, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and Collegeville follows on Tuesday, Aug. 20 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Classes for students enrolled in Gateway Charter Academy start next month, with the charter relocating to the former Head Start complex on the Van Allen campus.

“It is my understanding that the Gateway parents like the new campus. They were on campus to pick up curriculum prior to the district’s first day of school,” Costa noted. “The first opportunity for students to come to classes on the new campus is September 9. Gateway is a home school so transportation is the parent’s responsibility. The school does offer weekly classes or enrichment classes for students who choose to attend but our teachers go out to each student’s residence and work with the student and parent.”