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School's In - Numbers Down Slightly For EUSD Opening Day
From members of the Parents Club doing beautification work at Van Allen Elementary to district administrators flipping the burgers and hot dogs for an all staff luncheon, the last couple days of summer were big on preparation for the 2011-2012 school year.

Teachers stayed busy getting their classrooms in top shape, volunteers assisted with prepping the grounds at some sites and Friday saw the bulk of the district's staff, from teachers to support personnel, joining together for a luncheon and health faire at the high school.

District Superintendent Ron Costa said the barbeque was designed as a time of "food and fellowship" for employees, gathering for the informal session just ahead of the return to school.

Classes resumed Monday, Aug. 15 at all school sites.

"I was at all the school sites and things went smoothly overall," said Costa. "Total attendance was 2,750 and that was down by nine from the first day of last year."

Numbers always fluctuate the first couple weeks of school, and Costa is anticipating an upswing in the numbers over the next few days.

"Last year we increased steadily over the first 10 days," he noted.

Highest opening day enrollment was at Escalon High-Vista with 902 students recorded on Monday. El Portal Middle School was at 661, Dent Elementary at 630.

"Dent was down the most, they lost some to Van Allen because of the boundary change, Van Allen was up by 150 to 311," Costa said.

School trustees approved a change in district lines, more evenly splitting up the students between the in-town Dent campus and the rural Van Allen site to make more efficient use of space.

Farmington was also down slightly, with 110 students there on Monday and Collegeville was up slightly, to 129.

On Thursday, work was going full bore at Van Allen Elementary, with janitor Joe Coelho getting the parking lot cleaned and ready for the arrival of vehicles, and many Parents Club members on hand trimming bushes, doing some landscape maintenance.

Among them was Justina Percey, trimming back some roses and weeding out the various planters on the school site.

"We just want to help to get it going," she said of having the school year start off on a positive note. Young daughter Rose, 4, was also on hand but was more interested in eating a few snacks than helping with the work.

Son Stephen Percey, 7, was with his friend Nolan Reynolds, also 7, working on spreading the wood shavings around the playground equipment.

Both are going in to second grade and Reynolds said he was "not really" ready to get back to school, while Percey admitted to being "kind of" prepared for the year. They each said they enjoyed the summer.

"A lot of things," Percey noted of what he had fun doing. "My favorite thing was going to Pinecrest camping."

As far as school being back in session, young Percey has at least one goal in mind.

"I want to learn about comets. I don't know about them," he explained.

Reynolds said "swimming and riding my bike" were his favorite activities over the summer months.

Similar preparation efforts could be found on many campuses, with staff and volunteers pitching in to help create a smooth opening day.

Friday saw the district's administrative staff, coordinated by Superintendent Ron Costa and assistant superintendent Joel Johannsen, cooking up lunch for the masses.

The health faire set up in the performing arts center adjacent to the cafeteria featured several vendors, all there with information for staff, from the Sutter Health booth doing blood pressure and body fat checks to American Fidelity there with giveaway items and informational packets.

"It's information from the various health care policies, credit unions, Costco," Johannsen explained.

Upwards of 300 staff members were expected for the barbecue and Costa said it was all put on through donations, from vendors the school works with during the year in addition to community groups and some individuals.

"It was nice," Johannsen added. "A good will gesture of support from the community."

Sponsors included Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, John Largent, Diane Alcorn, C.T. Brayton, Oak Valley Bank, Hillier Ford, Terra Farms, Blodgett Catering, AALRR and CSM Consulting.