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Students Head Back To Class For Start Of 2022-23 Year
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Kindergarten teacher Taylor Wondowlowski, in shadow at left side, welcomes her new students to their classroom on the campus of Dent Elementary for opening day on Thursday, Aug. 11. Photo Courtesy Of Trish Russell

Across all campuses within the Escalon Unified School District, school bells rang out on Thursday morning, Aug. 11.

School was in session for the new year, the 2022-2023 edition, with students and teachers alike returning to classrooms with no masking requirements, no one-way arrows on school hallway floors to minimize student interaction. COVID-19 protocols that had been in place – originally in full force and then slowly scaling back – since early 2020 have been lifted, allowing for a more ‘normal’ start to the year.

A new District Superintendent, Ricardo Chavez is at the helm and the year also saw teachers at Dent, Van Allen, Collegeville and Farmington welcoming a new class of kindergarten students, starting their school careers.

At Dent Elementary, the scene was similar to that at the other campuses, with many parents accompanying their children to opening day. Some kindergarten and TK students greeted the day and the adventure with enthusiasm, while others were not quite sure they were ready to start the journey.

Classrooms were brightly colored, most with the names of students posted on the doors and teachers there to usher the students into class following a brief time on the playground before the bell rang. Parents with cameras or cell phones were in evidence, as is tradition for the first day, and there were also a few tearful moments among all the excitement.

Several new teachers have joined the Escalon Unified School District for the year as well, at all levels, elementary through high school.

New elementary teachers are, in alphabetical order: Cintia Calderon, Collegeville; Yarissa Cruz, Dent; Lynn Elisea Ayala, Collegeville/Farmington; Joie Montgomery, Dent; Renee Taro, Dent; Taylor Webb Thomas, Van Allen; Sydney Wheeler, Van Allen.

Secondary teachers new to the district this year, in alphabetical order, are: Cassandra Babb, El Portal; Caitlin Brooks, Escalon High School; Brainer Eisaei Alikomi, EHS; Gino Franceschetti, El Portal; Jordana Green, El Portal; Jennifer James, EHS; Jordon Kearby, EHS; Jordan Nunes, El Portal; Christina Orlando, El Portal; Rachel Pimentel, EHS; Kaitlynn Spani, El Portal; Taylor Thatcher, EHS; John Yonke, EHS.

Other new hires include District Psychologists Gianna Genetti and Alex Richardson along with EHS counselors Geonna Peterson and Rachel Strmiska.

The administrative teams at the various sites include: Collegeville and Farmington Elementary Schools, Dr. George Megenney, principal; Dent Elementary, Anthony Varni, principal and Robert Fyke, assistant principal; Van Allen Elementary, Julio Zambrano, principal; El Portal Middle School, Mike Gaston, principal and Kayla Jefferson, assistant principal; Escalon Charter Academy, Joel Johannsen, principal; Vista High School, Gustavo Arzac, principal; Escalon High School, Jason Furtado, principal and Daniel Taylor, assistant principal.

The opening day reportedly went smoothly throughout the district, with the first full week of school now underway.

Transitional Kindergarten, TK, student Payton Doom isn’t quite sure she is ready to let go and head to class at Dent Elementary, as all Escalon Unified School District campuses saw students, teachers, administrators and support staff return on Thursday, Aug. 11. Photo Courtesy Of Trish Russell
Second grade students and parents were finding their new classroom and teacher, Jayme Lueck, during the Aug. 11 opening day of school at Dent Elementary. Photo Courtesy Of Trish Russell