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23,500 students return to school
Students from teacher John Heaths first grade class wave to fellow students as they get a campus tour on Thursday at Nile Garden School. - photo by HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin

The first day of school at Manteca Unified was Thursday.

Some 23,500 students hit the classrooms.

For kindergarteners, this marked a memorable time in their young life. They started classes promptly at 9 a.m. at Lincoln Elementary School.

“I had one student who picked up his backpack and was ready to leave at 9:05,” recalled Tracy Barbieri, who teaches traditional kindergarten or TK at Lincoln.

This is the class for youngsters with September through October birthdays.

The TK session concludes at 12:30 p.m.

Upon realizing the day of instruction ahead, the teacher noted that same youngster said: “We have (to stay this long) every day?”

As usual, there were a few tears shed early on. “We had one who cried for maybe two minutes – not much crying other than that,” said Michelle Cabreros.

She and Barbieri worked in partnership, sharing the kindergarten class prior to this year. However, these two longtime teachers believed a change was necessary given the implementation of Common Core State Standards.

Common Cores focuses on developing the critical-thinking, problem-solving and analytical skills necessary for students to be successful. The guidelines in math and English language are consistent, from kindergarten through 12th grade.

Barbieri and Cebreros approached Principal Steve Anderson, requesting and getting an extended day for kindergarten. “There just wasn’t enough time in the day,” Barbieri said.

Instead of 12:40 p.m., the two regular kindergarten classes at Lincoln will go an hour later or 1:40 and with a lunch period. Those who need the extra help can stay until 2:40.

Anderson, who is in his third year as principal at the school – prior to that, he was at Neil Hafley Elementary School for 13 years – indicated that the first day of the new school year was “like a field trip,” he said.

Barbieri added that the second day of school is usually tougher on kindergarteners than that first day.

Meanwhile, Anderson will see his campus go through a remodel in the coming months. Included will be classroom shuffling that will take place during construction of this historic school site built in 1947.