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Bus delivers free technology classes next week
Tyler Gales used his camera to take close up photos of flowers outside the Technology Outreach Bus this past summer. - photo by HIME ROMERO


• WHAT: Free technology classes
• WHEN: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday
• WHERE: Technology Outreach Bus in Best Buy parking lot
• COST: Free
• SIGN-UP: To secure space contact Kristina VanDePol at or call 825-7003

Manteca’s “Magic Bus” is pulling into the Best Buy parking lot next Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday to open the world of Internet, computers and even cell phones to the young and old alike.

The Give Every Child a Chance’s Technology Outreach Bus is equipped with 10 laptop computers. Those computers - as well as the air conditioning - are run by solar power.

Free classes will take place on the bus while it is parked in the Best Buy parking lot at The Promenade Shops at Orchard valley at Union Road and the Highway 120 Bypass. The first two sessions each day are designed for senior citizens and adults while the third class is reserved for kids.

Classes taking place on Tuesday, March 15 are:

•8:30 to 9:30 a.m., personal computer (PC) basics camp

•9:45 to 10:45 a.m. photo basics

•11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. kids’ camera camp for fourth graders and up.

Classes taking place on Wednesday, March 16, are:

•8:30 to 9:30 a.m. PC basics camp

•9:45 to 10:15 a.m. social networking

•11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. kids camera camp for fourth graders and up

Classes taking place on Thursday, March 17, are:

•8:30 to 9:30 a.m. PC basics camp

•9:45 to 10:45 a.m. cell phone basics

•11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Kids camera camp for fourth graders and up

The kids’ camera camp is open to those in the fourth grade and up.

Best Buy employees will be instructing the summer classes.

Space is limited for the free programs.

To sign up for the free Best Buy sessions contact Kristina VanDePol at or call (209) 825-7003.

During the school year, the bus travels to various elementary campuses within the Manteca Unified School District. Sets of 10 students at a time receive two weeks of 45-minute lessons after school to learn everything from keyboarding and safe Internet surfing to mannerisms on line.

Surveys of GECAC students and parents showed that 84 percent of them had little or no access to computers beyond school.

That by far doesn’t reflect the overall school population but it does underscore that the students who need computer knowledge the most to succeed - those struggling from low-income families - aren’t getting enough help to learn the technology that is becoming more and more essential not just to get an education but also to secure a job that can support a household.

The community-based GECAC is now serving over 4,000 students - many who are struggling in school - through six basic programs including one-on-one tutoring, homework assistance and after school programs that have equal components of homework help, physical education and enrichment activities.

The Technology Outreach Program is a free program aimed at serving those in the first through fourth graders who have little or no access to computers.

An estimated 700 students access the bus each year throughout the Manteca Unified School District.

The sponsors for the bus are California Consumer Protection Foundation, Arvin Home Systems, Aram Solar, Kaiser Permanente, Verizon, United Way of San Joaquin County, Mountain Valley Express, Kraft 5, Manteca Trailer and Motorhome, and Manteca Unified School District.