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Vacation time ticking away for 23,000 Manteca students
Michael Appiano rides along the bowl at the Manteca Skate Park on Monday afternoon. Hell miss the first two days of the school year because of a family trip to Las Vegas. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

For professional baseball players the “dog days of summer” stretch out through the month of August.

It’s not quite the time of year when every single game matters, and the toll from the season combined with the scorching summer heat leads to a brutal fatigue.

That’s exactly what Alex Ortiz and nearly 23,000 other Manteca Unified students are dealing with right now.

The future Sierra High School student – who will officially be a freshman when school starts on Aug. 9 – is trying to fill his days with as many activities as possible to stave off the boredom that can run the otherwise exceptional feeling of having absolutely nothing to do.

Because after all – what kid actually looks forward to going back to school?

“It’s one of those things that you have to do, but I know that it’s going to be fun,” said Ortiz – who on Monday spent his time flying around the bowls of the Manteca Skate Park on his bicycle and hanging out with his girlfriend. “The days are starting to drag on – it’s kind of gotten to that point.

“It’s been hot so I’ve been staying inside in the AC a lot to beat the heat, but I’m looking forward to the learning experience. I’m looking forward to the mechanics class that I signed up for.”

Not everybody, however, is looking forward to heading back into the classroom.

While Ortiz is busy getting himself mentally prepared for an academic jump unlike anything he’s experienced, Shasta Elementary student Michael Appiano isn’t even going to be in class when it formally resumes.

He’ll be staring at the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip.

“It’s the last trip that my family’s going to take this summer, so I’m going to miss the first two days of school,” said Appiano in between sessions in Manteca’s concrete skate park. “We’re going to go down to Fremont Street – my whole family is going to be there.

“I really don’t think that summer is long enough. I spent a lot of time down here with my friends and went swimming over at my grandmother’s house a lot, and the days never got boring.”

Over at Library Park, where RJ Garcia dashed through the water with his brother Dominick, the warm temperatures seemed to have little to no effect on those busy taking advantage of the city-built water feature.

With roughly two weeks left in the summer break, RJ Garcia – who will be a fourth-grade student at New Haven Elementary – says that he’s getting to that point where he’s ready to go back to school but knows that he’ll miss the summer when he does.

“I got to go to the park a lot and I got to hang out with my friends,” said Garcia – who also hit Disneyland and played baseball in the time since school go out. “But I like reading too so I’m kind of looking forward to that.”

School begins at Manteca Unified campuses on Aug. 9 and Ripon Unified campuses on Aug. 7.