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Nile Garden breaks 800; ex-principal loses his hair
pic cook-1
Joe Cook, the retired principal at Nile Garden School, makes good on his word Friday by promising to shave his hair if his old school exceeded 800 in the Academic Performance Index of the state’s Standardized Testing And Reporting. His wife, LeeAnna, had the honors of shearing off Cook’s hair during the all-school assembly after Nile Garden scored 815 in the API. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
Debbie Noceti says she’s never dyed her hair.

But the first-year principal at Nile Garden School is willing to do just that if her second- through- eighth- grade students score at least 830 in the Academic Performance Index of the upcoming Standardized Testing And Reporting.

The school, after coming close in recent years to 800 – that’s the target for all public schools as established by the state Department of Education – broke through by tallying 815 when the results were released several weeks ago.

In turn, Nile Garden became one of six schools in Manteca Unified to exceed 800, joining New Haven (831), Brock Elliott (825), McParland (823), Veritas (816), and Stella Brockman (808).

Noceti, who was vice principal at the school for the last seven years, took up the challenge posed to her by Joe Cook, the retired Nile Garden principal.

“I’ll dye my hair green,” she said.

The STAR exams are scheduled for April.

Cook made good on his promise by having his hair shaved off during the all-school gathering on Friday. Superintendent Jason Messer had the honors of applying the first swipe with the electric razor.

“Last spring before testing, I wore a bald cap from Halloween with ‘800’ to encourage the students,” Cook said.

His last hair cut was during the summer.

But Cook’s wife, LeeAnna, made a case of replacing his regular barber by finishing the job started by Messer.

“This is my first time cutting his hair,” she said.

Joe Cook, who was the longtime principal at Nile Garden, has been enjoying his retirement.

For the past several months, he’s been fishing, going to Montana, officiating soccer games, and getting involved in the various soccer leagues.

“I’ve been really busy,” Cook said.