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Parent raising money for more security cameras
Some of the Lathrop School parents who have banded together to help raise enough money to complete the installation of surveillance cameras around the school campus stand in front one of the signs advertising their upcoming fund-raising event. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

• WHAT: Lathrop School Spring King and Queen Fiesta & Mexican-American buffet
• WHERE: School gym, corner of Fifth and O streets, Lathrop
• WHEN: Saturday, March 16, from noon to 6 p.m.
• TICKETS: $1 apiece or six for $5
• FOR TICKETS: Call the school at (209) 858-7250, or ask any parent

LATHROP – Education is a top priority for parents of students attending Lathrop Elementary School. But so is the safety of their young ones when they are on campus.

It is that desire to provide a safe haven at the place where the youngsters are learning the rudiments of education which is mobilizing all parents to raise the money needed to complete the installation of surveillance cameras on campus. Most of the cameras are already installed, thanks to a $40,000 grant that the school received. However, about $27,000 more is needed to complete the project.

But the parents are not even waiting for another grant to come by or to be secured to have all the security cameras put in place. They are putting into action brains and brawn, securing donations, and every available means at their disposal to raise the remaining amount. At the school’s Christmas program, they conducted a tamales fund-raiser which raised a thousand dollars. Now, they are investing some of that to try and raise at least $10,000 in the form of a community fund-raiser called Spring King and Queen Fiesta – El Rey y la Reina de la Primavera.

“This is for the safety of our kids,” said Gloria Rodriguez who was one of the parents who designed the banners posted around the school announcing the spring food fiesta.

“We got scared and we don’t want that to happen to any of our kids,” added Rosalinda Valencia, referring to one of the apparent security breaches that happened at the school last year. That was when a student was accosted while in the bathroom by a man who was an outsider. The man, who was not apprehended, reported exposed himself to the scared student.

That incident, though, did not happen during the normal school hours but during one of the after-school events being held at the school. Among the after-school programs being held at the school are Give Every Child a Chance tutoring, Boys and Girls Club activities, and the city’s Kids Club, a program normally held at the Community Center except when it was being renovated.

The“school-safety fund-raiser” is a Mexican-American Buffet Experience taking place Saturday, March 16, in the school gymnasium from noon to 6 p.m. The gym or multi-purpose room is located on the southwest corner of Fifth Street and O Street next to the school. The tickets, which are a buck apiece or six for $5, are not exactly selling like hot tamales – yet. But the parents are hoping that with the help of some publicity, the community will generously respond to their efforts. Stop by the school at Fifth Street between O and Thomsen streets during regular school hours to purchase the tickets. Or if you know any of the parents or even the students, you can obtain the tickets that way, too.

The school telephone number is (209) 858-7250 if you have any questions about the tickets.

A group of more than 20 parents are spearheading the fund-raising effort. They have been meeting regularly in the school cafeteria to hammer out everything that needs to be done for the big event.

Mary Zaragoza, a member of the core group, said the fund-raiser will not be just a gastronomical experience. To further drum up participation and to build up the excitement to the day of the event, each grade will have its own Spring King and Queen Fiesta with the titles going to the student in the class who raises the most number of tickets.

They are also trying to drum up donations from parents of students, businesses in Lathrop and Manteca, as well as city officials.

“We’re asking parents to bring donations such as plates for the event – anything. If they don’t have anything to donate, we’re asking parents to help us prepare the food and serve the food the day of the event,” Zaragoza said.

They will gladly accept any additional donations as well on top of the cost for tickets, she said.