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Sequoia perfect attendance goes from 25 to 210
Eighth grader Jesus Gomez was among those who were able to participate in a pizza party hosted by the Manteca Costco to reward those with perfect attendance last week. - photo by DENNIS WYATT
Perfect attendance at Sequoia School in Central Manteca has gone up eight-fold in one year.

It is the end result of a concerted effort between staff, parents, and the community to improve student performance at the kindergarten through eighth grade campus.

One of those community partners is the Manteca Costco.

Not only does every student each quarter who has perfect attendance get a free pizza and punch party provided by Costco, but the membership wholesale warehouse also give over 500 backpacks to students at the start of the school year.

“Costco always adopts a school in the communities they serve,” said Costco marketing event coordinator Susan Somers. “Usually we adopt a different school each year but the need is so great at Sequoia we decided to adopt them permanently.”

Lest you think it just took punch and pizza from Costco to encourage kids to make it to school every day, Principal Lisa Herrin points out it is much more than that.

Herrin noted the fact that adults in the community besides their parents take an interest in their education leaves students with a big impression.

“They (the Costco volunteers) emphasize how important it is to make sure you are at a job every day and on time,” said Herrin.

And just like if you don’t show up for jobs you don’t earn money, students who don’t show up every day don’t learn as effectively.

“We’ve made great strides at Sequoia School over the last seven years,” Herrin said.

Sequoia School, that was once among the elementary campuses in Manteca Unified that struggled with the Academic Performance Index tests, increased 18 points in the most recent testing and is at 767. It is moving toward the 800 target for performance. Only four schools in Manteca Unified- Veritas, Nile Garden, Brock Elliott, and McParland - reached or surpassed that bench mark in the latest testing.

Somers noted at the last pizza party they had in the 2009-10 school year there were 25 students who made the grade with perfect attendance. Last week there were 210 students with perfect attendance.

Lorraine Luna, who has worked at Sequoia School for six years and helps oversee attendance, said the Costco pizza party gives students something to aim for.

The parents club also collects gift cards that are awarded via raffle tickets given to those with perfect attendance.