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Two perfect STAR scores at August Knodt
August Knodt principal Debbie Forte gets a water balloon soaking during Friday’s STAR Testing rally. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
WESTON RANCH – For the second straight year, Laray Dacus posted a perfect score in the California Standards Test.

The August Knodt School fifth-grade student was joined Friday by classmate Sierra Rose for their efforts in the Standardized Testing and Reporting.

Both scored 600 in mathematics.

For that, Dacus and Rose also had the first crack at the Pitch Burst toss – a dunk tank alternative involving water balloons and made possible by the school’s Parent-Teachers Committee – at all three of the school’s STAR motivational assemblies.

“Our STAR testing begins next week,” said Principal Debbie Forte, who was also the No. 1 target for Pitch Burst. “We had this assembly to encourage improvement, if not, perfection, from our students.”

Students were eager to take their shot at the Pitch Burst toss. But only those who scored advanced, proficient, or showed improvement in the state exam were deemed eligible.

About 400 students earned that distinction.

“Last year, our (STAR) junior high scores were the best ever,” said Forte, who jokingly noted that their incentive toward improvement may have a chance to get their principal soaking wet.

She came prepared for getting drenched, sporting rain gear along with a baseball cap. Forte was pressed by students to get rid of both the poncho and raincoat.

Instead, she sat underneath the large water balloon, wearing a dark T-shirt with the message, ‘Raise the Bar.’

Forte hopes that raising the bar, in addition to inching towards the state’s goal of 800 for all public schools, will help the August Knodt maintain the perpetual STAR trophy involving the three kindergarten-through-eighth- grade Manteca Unified schools in the Weston Ranch community.

With a STAR score of 766, August Knodt, for the third straight year – and fifth time in six years – has claimed the award, beating out George Komure (751) and Great Valley (749).

At the first assembly – included were second- and third- graders – Forte managed to stay dry as a half-dozen students took their shots at the Pitch Burst.

It wasn’t until Titus Haley, who is a third-grade student, connected the ball with the release lever, thus, dropping the water balloon onto the head of the principal.

Forte along with Vice Principal Kathleen Stevens and those in the Leadership program used the three assemblies to keep students fired up and focused for STAR testing.

They’re looking forward to doing it again next year.

“We do this because it’s fun and it’s another way of motivating our students, particularly with the budget shortfall,” Forte said.