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Technology Outreach Bus rolls out cutting edge
Participants in last summer’s kids’ camera camp that takes place aboard the Give Every Child a Chance Technology Outreach Bus in the Best Buy parking lot. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Manteca’s “Magic Bus” is not a salute to the rock-n-roll band The Who that popularized the song with that name.

Instead, it is the Give Every Child a Chance’s Technology Outreach Bus that opens the world of the Internet and computers to the young - and this summer - the old alike.

The bus is equipped with 10 laptop computers. Those computers - as well as the air conditioning - are run by solar power.

Free classes will take place on the bus while it is parked in the Best Buy parking lot at The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley at Union Road and the Highway 120 Bypass.

Classes take place on Tuesdays (today, June 15 & 22), Wednesdays (June 9, 16 & 23), and Thursdays (June 10, 17 & 24). Classes for senior citizens and adults are from 8:30 to 9:30 a.m. (Personal computer basics) and 9:45 to 10:45 a.m. (photo basics) each day. Classes for children featuring a kid’s camera camp are from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each day. The kids’ camera camp is open to those in the fourth grade and up.

Best Buy employees will be instructing the summer classes.

Then on July 8, 15, 22, and 29 the bus will be parked outside the Manteca Library on Poplar Avenue to offer free Internet safety classes to kids.

Sessions each day from 8:30 to 10:20 a.m. are for kids entering second and third grade; 10:15 to 11:45 a.m. for kids entering fourth and fifth grade; and noon to 1:30 p.m. for kids entering sixth and seventh grade.

Space is limited for the free programs.

To sign up for the free Best Buy sessions contact Kristina VanDePol at or call (209) 825-7003. For more information or to sign up for the free library session call Kristina at (209) 825-7003 or Ruthanne at (209) 456-6877.

During the school year, the bus travels to various elementary campuses within the Manteca Unified School District. Sets of 10 students at a time receive two weeks of 45-minute lessons after school to learn everything from keyboarding and safe Internet surfing to online manners.

Surveys of GECAC students and parents showed that 84 percent of them had little or no access to computers beyond school.

That by far doesn’t reflect the overall school population but it does underscore that the students who need computer knowledge the most to succeed - those struggling from low-income families - aren’t getting enough help to learn the technology that is becoming more and more essential not just to get an education but also to secure a job that can support a household.

The community-based GECAC is now serving over 2,000 students - many who are struggling in school - through six basic programs including one-on-one tutoring, homework assistance and after-school programs that have equal components of homework help, physical education and enrichment activities.

The Technology Outreach Program is a free program aimed at serving those in the first through fourth graders who have little or no access to computers.

An estimated 700 students access the bus each year throughout the Manteca Unified School District.

The sponsors for the bus are California Consumer Protection Foundation, Arvin Home Systems, Aram Solar, Kaiser Permanente, Verizon, United Way of San Joaquin County, Mountain Valley Express, Kraft 5, Manteca Trailer and Motorhome, and Manteca Unified School District.