Rocklin students back to school

More than 10,000 enrolled in district for new year
By: Michael Althouse, The Placer Herald
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The first day of school in the Rocklin Unified School District arrived Tuesday complete with parents taking pictures, the apprehension of new students and returning students greeting old friends. At Rocklin Elementary, about 560 K-6 grade students managed to find the way to their classrooms with only minimal confusion, many with parents in tow. Rocklin Elementary Principal Jim Trimble said this year resembles years past. “Parents are crying and the kids are excited,” he said. “We’ve been getting ready for weeks.” Managing tasks as varied as making the morning announcements to mopping up a spill near the cafeteria, Trimble was kept busy all day. RUSD Superintendent Kevin Brown was also on hand as he made his rounds to the schools in the district. “Right now we have all of our staff in place. In the next few days we will determine where enrollment is heaviest. We will be working on balancing enrollment between the school,” he said, indicating the most impacted grades are K-3. Enrollment district-wide is approximately 10,350 students this year, Brown said. Until the new Sunset Ranch Elementary School is completed, Twin Oaks, Cobblestone and Valley View will be absorbing the elementary school students from the Whitney Ranch area, he said. RUSD Board President Steve Paul is anticipating another successful year. “Our preliminary test scores from last year are really good,” he said. Paul also noted that Sunset Ranch Elementary is under construction and is expected to be ready for use by 2010. As for the first day of a new school year, Paul said, “The kids are bouncing off the wall, excited about a new year and seeing all their friends.” Blayden Brown, a Rocklin Elementary third grader said he is “excited about going back to school.” His mother, DeLayna Brown, who said he “couldn’t sleep last night”, escorted Blayden to class. But first she turned her attention back to her son to take a picture. “Just one more and then I’m done,” she said. Second grader Tucker LaCaze is new to Rocklin and Rocklin Elementary. He just moved here from Los Angeles with his parents, Anthony and Paris LaCaze. “We heard the school here were great. It was one of the reasons we moved here,” his mother, Paris, said. “We’re looking forward to a new school year.” “And he’s looking forward to playing basketball,” said his father Anthony. Even the school’s crossing guard said she is excited about the start of a new school year. Nancy Cavanaugh has served as a crossing guard for three years but has taught at Rocklin Elementary for 20 years. “It’s always crowded for the first week of school,” she said. “We’re full and we’re big.” Rocklin Elementary is also home to the district’s Gifted and Talented Education (GATE) program, serving more than 150 students primarily from Rocklin, but also from other places in Northern California. Seven year-old Natalie King is in her second year as a Rocklin Elementary GATE third grade student. Although her mother Heather King escorted her to her first day, grandmother Nancy Pinkney will be responsible for getting Natalie to school most every other day. “With two working parents, it’s tough,” King said. “She goes to grandma’s house after school.” Right next door to Rocklin Elementary is its new neighbor, the Rocklin Academy charter school. Although the Rocklin Academy had offices and a Kindergarten class on site last year, most of the space it now occupies housed the Maria Montessori charter school previously. As Maria Montessori moved into its own facility, the Rocklin Academy expanded its curriculum at its “Meyers Campus” to fourth grade. Rocklin Academy Vice Principal Mary Decker expressed the same first day sentiments as Trimble and others. “It was so wonderful to see the excited students and parents. Our teachers have worked so hard to make this a memorable experience,” she said. Although the academy has its own classrooms for its approximately 110 students, it will share Rocklin Elementary’s multi-purpose room, library and computer lab. “We really appreciate the effort (Rocklin Elementary) has made,” Decker said.