FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
Travis 1st day of school 8_20_14

Golden West Middle School seventh-grader Aaress Huff gets off the bus on the fist day of school, Wednesday. It was the first day of school for Travis Unified School District, which also includes Vanden High as well as Travis, Scandia, Foxboro, Center and Cambridge Elementary Schools. (Robinson Kuntz/Daily Republic)

Education

First day back to school brings laughter, jitters

By From page A1 | August 21, 2014

FAIRFIELD — The wait to enter Golden West Middle School on Wednesday featured youngsters laughing and greeting each other with hugs. It looked as if it had been years since the kids saw each other, rather than a few short months of summer.

Beth Tumulak sat in her SUV with her video camera trained on her daughter, Kristin, an eighth-grader.

“She was so excited last night that she couldn’t sleep,” Tumulak said. “I put her to bed at 9 p.m. and she was up early. She just couldn’t sleep.”

All Travis School District campuses began the 2014-15 year Wednesday, opening a week after the Fairfield-Suisun and Rio Vista schools and six days after the Vacaville School District.

Kristin was excited about seeing her friends again.

“I missed seeing them over the summer,” Kristin said. “It’s good to be back.”

This year is going to be a little different: She is in drumline and looking forward to it because band is where she said she can express herself the best.

Her mother thinks the summer was far too short, but hopes her daughter’s new school year is a great one.

Kekoa Lonso will celebrate his 12th birthday at school Thursday. He said that his birthday falls on the first days of school every year, but he looks at it like a gift to be able to visit his friends again. He still is a bit uneasy about the new school year.

“I’m nervous. This is a new school for me,” Kekoa said. “I have multiple teachers this year, which is different from elementary school.”

He wasn’t too sure which class he would like best, but said it was going to be more work than he is used to. He said he does look forward to band, where he plays the clarinet.

Brian Deter, a seventh-grade math teacher, had a nice summer with his two children but was looking forward to his 26th school year.

“It’s great because the students bring so much energy to the classroom,” Deter said.

This year he plans to integrate more technology into his teaching curriculum, along with new math books.

“I want to use Instagram and a few newer programs with the schoolwork,” he said.

Social science and history teacher Anne Castro will work with new materials this year and looks forward to using the Kagan Structure again in class.

“It is a way for students to learn from students. We teach the content in the classroom, then students talk about that among themselves in class,” she said. “The teaching time is very short. It helps them retain the information better because it keeps them engaged.”

Summer Evans stood with her daughter Sameerah, a seventh-grader, waiting for the school to open.

“I’m very excited to see her venture on as she gets older,” Summer Evans said. “She is in gymnastics and is really learning a lot about how to balance her time between school and training. Someday, she hopes to compete professionally.”

After the ring of the bell, 872 students rushed to their new classrooms.

Principal Jackie Tretten said she wants parents and students to feel that the school is like an extended family.

“We want to do our best for the kids,” Tretten said.

The school has provided supplies for each student so the parents don’t have to be burdened with that extra bit of stress. The Golden West PTA, which is affiliated with the PTA of California Congress of Parents Teachers and Students Inc., is also sponsoring a supply drive for school supplies if parents want to donate school classroom items.

“I have provided the supplies from out of the budget, so that every kid has what they need,” Tretten said. “In this way, it levels the playing field for everyone but sometimes parents want to donate supplies.”

In addition to providing supplies, teachers work together planning projects so that no big project due date overlaps another large project.

“The students don’t need hours of homework every night,” Tretten said. “They are in school for six hours.”

“Every year my goal is for students to be successful,” she said. “We want to give them what they need to become better people and to enrich there lives.”

Reach Susan Hiland at 427-6981 or [email protected]

Susan Hiland

Susan Hiland

Susan graduated from Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon with a B.A. in Communications. She has eight years experience working for newspapers in Nebraska.
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