VACAVILLE — They arrived to a star-worthy welcome – red carpet, claps and cheers.
The 450 high school students from throughout the Vacaville School District filed off the half-dozen buses Tuesday in a wave of excitement as they looked forward to a morning away from school bells, books and tests.
Itzel Gallardo, 14, a Vacaville High School student, said she was looking forward to hanging out with friends “away from school instead of stressing over finals.”
The students, who will be followed by another 450 middle school students having their day Wednesday, were selected for the annual Vacaville Chamber of Commerce Gotcha event by their teachers and earned a few hours at Stars Recreation, the local entertainment center.
Students were recommended based on criteria such as improved grades, attendance and attitude, plus community service and being a good mentor, said Mark Creffield, the chamber’s president/CEO.
“A lot of people think it’s based on being a straight-A student, and it’s not,” Creffield said.
As the students filed in and began bowling or playing games, Creffield and others were out in the back area getting the gigantic multiple-pit barbecue started – at 9 a.m. The menu of the day was burgers, chips and soda. Food service for the hungry teens started immediately.
Inside, the din of the chatter and pins falling was just barely outdone by the music, complete with strobe lights adding ambience to the darkened facility. Students bowled, played games or sat and chatted with their friends. Gallardo and her friend, Hannah Doerfert, 15, also a Vacaville High student, made their way to the air hockey game as they waited for more of their friends to show up. This was Doerfert’s first time at the event and she was pleased.
“Yay, I was selected for something, ” she said, laughing. “It’s good to be recognized, especially in a big school.”
This is the 18th year the Chamber of Commerce, through its education committee, has hosted the event.
“I think it’s great we can reward kids for making positive changes in their lives,” Creffield said.
Reach Susan Winlow at 427-6955 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/swinlowdr.