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Ceres school year off to smooth start
There were a lot of Ceres mothers and fathers sharing tender moments and tears Wednesday morning with their kindergartners heading off to school for the first time.

"I'm actually more nervous than her," admitted Jennie Schultz as her daughter Madeline Schultz was waiting outside the classroom door.

Her teacher, Lisa Banister, greeted each student at the door with a welcome and a handshake or hug. It was a strategic move, too, to encourage some weepy-eyed parents to leave their children at the door rather than move inside and delay the departure process.

"The first week went well, very smooth," reported Ceres Unified School District Supt. Scott Siegel.

Final student enrollment numbers for the first week were still being crunched but Siegel said it looks like more students are attending than ever in the history of the district. Last year at this time, CUSD had an enrollment of 12,190 students.

"We had to add a fifth grade class at Sam Vaughn and added a few sessions at Ceres High School," said Siegel. "Our K-12 numbers are higher than projected.

"We're much happier to have our enrollment going up instead of going down."

Opening week was marred, however, when a 14-year-old Ceres High School sophomore was struck by a southbound car while crossing Central Avenue after school on Thursday. The 30 to 35 mph impact of the car caused the girl to smash the front of the car, fly up over the hood, and hit the windshield. The driver, who fled the scene of the 2:56 p.m. crash, was later arrested and charged with felony hit and run. Police identified him as Vuthy Eang, 22.

Traffic Officer Jason Coley said the girl was not using a crosswalk at the time and highly advised all students to use them as well as exercise caution in crossing any street.

The girl was released from the hospital where she was treated for cuts, bumps and bruises.

"We feel very fortunate that it wasn't worse," said Supt. Siegel.