Parking around Sinclear Elementary School was packed on Wednesday morning, Sept. 16, because parents of about half of the student body showed up for class as part of the fifth annual "Bring Your Parent to School Day."
Principal Connie Stark said the idea behind the morning event was to allow parents, aunt and uncles and grandparents of the approximately 685 students to "see what's really going on at school." The event spun off of the "Bring your child to work day" concept.
"There isn't a parent who isn't thrilled this is happening, especially this year with the Chromebooks," said Stark. "They're saying ‘we want to see what our kids are learning because Common Core is different. They're dissecting the math problems a little differently than we did. It's the same outcome; the dissection is just a little different so when the kids go home and show their parents it looks a little different."
Kristella Zambrano visited the first grade classroom of her son, Cesar Zambrano, 7, and enjoyed seeing how the computer tablets were used.
"I like the tablets a lot," said Zambrano. "That's what they were working with when I got here. At first I was really hesitant about it but, yeah, I like it. It seems like they interact a lot more with it."
Stark said use of the tablets has been "pretty positive."
"The growth that staff and the students have made in the last six weeks since we opened, you know, from no Chromebooks to six weeks later, they've made an amazing amount of growth," said Stark.
No other school district in Stanislaus County has deployed devices for all students at one time.
Approximately 50 to 65 percent of the students had a parent at school for the day.
She also hears comments like: "It was a lot different when I was in school" and "Wish I had paid attention then, I'd know more today."
"It's just the realization of how important school is," said Stark, "and what the amount of learning kids do each and every day. They're realizing that during the school day there's a lot that goes on and they see what their kids miss out when they're late for school or when they're not here."
A bonus for parents was seeing their kids interact with their friends.
Stark said most of the parents - many dads - who attended had to take time off from work to tag along with their child.
"A lot of dads take the day off to come. Normally helping in the classroom we see a lot of moms and it's really nice because we see a lot more dads coming and that's been characteristic for a number of years."
One of the dads who did show up was Shanon Stroud, who took the day off from work at Gallo Winery to shadow his son Kaden.
"I've done this the last couple of years and it's good to see what your kid's doing, especially now that they all have the Chromebooks and seeing how they use those," said Stroud. "It seems to be working really well at home."
Teachers were instructed to do everything the same and not put on a dog and pony show. She said five years ago when the idea was presented, teachers were full of anxiety but now like the event.
Parents also had the option to eat a school lunch if they signed up ahead of time.
Dovetailing on the event was a celebration of the 10th anniversary of the opening of the school. Stark, who has been in education for 36 years, has been principal of the school since the start. She likes her job but thinks she might retire in two or three years.
Since opening Sinclear was named a California Distinguished School and the federal Title I Academic Achieving School.
Sinclear was the first of five new elementary schools that opened under Supt. Walt Hanline's leadership. The others that followed were Berryhill, Adkison, Hidahl and La Rosa.
On hand for the event was Stan Sinclear, the namesake for the school along with his father, the late Dale Sinclear.
"It's been amazing and it's been a tremendous honor," said Sinclear, who as a member of the Ceres Lions Club visits the campus for a presentation to third-graders on flag history and etiquette.
"It's hard to believe this fantastic school has been around for 10 years because I don't have one more wrinkle, do I?" Stark told her student body during the celebration.