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Summer ending for over 12,000 students
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Wednesday, Aug. 14 spells the official end of summer for an estimated 12,000 students who are expected to be starting or returning back to school in Ceres.

As students rested and played over the summer, Ceres Unified School District has been preparing a number of campus improvements.

CUSD will be opening the doors to Lucas Elementary School this year for the first time ever. The campus, located at 3500 Rose Avenue just west of Mitchell Road, will serve as the district's inaugural 50/50 dual immersion language program. The school is starting the program with four full kindergarten and first-grade classes where students will be taught in both English and Spanish.

For the first time ever in Ceres, roughly a third of the 180 students expected at Lucas the first year will consist of Spanish speakers who will be instructed in English half the time and Spanish the other half. A third of the students will be from English speaking households who will receive split instruction in Spanish and English. The other third will be from households where both languages are used. The program is intended to produce high-achieving bilingual students who have a greater appreciation for the other culture and language, less chance of dropping out and a higher interest in college.

Interest in the program was slow at first, prompting CUSD to advertise for students outside district boundaries through inter-district transfers. However, the program is filled with the desired number of students.

CUSD Supt. Scott Siegel said even though the classes are filled he encourages parents to apply in case there are students who leave or who are withdrawn.

The biggest physical project of the summer has been improvements to Caswell Elementary School, which is "tore up right now," said Siegel. The school's parking lot has been expanded and resurfaced and portables are being moved to make way for two new buildings.

The district received matching funds from the state to complete phase one of the Caswell Elementary modernization. The $6.2 million project, which consists of constructing a two-building 10-classroom addition, will be completed by March at the earliest.

The kitchen at Walter White Elementary School was replaced over the summer thanks to $500,000 funded through child nutrition.

Not ready for opening this year are the Walt Hanline and Patricia Beaver elementary schools, both located on South Central Avenue.

Beaver Elementary, a $22.7 million campus being constructed north of Grayson Road, will open in August 2014.

Hanline Elementary is costing $21.6 million and will be completed no later than 2015-16. The school is being built next to Central Valley High School on South Central Avenue just south of Service Road.

CUSD is using state hardship funding to pay for the construction of Lucas, Beaver and Hanline schools.

The start of the 2013-14 school year means orientation and registration will be held this week at both Ceres and Central Valley high schools.

Ceres High School will host registration today. Seniors will be at the school from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., and juniors from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Sophomores whose last names end in A through L will register between 12:45 p.m. and 1:45 p.m. while M-Z from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. Incoming freshmen will register on Friday, Aug. 9 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. A makeup day for registration will be on Monday, August 12 from 4 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Special education registration will be from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Also, CHS students may makeup on the first day of school, August 14, from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. in the Student Center.

Central Valley High School's "Taking Flight" registration is set to take place Thursday between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Students whose last names end in A through Di meet from 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m., Do through Lopez meet 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m., Lor through Rh meet 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Ri through Z meet 3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.