For weeks, 11-year-old Jessie Cuenta has headed off to George Washington Elementary School, envying her teenage sisters who have slept in and watched TV while enjoying their summer vacations.
But when the school year begins on July 31, every school in the Lodi Unified School District will finally be on the same calendar, for the first time in more than 20 years. Washington, Lakewood and Reese elementary schools are the last in the district to switch from year-round school to the modified traditional schedule.
Students and teachers gathered Monday at those three schools to release 163 balloons in the air at each school - one balloon for each day in the unpopular and now-defunct Concept 6 calendar.
Concept 6 divided LUSD students into three rotating "tracks," with only two of those groups on campus at once. To accommodate for all the track-switching, every four months a group of students received a two-month break, cutting 17 days from the standard school year.
Add all those cut days together, and a student who attended year-round school for nine years would lose an entire year of education, said LUSD superintendent Bill Huyett.
"It was kind of hard, because you forgot everything," Mikaela Benz, a 12-year-old sixth-grader at Washington, said about the year-round schedule.
But with the new academic calendar, students attend school for the standard 180 days, with a two-week vacation after every nine weeks of instruction.
"There's not as much of a gap between instruction, so they retain more," said Bruce Spaulding, the principal at Lakewood.
The school board introduced Concept 6 in 1985 at Heritage Elementary School in an effort to accommodate more students in a small district.
But as the district grew, the calendar became outdated. In 2002 voters passed a measure allowing the district to build more schools, and the district began its switch away from Concept 6.
Washington sixth grader Vanessa Rivera, 11, is glad to have all her friends at school next year, all the time. But with fewer kids at each school, fewer teachers are needed. Monday's ceremony was a bittersweet experience for many teachers and students saying goodbye to their school and each other.
Concept 6 timelineWhen the new academic year starts on July 31, every school in the Lodi Unified School District will finally operate on the same calendar for the first time in more than 20 years. Here's a look back at the beginning and the end of the year-round school calendar:
1985: Heritage Elementary School is the first school to switch to the year-round schedule.
1989: The year-round schedule was at its peak this year - it was then in place at 23 schools in the district.
2001: Sutherland Elementary School and Lodi Middle School are the first two schools to switch from the year-round schedule to the modified traditional schedule.
March 2002: Voters passed Measure K, allowing the district to build more schools and start moving away from the year-round calendar.
July 31, 2006: On the first day of school for the 2006-07 academic calendar, every school in the district will use the modified traditional schedule.
- Source: Lodi Unified School District.
"We're losing friends, we're losing people you've taught with for years," said Christine Seymore, who teaches third-grade at Lakewood.
Still, most parents, teachers, school officials and students and are excited about the switch.
To accommodate for her son's school schedule, Lisa Donelli wasn't able to work during the school year. But having a more traditional schedule will make it easier to find child care for her son, a kindergarten student at Washington.
And 8-year-old Sarah Maddox is just fine with switching to the new calendar and to Woodbridge Elementary School. The third grader has just one tiny request in her transition to Woodbridge.
"I just want tetherball," she said.
First published: Tuesday, June 27, 2006