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Children Celebrate After School Program
Overshadowed by a giant inflatable figure of King Kong, hundreds of excited children thronged Riverbank High's football field on Friday to celebrate the After School program to which they belong and enjoy all kinds of carnival games such as the legendary gorilla's slide.

Entertaining some students while waiting for others to arrive, Family Resource Center Director Esther Rosario and After School leader Fevita Vigil danced up a storm and had the new bleachers rocking to the strains of that age old favorite "Y.M.C.A."

"Wow, isn't this amazing? What an example of the community and schools coming together," said Superintendent of Schools Ken Geisick in his welcome speech for the third Lights On celebration. "No longer do we have school from 8 to 2. We now begin the day at 6:30 a.m. with a before school program and homework club. Just two weeks ago, the walking club was formed where over a hundred students start their days with exercise walking laps around the school led by high school students, social workers and our before school team."

Ten years after the program began humbly enough with only 60 students at Rio Altura School, the After School program now involves more than 1,000 students, programs on every campus and a budget of $1.7 million a year.

Meeting before school as well as after school, they take part in academic support classes, enrichment activities, community service, student wellness, field trips and special events five days a week.

This summer, Project Action launched a very successful Summer Action Program that provides transitions for incoming sixth graders, academic support for incoming ninth graders and a robust program of enrichment and educational opportunities for over 200 students.

"Project Action is recognized as a Cadillac program citywide and beyond," Geisick said, noting it receives funds from state and federal grants, private donations, community partnerships and the generous support of parents, volunteers, non-profits and local service clubs.

Friday's event included presentations by representatives of area legislators Dennis Cardoza and George Radanovich, a stage skit by the reading theater group of Rio Altura School, Mesa School and Riverbank Language Academy, a show by Strut Studio of Dance from Modesto and performances by locally born celebrities choreographer and dancer Raymond Santos and singer-dancer Luna J.