The Riverbank City Council and City Manager Marisela Garcia toured both Mesa Verde Elementary and California Avenue Elementary during Back-to-School night last week. The new 2022-23 school year has commenced for Riverbank Unified School District and the excitement continued with a Tuesday evening visit from Mayor Richard O’Brien, Councilmembers Darlene Barber Martinez, Cal Campbell, and Rachel Hernandez along with Garcia.
“The purpose was for us to be introduced to the residents and students,” said Martinez. “We were asked a few questions by some excited students.”
One of the questions asked by a student was how they could get involved with the city by volunteering and Hernandez shared that there would be an opportunity through Love Riverbank. Another student asked what the City Council does.
To which Martinez responded, “I explained that we decide which services will be provided in the city and how to pay for them like parks, and roads. We decide what new buildings and houses will be and where they are built.”
A student also challenged the mayor about the graffiti at the Community Park and the mayor said he hopes she reaches out to assist in a solution.
At both schools the City Council and City Manager were introduced. The mayor gave a short speech and Hernandez translated it in Spanish.
“Both visits were exciting and well organized by the school staff,” stated Hernandez. “The students were introduced to their teachers, staff, and city council plus school board. Riverbank and these schools have a large Spanish speaking population so both events were translated for the students and parents.”
It is not very often that the city government and school district cross paths. The idea for the visit began when a PTA member reached out to the council. They were not able to talk to the students in great length as there were several things going on during back-to-school night, but they were able to make a quick connection nonetheless.
They were also able to pass out flyers, pins and magnets regarding the upcoming Centennial Celebration on Saturday.
The mayor noted that he enjoyed the visit to the schools last week and hopes to do the same for Sylvan School District, as many city residents attend schools there as well. He expressed that the interaction between the school and city government is important.
Earlier this year Mayor O’Brien’s father passed away. He was a teacher for many years and taught some of the teachers that the younger O’Brien met at back-to-school night last week. The mayor noted that he enjoyed hearing some of the stories about his father.
“It was great to have the students plus parents, teachers and staff, school board and city council together,” added Hernandez. “Showing the community who we are is just a start to building a more inclusive community.”
Elsewhere, on the Adelante Continuation High School campus, the Back-to-School festivities were hosted on Monday, Aug. 8.
The Riverbank Language Academy held its meetings on Wednesday last week and Riverbank High School held its evening activities on Thursday, Aug. 11, on campus.
At RHS, families first met with Principal Greg Diaz, who gave them some background information, then introduced staff and some event participants who were in the audience, which included RUSD Superintendent Christine Facella, and members of the district school board.
Diaz then introduced the teaching staff. When finished, they left the Fauria Memorial Gym to disperse to their classrooms in preparation for meeting with the families during a modified, brief bell schedule.
Much like their students do during the day, families filled the corridors on campus as they filtered between classrooms as the bell rang.
Starting at 6:10 p.m., the six periods of 10-minute sessions, along with accompanying four to five minutes in between, saw all six periods done by 7:31 p.m.
News Correspondent Ric McGinnis contributed to this story.