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Parent Summit Event Comes To Riverbank High Campus
Dr. Victor Rios, a Sociology Professor at UC Santa Barbara, delivers the keynote address at the Parent Summit at Riverbank High School on Saturday morning. His message was one of advice for parents, focusing on helping them support and encourage their students. - photo by Ric MCGinnis - News Correspondent

Riverbank High School hosted a Parent Summit on Saturday morning, March 12 beginning with a keynote address in the Ray Fauria Memorial Gymnasium at 9 a.m. and concluding after lunch, about 1:30 p.m.

The district even provided some breakfast supplies, including orange juice, fruit, and donuts, along with water.

The keynote presentation, held right at the beginning, featured a professor of sociology from UC Santa Barbara, Dr. Victor Rios. Because most of the parents attending were primarily Spanish speakers, the bulk of the presentation was conducted in Spanish.

The new video screen installed on the wall of the gym was used to show the PowerPoint part of the presentation, and it included a real-time Spanish translation of the parts that were in English, at the bottom of the screen.

Rios introduced himself as having immigrated from Mexico with his mother, at a very young age. He said they ended up in Oakland, with his mother having to take whatever job she could find. He described her as having to endure the discrimination of an employer who refused to pay her minimum wage for her work, threatening that if she reported him, he would have them deported to Mexico.

Rios said they were forced to move around quite a bit, spending some time living in a park. By high school, he had decided to quit and find a job to help out. Along the way, he also got involved in street gangs, and seemed headed down the wrong road.

However, Rios said he was able to pull himself together, obtaining his GED, then graduating from Cal State Hayward (now known as Cal State East Bay). Then he obtained his doctorate in sociology from UC Berkeley.

And he has written a pair of self-help books, including one concentrating on gang life.

His presentation focused on encouraging the parents in how to be supportive of their students, ultimately being able to help them accomplish as much as they can in their education.

“We were very excited to be able to bring Dr. Victor Rios to our school district to speak to our students, staff and parents. Those who attended the Parent Summit were very engaged and could relate somewhat to Dr. Rios’ story and message,” said District Superintendent Christine Facella. “He encouraged families to educate students beyond high school as that education can be transformational for families. Dr. Rios also shared some strategies for dealing with their students that included authoritative as opposed to authoritarian methods while not being too lenient. Parents attending the summit also had breakout sessions on going to college, technology and assisting students with academics. Overall a great event that we hope more parents will take advantage of in the future.”

After the presentation, and a brief break, attendees participated in those break-out sessions held in classrooms in one wing of the campus, that concentrated on specific topics that might help them.

There were five topics included:

• College 101, by CSU Stanislaus presenter Rocio Luna

• Digital Citizenship, by RUSD Technology Specialist Stacy Bauer

• Parents and Stress, by Golden Valley Health Center presenter Mario Jimenez

• Let’s Build Student Success Together, by RUSD presenter Norma Ramirez

• Number Ninjas! Study Math for a Better Path! by RUSD presenters Susan Told and Penny Bartholomew.

There were two break-out periods provided, so attendees had to choose two of the five they wanted to attend.

An additional feature of the way the sessions were organized was that each had two versions, a Spanish session, and a session in English. And most handouts from the sessions were printed in English on one side and Spanish on the other.

Following the workshop sessions, the parents were invited to lunch from a local taco truck provided by the district, just outside the entrance to the gym.

After that, parents were free to gather information from the organizations participating in various Resource Booths that were spread around the edges of the gymnasium floor. A few of those on hand were California Health Collaborative - Every Woman Counts; Catholic Charities - CalFresh Healthy Living Program; Modesto Junior College; and Oak Valley Hospital District – Family Support Network.

RHS Break Out
After the initial presentation at the main gym Saturday, the RHS Parent Summit transition to break-out sessions in one wing of classrooms. Conducted both in Spanish and English, they were aimed at giving the attending parents tools to help their high school students become more successful in their classes. - photo by Ric MCGinnis - News Correspondent