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Turlock Christian sees increased enrollment as it celebrates first day of school
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Taylor Doo drops off her kids for the first day of the school year at Turlock Christian Elementary on Monday (PAWAN NAIDU/The Journal).

Turlock Christian Schools welcomed students back to campus for the first day of the 2021-22 school year on Monday. And where public schools are implementing mask mandates in an attempt mitigate the spread of COVID-19, Turlock Christian is allowing families to have a choice whether they believe wearing a mask is necessary or not.

According Collen Blomenkamp, TC kindergarten teacher, as of right now there is no mandate for students or teachers to wear a mask and “that’s the plan for right now unless we’re told otherwise.”

Many TC parents are appreciative that the school allows parents to make that decision.

“We are unconditionally thankful and appreciative to be given the choice as a parent to mask or not mask our children. Being that my children are younger, social and emotional development is pertinent to their education and development in life,” said Taylor Doo, who was accompanying her daughter to her first day of kindergarten. “It can be hard to hear people because a mask muffles a voice. Think about little kids when they are learning sounds, it's really important to see what a teacher or adult is doing with their mouth so that kids can mimic and learn their sounds. It can also be challenging to read emotions when you can't see a smile.”

Unlike public schools in town, Turlock Christian had in-person instruction for the majority of the previous school year. After the summer break, however, parents and students were happy for school to be back in session.

“It’s been a long summer and we’re ready to be back at school. We love it here,” said Sutton Lucas as she was walking her son and his friend to class on Monday.

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Sutton Lucas walks Ledger Ladine and Ryker Lucas to class (PAWAN NAIDU/The Journal).

Teachers were also eager to get back in the classroom and excited about the growth the school as seen.

“I’m really, really pumped to get started.” Blomenkamp said. “Everyone’s excited to send their kids in person and have that opportunity for hands-on learning.”

“We’re excited, the fact that we’re able to open up and see so many new students coming in is phenomenal. We’ve really grown as a school and that’s really exciting to see,” said Mariah Tristao, 6th grade teacher.

Turlock Christian Elementary has seen an increase in enrollment and is growing as some parents look for alternative to public schools since the pandemic has reshaped the education sphere.

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Turlock Christian sixth grade teachers Mariah Tristao and Donna Kirchhoff prepare to welcome students for the first day of a new academic year (PAWAN NAIDU/The Journal).

There has been an increase in enrollment from 260 students to 307 and the school has added a 1st, 3rd, 4th and 5th grade classroom, according to Principal Bob Earnest.  

While many parents expressed their thankfulness for the choice the school allows them to have when it comes to wearing face coverings, it’s the faith-based education that makes Turlock Christian a unique experience.

“We teach the whole child, important things such spiritual and emotional learning, and that’s what parents want,” Earnest said. “The kids and parents get to know each other really well, and we work together as a team. It takes a village to raise a child.”

Being able to have an active role in her children’s education was big reason why Doo decided Turlock Christian was the place for her family.

“Students have flexible seating which is accommodating and facilitates different learners. Teachers and staff are open in their form of contact. I have always felt welcomed and heard. I feel as though I am an active partner in my children's education. And it's a great feeling to have my children excited to go to school every day. What more could I ask for? Their smiles and joy say it all,” she said.