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The big kindergarten campout

Why parents pitch tents to register kids for local school
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Dodging footballs and high-flying Barbie dolls, Amber Lane, 32, settled into a camp chair and pulled out a novel, keeping one eye on Drew and Brody, her 3-year-old twin boys.

The twins’ big sister, Carleigh, 5, will enter kindergarten at Lincoln Crossing Elementary School where the family joined a registration campout Sunday. 

Lincoln Crossing Elementary School Principal Kevin Kurtz said Friday that 89 registration packets had been distributed before the weekend.

The campout, going into its fourth year, was initiated by parents who wanted to be certain their children were registered at the Lincoln Crossing venue.

For three nights, beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday and ending about 7:30 a.m. Monday when the school doors open, more than 100 adults pitched tents on the school’s lawn adjoining a parking lot. They hoped to secure one of 125 coveted spots for their children in Lincoln Crossing’s kindergarten program. 

By Sunday noon, the campers had settled in and the prevailing mood was reminiscent of a big family picnic with children playing in groups and parents chatting amiably. However, not everyone understands why parents would camp out just to register their children at a public school.

“People think we’re crazy,” Lane said. “They bash us on Facebook; they drive by here honking and yelling. But it’s worth it.  We get to meet all the other parents here and our kids get to play with each other. They won’t have that anxiety the first day of school because they’ve been here for three days playing with classmates.”  

“Another advantage is I only have to do this once,” Lane said. With her daughter’s acceptance at Lincoln Crossing, Lane’s boys will automatically be eligible to enroll at the school in two years.

In 2012, Lincoln Crossing had more than 170 registrations for kindergarten, 55 of which had current students enrolled and these students were guaranteed placement, according to Kurtz.

Lane arrived with her tent at 3:30 p.m. Friday and is Number Eight in the line-up.

“It’s been a benefit getting to know the other parents,” Lane said. “It’s not so much about the school — it’s more about the community.”

Brook Kelly, 28, was the first parent in line. Her son, Ethan, will turn 5 in September.  In accordance with recent changes in California’s education code, a child must turn 5 on or before Oct. 1, 2013 to enter kindergarten.

With 678 students and 24 classroom teachers, Lincoln Crossing has the second largest elementary school student population in the Western Placer Unified School District.

Twelve Bridges Elementary comes in first at 719 students and 26 classroom teachers, according to statistics provided by Mary Boyle, Western Placer Unified School District’s deputy superintendent of schools. 

Numbers don’t include specialist teachers such as science, music and resource specialist programs. The third most populated elementary school in the district is Creekside Oaks. Located less than a mile from Lincoln Crossing, it serves as the overflow location for students from Lincoln Crossing neighborhoods.

Kurtz said the campout “is mainly about parents wanting to enroll their children in a school that’s close to where they live.  We have well over 100 students attending Creekside Oaks. It has the same curriculum as we do — it’s a wonderful school to overflow our students to.”