You can pick your friends, pick your house and pick a career. Now students can pick their schools in the Rowland Unified School District.

Families throughout the sprawling district can now enroll their children in the school of their choice for the 2010-11 school year. The enrollment period used to be in January.

Last week, schools across the district were holding tours to show off their staff and facilities.

Sixth-graders were out in force, checking out the intermediate schools. They have to change schools anyway, so why not pick a school they liked?

If the scene at Alvarado Intermediate School was a typical example, the schools were going all out to woo new students.

The Alvarado band

Sixth-grade students visit Alvarado Intermediate School in Hacienda Heights on Nov. 17, 2009. (Photo by Gina Ward / Courtesy of Rowland Unified)
played some bouncy selections as sixth-graders from Killian, Farjardo and Jellick elementary schools toured the intermediate school in Hacienda Heights.

It was a ticker-tape parade without the ticker tape, as student leaders led the visitors around with brightly colored signs.

There were instructions: Jellick students this way, Killian kids please report to the computer lab, Farjardo friends report to the track for a run.

"We brought 70 students from Farjardo. This is a really good experience for them," said sixth-grade teacher Javier Elias.

One of his students, Melody Maniputty, said she wanted to go to Alvarado. "It seems like a pretty good school," the 11-year-old said.

Classmate Omar Brisero

agreed. His brother, Daniel, already goes to the local intermediate school.

"I want to play sports, especially the soccer team," Omar, 11, said.

Even the touring teachers seemed impressed with the warm reception.

"It's very impressive," said Mike Weber, a sixth-grade teacher at Killian. "They're taking their time to show us their campus."

Killian's Vincent Tao thought the tour was a good idea. The 11-year-old wants to become a scientist, but right now he was more interested in Alvarado's jazz band.

"My sister liked going here," the little saxophone player said.

Eleven-year-old Yvette Williams listened with rapt attention as a choral group performed in the music department.

"I'm a singer and dancer, so I want to join the choir when I come here next year. It's a nice school and close to my home," Williams said.

They toured classes ranging from cooking to computers. The science classes interested many visitors.

"I hope you all had a chance to visit our student gardens, where science students are growing snowpeas for an experiment," said Alvarado instructor Doreen Lucero.

"My students want to grow cilantro for the pizzas we're making next," the home economics teacher said.

Next, the 229 elementary students gathered in the amphitheater for another presentation.

The band played. The dancers danced. The flag team unfurled its colorful pennants.

Alvarado students presented skits to ease some of the visitors' concerns about attending the intermediate school.

"We have Pizza Hut every Wednesday, so be nice to the cafeteria ladies. You might get a bigger slice!" one actor said.

The upperclassmen assured the sixth-graders that everyone at Alvarado was very friendly and helpful.

"It's a big campus and you might get lost the first day. But you can ask anyone for directions and they'll help you," another actor said.

By then, it was time for some fun, so some students were selected for the "Twinkie" contest. All they had to do was open the golden treat. They just weren't allowed to use their hands.

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