March 8, 2013

Turlock schools' robocall about festival goes out a bit too early

Robocalls to publicize Turlock schools’ Festival on the Green today went out early to thousands of families — a little too early. They were supposed to go out Friday evening, but phones started ringing at 5:45 a.m.

The dreaded a.m./p.m. error strikes again, this time to 8,950 Turlock families who got an early morning wake-up call courtesy of the school district Friday.

The robocall, which started going out at 5:45 a.m., was to publicize the Festival on the Green today, a community event sponsored by the Turlock Unified School District and Turlock Education Foundation celebrating school music programs.

District Superintendent Sonny Da Marto issued a prompt apology on the district's website and Facebook page, taking responsibility for the mistake and asking forgiveness for any inconvenience.

His apology, posted just before 9 a.m., reads:

"I apologize for the call so early in the morning. It was my fault. Evidently I set the time to be delivered on 'a.m.' instead of 'p.m.' for the message regarding the Festival on the Green. I am very sorry for this inconvenience, please forgive me."

Most Turlock parents took the call in stride, though when the school district's identification flashed across their screens, some had a moment of panic.

"My phone rang shortly after 6 a.m. and when I first saw it, I thought there might be an emergency at the school. A lot goes through your mind as a parent and you think, 'Oh, no, what happened?' " said Turlock resident Christina Reeves, whose daughters go to Pitman High, Turlock Junior High and Walnut Elementary. "And then the first thing they said when I picked up was, 'Good evening,' so I knew it was just a mistake."

Reeves said the call woke her up but didn't disturb the rest of her family, and she was able to go back to bed. She said the mix-up did make her think more about attending the Festival on the Green, an event she wasn't familiar with before the call.

The festival has been expanded in its second year, with the help of the Education Foundation. It grew out of the annual music program recitals, which were turned into a daylong event last year. The free music festival at Pitman High features performances from choirs, orchestras and bands from across the district's schools. More than 600 students in grades kindergarten through 12 will participate. There also will be some 40 entertainment, education and food booths in the quad area, with additional performances, art shows and activities.

Turlock Education Foundation President Barney Gordon said donations raised during the event will go toward the district instrument repair fund.

"We posted the apology on our Facebook page and most people have been very understanding that this is one of those things that happens sometimes," Gordon said.

"Our intention is to make this a festival folks look forward to year after year where they can come hear some music and enjoy the day."

Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at mrowland@modbee.com or (209) 578-2284. Follow her on www.twitter.com/turlocknow.


WHAT: Second annual Festival on the Green

WHEN: 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. today

SCHEDULE: 10 a.m., all choir students, grades five-12; 12:15 p.m., elementary band, Dutcher Middle School jazz band, Pitman and Turlock high schools' combined jazz and symphonic bands; 2 p.m., all seven-12 band students; 4 p.m., orchestra performance by Brown, Cunningham, Wakefield, Walnut, Dutcher and Pitman students; 6 p.m., orchestra performance by Crowell, Earl, Julien, Medieros, Osborn, Turlock Junior High and Turlock High students

WHERE: Pitman High School, 2525 W. Christoffersen Parkway, Turlock

INFO: Admission is free. For more, go to http://turlockusd-ca. schoolloop.com.

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