At Raging Waters in San Dimas Tuesday morning, kids were splashing around the wave pool and shooting down the slides. They were cramming in as much fun as they could in the last days of summer.
"I feel like, if school starts tomorrow, I'd kill myself," said 10-year-old Ian Rivera.
School for him begins next week, which meant he had a few more days to enjoy summer vacation.
Other kids weren't as lucky. Earlier that morning, just a few miles away in La Puente, parents dropped their kids off at Del Valle Elementary School. That school is within the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District, which began its academic year on August 7, the earliest start date in Los Angeles County.
For many parents, the school year started the Tuesday after Labor Day. But districts across California have been pushing start dates earlier and earlier. As a result, the first day of school can be any time from early August into September, depending on the district. The Los Angeles Unified School District, the state's largest, begins classes on August 13.
"It's just random," said Jake Cervantes, the parent of a second grader at Del Valle Elementary in La Puente. "I know that I have a coworker of mine from Pasadena. They don't start until the end of the month."
Districts said it's not random at all. They're starting earlier largely to help seniors who are in advanced placement classes.
Colleges value A.P. credits, which can also boost a student's overall grade point average. Every student in the country has to take the A.P. test - which shows whether they've mastered the subject - on the same day.
"Advanced placement exams take place in the first couple of weeks in May, every year," said Nader Delnavaz, administrative coordinator of college and career education programs for L.A. Unified. "Then you have to find things to do with the students through nearly the end of June, and that was an issue."
By starting earlier, districts avoid the problem of keeping students occupied for the roughly six weeks between the end of A.P. tests and the traditional end of term in mid-June.
Starting earlier wasn't a big deal to Deseiny Aleman, who was beginning 7th grade at La Puente's Sierra Vista Middle School on Tuesday.
"Well, it's kind of exciting for me to start school early and make new friends and get used to the whole new thing," she said.