Manteca’s newest high school campus isn’t Lathrop High.
It was built for a fraction of what it would cost to build a traditional secondary campus.
There is also no football field, pep rallies or cookie-cutter classrooms.
It is about as non-traditional as you can get.
And it is the sixth largest high school campus behind Manteca, East Union, Sierra, Lathrop, and Weston Ranch and bigger than Calla and New Vision when it comes to student enrollment.
So where is the campus?
It’s at the Manteca Unified School District office complex at Louise Avenue and Airport Way.
Between various programs from the anchor be.tech academy to the school farm upwards of 1,000 teens a day make their way to the MUSD complex.
The classrooms run the gamut from a commercial kitchen, fabrication shop, a pseudo town for public safety career training to an almond orchard.
At the heart of it is the district’s charter high school — the be.tech Academy.
The be.tech programs have 559 students enrolled including those at auxiliary programs taking place on the Sierra, Manteca, Lathrop, and Weston Rach high school campuses.
The be.tech programs just received a favorable recommendation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The organization accredits schools and looks at educational missions, organization, curriculum, instruction, student learning outcomes, and the school’s operations and culture. WASC accreditation is used by universities and other post-secondary schools to determine a student’s eligibility for admission. Students in the first two years of the program were covered by their home school’s accreditation. Diane Medeiros, principal of the be.tech Career Academies, indicated the school expects to receive the official notice of accreditation in February.
Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer said the next goal is to fine tune and expand existing be.tech offerings.
One other 11th-12th grade academy may be added — logistics and international business.
Logistics is the biggest employer in terms of attracting workers from the Bay Area to jobs in San Joaquin County according to a study published by the Ebhardt School of Business at the University of Stockton. Logistics is considered to be a major employment growth category in San Joaquin County as firms such as Amazon, Home Depot, Ford, Orchard Supply Hardware, Restoration Hardware and many others relocate here due to central access to the Bay Area and Sacramento markets as well as south to Fresno.
Be.tech Charter High School currently operates five academies, four career academies, and independent study at the district office complex that also includes education in core subjects such as math, English, science and the social sciences. The programs are:
u10th grade career exploration — Students spend the first quarter focusing on personal and career interests. Each of the next three quarters features introductory courses in the first responders, culinary, and industrial art academies. The academy is full with 27 students. A second section for 10th graders will be added when the waiting list grows to 15.
uCulinary arts — Students are taught basic culinary skills and the knowledge needed to obtain Serv-Sav Certificates. They also operate a daily student-run café as well as a bi-monthly fine dining experience. They also do field work with the Manteca Unified Nutrition Education department. There are 18 students. Registration is currently open for 11th grade students with the cap being 15 more students.
uIndustrial arts & technology — Students complete basic safety instructions and learn introductory CNC drafting and design as well as welding skills. They use laser, plasma and 3D printers. Students are immersed in metal work design and creation of individual projects. They also focus on building employability skills for the work force. Many of the second year students are employed and combine work experience with school work. There are 27 students. Registration is now open for 11th grade students with 10 seats still available.
uFirst responders — The academy focuses on four career paths: the military, emergency response and health field, firefighting, and law enforcement. The students run scenarios and practice emergency response drills on a street front façade that looks and feels like a downtown. There are 24 students with enrollment currently open to 11th grade students for 15 available spots.
uIndependent study academy — Students meet individually or in small groups with an independent study group once or more times a week. They complete their work independently at home or study in the school’s learning center where teachers can assist them. The blended learning model includes direct instruction, on-line coursework, project-based instruction, and traditional textbook coursework. It often involves a combination of instructional methodologies. They can also choose from academy electives to broaden their learning experiences. It typically works for students who struggle to fit into a traditional school setting., There are 67 students currently. Registration is open to 9th through 12th grade students.
uGame design — The expansion academy is located at Lathrop High. The Game Design Academy focuses on video game design and digital art. Students use commercial game engines and design software to create their personal portfolio of game and art projects. There are 30 students.
uHospitality — The expansion academy located at New Vision High allows students to explore hospitality and tourism career paths and an avenue to event management, the food and beverage industry or the lodging or travel industries. There are 14 students.
uFarm-to-fork — There are 30 students enrolled at Sierra High that explore careers in food production and service.
uBe.connected — The program focuses on social media and web design with a heavy emphasis on English skills. There are 30 students in the program at Sierra High.
There is also a sports media program at Manteca High that involves 130 students and the be.vital academy at Weston Ranch High with 152 students.