LATHROP — For Juliana Ballesteros and Chase Hayes, the first day of school was like starting all over.
The two freshmen admitted Thursday that they approached their first day at Lathrop High feeling nervous and, at the same time, excited.
“It was overwhelming seeing how many people were on campus,” said Hayes, who had put behind the comforts of Joseph Widmer Jr. School.
Ditto that for Ballesteros, who also attended Widmer. She came away from that first-day experience impressed with some of the freedoms high school had to offer.
“It’s OK for us to use our cell phone,” Ballesteros said.
She also liked the mature treatment she got from her teachers.
Like any freshmen, they both spent the summer anticipating their first day in a new environment called high school.
“They went from being that big fish in a small pond to a small fish in a big pond,” Vice Principal Bill Pinol noted.
He added that Lathrop High kicked off the new school year with 1,297 students. “And they’re still coming in,” said Pinol.
Getting to the campus in the morning was somewhat of a challenge for any newcomer. The traffic pattern along Spartan Way is still one-way enter, one-way exit coupled with the construction taking place for installing the solar panels necessary for the Renewable Energy Efficiency Project.
Manteca Unified is projecting on reducing utility bills by about 65 percent once the solar systems are installed at all 26 campuses including Lathrop High.
Ballesteros and Hayes both arrived at school at 7:15. As far as expectations, they were eased a bit stress-wise by attending freshmen orientation hosted by Link Crew a few days earlier.
It was there they met some of their new classmates from the other feeder schools – included are Mossdale and Lathrop Elementary – while taking part in the ice-breaking activities. They also got a tour of their new surroundings.
“We’re still waiting to get our lockers,” said Hayes, who had Piano for his first class of the day.
Ballesteros opened the day with first-period English 1.
She said another difference between elementary and high school is the four-class schedule.
Ballesteros and Hayes will look to find their niche at Lathrop High. Both have a good starting point by being involved in Leadership.
“High school can be a real intimidating environment (for any freshman),” said Pinol, who, as always, encourages students to take an active role during this time of their life.
He, too, is excited about the new school year, with the school getting nine new teachers to boot.
Lathrop High also continues to build on a tradition that started when the school opened some six years ago.
“We’re all looking forward to this school year,” Pinol said.