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District holds informational night for vocational academy
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The first “parents informational” meeting held at the beginning of the week started the ball rolling for the opening of the Manteca Unified Vocational Academy (MUVA) this fall.

Senior Director of Secondary Education Clara Schmiedt and Manteca Adult School Principal Diane Medeiros who facilitated the Monday night meeting reported that some 60 people came to find out more about the district’s newly approved vocational training program.

“Sixty people showed up. They asked really good questions,” Schmiedt told members of the Manteca Unified Board of Education meeting for the first time officially as the MUVA board. That meeting came right after the adjournment of the school board meeting.

“I think it went really well,” Schmiedt said.

“It was a very positive night. It was really good to see both parents and students excited about the program,” noted Medeiros. She said they gave out 24 to 25 admission packets that evening.

Medeiros said the parents mainly wanted to know “what this (vocational program) is all about.”

MUVA, which was approved by the Board of Education at their last regular meeting, will begin this school year by offering only the Culinary Arts program. The original plan was to accept only 30 students initially into the program; however, that has been increased to 34.

The vocational academy was approved to offer three programs. The other two are Industrial Fabrication Technology and Medical Office Assistant. The ongoing problem with the budget stemming from the ongoing fiscal crisis in Sacramento is the reason behind the district’s decision to start with Culinary Arts at this time. The other two vocational courses require more start-up money. Culinary Arts, on the other hand, can benefit from the district’s Nutrition Services plus the culinary arts subject already being offered at Sierra High School.

No general funds will be used for the vocational academy. It will be funded with ADA – or Average Daily Attendance – funds.

The course will be open to junior and senior high school students who can expect to graduate not only with a high school diploma but a vocational certificate when they graduate. The certificate will be the student’s ticket to enter into the job market.

As Medeiros explained it, those enrolled in the vocational programs will not only attend classes but will have “practicums” which means, for those enrolled in Culinary Arts, working and having on-the-job training and experience in a café setting, for instance.

The vocational program is all about “taking responsibility for your own learning,” and about “students taking ownership of their own learning,” Medeiros said.

“We really want to get students who want to have a vested interest in their education,” Schmiedt said.