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French Camp School celebrates new multi
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From left, retired teacher Miriam Bradley and her husband, Bruce, a former French Camp School board member, are joined by long-time secretary Joanne Sanchez at the opening celebration of the multi-purpose building on Thursday. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
FRENCH CAMP – It was more than a school that celebrated the grand opening of a  new facility.

Rather, the French Camp School community – the past, present and perhaps the future – came out Thursday for the special multi-purpose building event made possible by the voter-approved Measure M bond election.

“They did a great job on this place, especially the outside architectural (brick) design,” said Bruce Bradley, who once sat on the French Camp school board.

That was about 50 years ago prior to unification of the historically rich rural school.

“Stockton (unified) was interested in French Camp but we were more connected with Manteca,” said Bradley, who was joined at the grand opening event by his wife, Miriam Bradley, a retired French Camp teacher, and former school secretary Joanne Sanchez.

Trustee Manuel Medeiros is on the current Manteca Unified school board. He not only represents French Camp but fought hard to make the dream of the multi-purpose building into a reality.

“This place is part of the community,” Medeiros said.

Chuck Crutchfield agreed. The vice president of tutorial program Give Every Child A Chance noted the new facility services the 112 students in the after-school program.

“It’s also good for French Camp,” he added.

Oscar Munguia, who is the ASAP (After School Advantage Program) director for Give Every Child a Chance, and his wife, Irene, are both alumni of the school. Irene’s mother, Rosie Rodriguez, a longtime French Camp teacher, also attended the school.

“I had a tear in my eye when I saw the old kindergarten building go down to make room for the multi-purpose building,” Rodriguez said.

She’s excited about the new facility.

As for Oscar and Irene Munguia, they’re hoping someday that their young son will attend French Camp School.

The opening celebration of the facility attracted over 200 in a short-but-sweet program.

Principal Joanne Balestreri welcomed students and their family along with special guests and dignitaries – included was MUSD Superintendent Jason Messer and the school board – while the East Union JROTC color guard presented the colors and the combined East Union / French Camp bands performed the Star-Spangled Banner.

Messer presented the Measure M recognition plaque and Kathy Brown along with members of the student council, provided a short history of the school via power point.

Fourth- and sixth- grade students performed a “Ballet Folklorico” under the direction of Martha Rosas.

The poem “French Camp School Our Foundation and Our Future” by Debbie Houck of the district office was read aloud by Fabiola Aguirre and Paula Hernandez.

Another district official, Roger Goatcher, was also thrilled with the new addition.

“My son, Chance, is an eighth-grader. He’ll be in that first class to graduate (in the multi-purpose building),” said Goatcher, who was vice principal at French Camp from 2000 to 2004.

His wife, Tracy Lee, attended the school as did her mother, Linda Jones.

The legacy at French Camp continues to be passed on from on generation to the next.

As always, it’s about the community.