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Great Wolf may join Manteca effort
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Great Wolf Resorts likes the direction Manteca Unified School District is heading.

The firm that is seeking to build a 500-room indoor water park resort in Manteca has indicated they will partner with the school district in the latest vocational charter academy school program rollout — be.OurGuest — debuting this August at the New Vision High campus in Stockton’s Weston Ranch neighborhood as part of the academy.

The be.OurGuest is designed to make graduates employable in the leisure, tourism, and hospitality industry.  There are currently 19,200 people employed in leisure and hospitality concerns within San Joaquin County. Not only is it the third largest source of jobs but it is also the third fastest growing adding 100 positions in the past year,

If Great Wolf is approved this summer by the Manteca City Council, the resort by itself would add 570 jobs by itself — 414 full-time and 156 part-time. The annual payroll would be just under $10 million making it Manteca’s second largest private sector employer behind Doctors Hospital of Manteca in terms of dollars paid and the largest based on sheer numbers of workers.

“It’s not just for students who want to go directly into the job market,” New Vision High Principal Sonya Arellano noted. “If there is a student bound for the University of California at Berkeley that happens to be a foodie they could use what they learn to secure employment to help them get through college or as something to fall back on.”

The program is designed to provide graduates with certificates granted by trade groups for hotels and restaurants that typically go to those completing approved course of study. The certificate essentially gets applicants to near the top of the line behind those who already have experience in the field.

A wing of classrooms at New Vision will be dedicated to the be.OurGuest program. The bulk of the students are expected to come from Weston Ranch and Lathrop high schools with some from East Union given nearby French Camp students go to that school. The program, though, will be open to all Manteca Unified juniors and seniors as well as those from other areas such as Stockton since it is a charter school program.

Arellano said there are plans to have a café for lunch that will be open to the public on days that school is in session. She noted that given the Weston Ranch area has a limited number of dining options such a café could prove popular with residents.

Partnering so far with be.OurGuest are the Stockton Hilton, Downtown Stockton Alliance, the Stockton Convention & Visitors Bureau, and Stockton Arena.

Trustee Sam Fant who represents Weston Ranch praised the be.OurGuest program.

“We need to make students so they are employable,” Fant said.

Superintendent Jason Messer has noted 60  percent of Manteca Unified grads go on to a two-year post-secondary school or community college. Another 20 percent go to four-year institutions.

The remaining 20 percent go into the military, the family business, start working, or end up in prison.

Of the graduates going on to four-year programs from Manteca Unified, 95 percent graduate. The students who go onto two-year programs such as community colleges and vocational schools have a completion rate of around 50 percent.

The Manteca Unified endeavor is seeking to target those that don’t complete a two-year post secondary course of study and those who are trying to go straight into the workforce.

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New vocational programs for fall

Vocational education is the path least traveled by most California secondary schools. But that soon won’t be the case in Manteca Unified. Six other new vocational programs will added in addition to three based programs at the district office complex consisting of first repsonders, culinary arts and fabrication, the New Vision be.OurGuest endeavor  as well as the school farm and Regional Occupation Program.

The six other new programs are health care at Weston Ranch High; advanced engineering and manufacturing plus coding and gaming at Lathrop High; sports business careers such as broadcasting and sports medicine at Manteca High; and farm to fork food endeavors plus web design at Sierra High.

The seven new programs along with mirror industries that are large job generators in the 209 region.

And just like with the programs they are open to any student in the district. For example if a student currently at Manteca High wanted to pursue the web design program, they would be transferred to Sierra High from their junior and senior years. All programs are two-year undertakings for juniors and seniors. 

But unlike, students from outside Manteca Unified will not be able to enroll in the seven new vocational programs at the individual campuses. That’s because operates as a charter school.

Students successfully completing the vocational programs will get two diplomas — one in their chosen field of study and one from the comprehensive high school they are attending. They still have to meet all of the academic requirements that non-vocational students do. Academics are structured as independent studies that are taken at the same time as vocational training.