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New Haven is guiding STAR for Manteca Unified
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New Haven School youngsters enjoy a free barbecue lunch Friday as part of the all-day STAR celebration. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT
At New Haven School, students start at a rather an early age in embracing the Standardized Testing and Reporting.

“We want them to be excited about taking the STAR exam,” said Mardy White, who teaches a combined first- and second- grade class.

She along with second-grade instructor Jeanine Haxton had their classes design STAR T-shirts to mark Friday’s school-wide event recognizing New Haven as tops in Manteca Unified based on the recently released Academic Performance Index scores.

All told, 62 youngsters on schedule to take the STAR exam in the next year or two sported the message on the back of their specially designed shirts: Believe, Achieve, Succeed.

The current third- through eighth-grade classes did just that in helping New Haven once again raise the bar among district schools with an API score of 831.

The state Department of Education’s target for all public schools in the coming years is 800.

Manteca Unified had six schools exceeding that mark, including Brock Elliott (825), McParland (823), Veritas (816), Nile Garden (815), Stella Brockman (808) and, of course, New Haven.

New Haven’s STAR celebration – the event was organized by the school’s Community Club consisting of president Laurie Burns, vice president Jen Gomes, and secretary Cindy Ward, to name a few – consisted of a black top assembly / flag salute that morning followed by a free barbecue luncheon for the entire school along with music and fun.

Principal David O’Leary even took his turn at flipping hamburgers.

He said the reason for his school’s API performance can be attributed to several key factors.

“Our parents are involved. Our teachers are the best. And our kids do the work,” O’Leary said.

He added: “It all works out.”