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Lathrop High students rally to help teacher keep her job
Lathrop High School Drama students hold several placards showing their support for their teacher Hali Rosen. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

Lathrop High School drama teacher Hali Rosen will continue working in that capacity after the Manteca Unified Board of Trustees voted by a slim margin of 4-3 in favor of her retaining the job.

The decision was made during the trustees’ closed session that was continued after the conclusion of the open portion of the March 3 meeting. The trustees came back from their closed meeting with board president Deborah Romero reporting to a near empty audience on the result of the discussion and voting.

Earlier in the evening, during the public comment portion of the meeting when anyone can go up to the podium and speak on any subject that is not on the agenda for that evening, more than a dozen Lathrop High students and some parents stood up front in a show of support for Rosen. Several of the students were carrying signs with messages such as “Rosen was chosen for LHS,” “We (heart symbol) Rosen,” and a large plastic banner of the high school drama department.

Whether that show of support was a factor in the vote in favor of Rosen is not known. It was a personnel matter so there were no other details shared with the public by the board. The item was only briefly noted in the closed session agenda. As a rule, an announcement is made on any of those items if there is something to report, which is what happened in the case of Rosen.

A high school teacher since 1997, Rosen joined the faculty at Lathrop High School during the 2013-2014 school year as a Drama teacher, according to an open letter to students she wrote on the website called SchoolRack whose aim is “to provide students with materials to aid in their success in this class” and includes information that students could access such as “assignment calendars, resource documents, agendas, links and class notes.”

She received her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from California State University, San Francisco, and her master’s in Theatre Arts from Northwestern University. Her experiences after college include working as a private acting coach, directing community theatre. But she was determined to pursue her passion for teaching high school students as “drama had a huge positive impact on my life as a teenager.” She went back to school and obtained her teaching credential from California State University at Northridge. From Southern California, she moved to Central California to be near her daughter who was attending the University of California at Davis.

“I love teaching Drama to high school students because it changes lives,” she wrote.

Among the stage productions her students have presented on stage at the high school campus west of Interstate 5 include “You Can’t Take It With You,” a 1937 Pulitzer prize-winning play by Kaufman and Hart, and the musical “Grease” which was presented in the spring of 2014.