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MUSD vocational charter school now offers Industrial Tech & Design program
The Manteca Vocational Academy Caf in a picture taken during its grand opening in January 2013. The caf is run and operated by the students in Culinary Arts, the first program offered as part of the first vocational charter school for Manteca Unified. - photo by ROSE ALBANO RISSO

The Manteca Unified School District’s vocational academy is looking for a few young men and women who are interested in pursuing a career in machine design and fabrication, welding and manufacturing. These are students who would receive their high school diploma at the same time that they get their basic certification in their chosen field of training which would serve as their ticket to gainful employment right after graduation.

This program, Industrial Technology and Design, is the second class offering of the Manteca Unified Vocational Academy. The district’s first vocational charter school was launched last year when it opened the MUVA Culinary Arts class. Students who started last school year are starting their final year of culinary studies in August when school opens.

Like the culinary class, enrollment in the Industrial Technology and Design will be limited to 32 students. Those who are interested are therefore encouraged to fill out the application packets and enrollment forms as soon as possible. Enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis. Should the number of applications exceed available space in the class, students will be selected by lottery.

Accepted to enroll in the class are students who will be in 11th grade (juniors) by August. They have to have completed two years of high school.

No fees required to get MUVA high school diploma, job skills certificate

MUSD’s vocational charter school does not charge any tuition fee from participating students. They attend classes just as they would as regular high school students, with the additional bonus of obtaining a basic-skills employment certificate in their chosen vocational field. Funding for these classes is based on ADA – average daily attendance – just like any public school. The proposed 2013-14 MUVA budget in the Manteca Unified’s spending plan for the same period is $342,749. The Board of Trustees will consider approving the new budget at their regular meeting tonight.

Where the vocational charter school classes differ from the regular classes is in the curriculum and method of instruction. It’s a combination of independent study, small-size classes, online course studies, and practical skills training.

“Students benefit from small classes and specialized study leading to a high school diploma, and a certificate in their career field. During the first year of training, vocational classes are focused on providing students with basic employment skills while building their skill set in a professional working environment,” explained Diane Medeiros, principal of Manteca Adult School which is charged with overseeing MUVA. “The combined work and study lends itself to basic certification, on-line courses and Independent Study to complete their core academic study for their high school diploma.”

While enrolled in MUVA, students may also take classes that will earn them college credits, giving them the additional option of going on to college if they so desire. The school district has partnered with Grand Canyon University in Arizona, the same university that the San Joaquin County Office of Education uses for its own programs. Grand Canyon charges the district for the college courses taken by the MUVA students.

Culinary Arts has openings for one-year instruction

While MUVA’s class offerings are two-year programs, there Medeiros said the Culinary Arts program “will accept a few 12th graders who wish to complete a one-year program.”

MUVA was launched for the first time during the 2012-13 school year that started in August 2012 with the offering of the Culinary Arts class. During that time, Culinary Arts students obtained their food certifications, have had experience catering a number of school districts such as the Manteca Adult School graduation, as well as preparing food at the recent San Joaquin County Fair, and are now engaged in hands-on experience on managing and operating a restaurant with the opening of the MUVA Café on the school district campus on West Louise Avenue. Unique to any business in Manteca, and perhaps in San Joaquin County, the bistro-style dining destination is entirely run by students who are involved in the day-to-day chores from menu planning and food preparation down to the washing of dishes, pots and pans in the kitchen, and helping customers at the front counter.

MUVA classes are open not only to qualified Manteca Unified students but to any resident of San Joaquin County who meets the requirements.

Admission packets and enrollment forms may be downloaded from the Manteca Unified web site – – or they are available for pick-up at the Manteca Adult School MUVA office (in the portable buildings at the Louise Avenue entrance to the district office) at 2271 W. Louise Ave. For additional about the Culinary Arts or Industrial Technology and Design classes, call MUVA office manager Kelley Wilson at (209) 858-7460.