Several years ago, Manteca High set out to change the culture of the school.
Although steep in tradition, MHS had an image problem of sorts, according to Assistant Principal Troy Fast.
“We had too many (office) referrals from fights and other on-campus incidents,” he said on Tuesday.
Fast, who has been an administrator at the school for the past eight years, attended a Renaissance conference in Oakdale in 2013. It was there that he drew inspiration of what would be the frame work of the Honor The School program.
Principal Frank Gonzales was its biggest supporter.
“We were spending too much time dealing with negative behavior instead of rewarding positive behavior,” said Fast, who credited a small school up north for sharing a program that recognized students with positive, tangible incentives.
Today, Honor The Code is prevalent throughout campus. The school has reported fewer referrals than ever as part of the results.
The program kicked off its fourth year on Friday. Once again the HTC shirts were the design idea of the students, with this year’s coming in a distinct camouflage green.
“’Camou’ is in (style) this year,” said junior Kate Botell, who earned her shirt by talking about the program to 400 freshmen during a recent assembly.
Gina Menasco from the MHS attendance office confirmed that the neither the shirts nor the bracelets are for sale. Each must be earned.
Students receive tickets for making positive choices or decisions that are submitted to Menasco for a monthly drawing for a shirt, according to ASB President Nathalie Soto.
As for the colorful bracelets, teachers will recognize a student for their various efforts – character, academics, arts, sports, attendance, etc.
Sydnee Fryer added that each bracelet feature a word per month that’ll ultimately will spell out B-U-F-F-A-L-O-E-S. The word for September is “Believe.”
Each bracelet is worth points – a character bracelet tallies on one point each while the White Buffalo MVP bracelet is equivalent to four points.
“There’s more than one way to earn recognition,” Koryn Menasco said. “You can get one just by being a good person in theater, sports, ag, or cheer.”
She along with Fryer, Soto and Botell are all in the Leadership program and, no surprise, are involved in school.
Koryn Menasco is ASB Treasurer and played tennis and softball.
Fryer is a standout player on the girls’ basketball team and president of the Basketball Club.
Soto is also in cheer and the Health Occupations Students of America of HOSA: Future Health Professionals.
Botell is in Future Farmers of America, golf and serves as the ASB secretary.
“What I like about HTC is that it’s for everyone – even the special needs classes are involved,” she said.
By the end of the year, Fast said thousands of bracelets will be distributed to students for their positive efforts.
Alumni bracelets are also available, Gonzales said.
Meanwhile, those tallying 12 points or more will receive the HTC patch. Fast described the assembly held at Mulvihill Theatre as an “eclectic” group based on the cross-section of the student body in attendance.
“Even that quiet student can get recognized,” he said.
In addition, students can honor a teacher under the program, which includes a Teachers Choice Awards night in May.
HTC has become such a model program for reinforcing positive behavior that other high schools have approached MHS about it. “Grace Davis (in Modesto) now has Honor The Shield,” said Fast.