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Indian Education Program focus of gathering
Members of the local Indian Education Program took part Monday in the viewing of the federally funded Title VII grant at Northgate Park. From left; front row, Abigail Rosas (the parent committee’s student representative), past president Diane Bristow; back row, Linda Voorheis (program coordinator / teacher), Leanna Italiano (president), and Tannis DeWall (secretary). - photo by VINCE REMBULAT/ The Bulletin
Each year, the Indian Education Program servicing students of the Manteca Unified School District must present its federal grant for public viewing.

It’s during this time that folks involved in the Title VII program can determine, assess or address the culturally academic needs for those kindergarten-through-12th-grade students.

“It’s our chance to upgrade every year,” said program coordinator and teacher Linda Voorheis, who is expecting the grant to be certified sometime this week.

Along with the grant viewing, she and other members of the Indian Education Program came together Monday at Northgate Park in Manteca to share a meal and conduct their first official fundraising event of the year.

Proceeds from the sales of Indian tacos were applied to the scholarship program, according to Voorheis.

“I think the big thing about (the Indian Education Program) is the building of community,” she added.

Some 433 students with Native American ancestry – acknowledged or with a trace of the heritage from a grandparent – are currently involved in the local federally funded program.

Meetings are held four times a week at Stella Brockman School. Students receive tutoring, homework assistance, take part in storytelling, share in multi-cultural affairs, and have access to the program’s library services.

The week is also filled with activities.

On Monday, students can do arts and crafts or receive traditional flute lessons on Wednesdays.

Thursdays are reserved for dance and drum while Sundays consist of archery.

Voorheis, however, is proud of the academics.

She retired from MUSD about two years ago after spending 20 years at McParland School and 18 at Lincoln School.

“In our program, we have 100 percent graduation rate,” Voorheis said.

In math, 73 percent of those third-grade students were proficient or better while 59 percent of fourth-graders did likewise the same in language arts.

“Those are extremely high numbers,” she said of the latter. “Generally, Native Americans are far below the average in this subject area.”

Meanwhile, the local Native American program is helped out by its many parents and volunteers.

Included is Martha Harman, who puts in a couple of hours per day, and Mark Fountain, who helps out where needed.

Students, in the process, are getting a chance to learn about their culture.

“Language is part of our culture,” said Voorheis, who noted that the program offers seven different Native American languages. “We’re bringing it back to our people.”

More information on the Indian Education Program can be obtained by contacting Tannis DeWall at 209-983-1614 or Voorheis at 209-823-4369.

To reach reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail