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Veritas among schools with student growth
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From left, French Camp Elementary School Vice Principal Jennifer Taylor and new Principal Rene Knapp shared some first day of school fun on Wednesday. - photo by VINCE REMBULAT / The Bulletin

The first day of school can be special.

For Rene Knapp, it was just that being her first encounter with students at French Camp Elementary School. No surprise, she was often asked on this Wednesday morning: “Are you the new principal?”

Many of the estimated 630 kindergarten- through- eighth- grade students arrived bright and early at the historic school site of the Manteca Unified School District’s oldest school.

“First days are always exciting,” said Knapp, who has been with the district since 2002.

She was previously the vice principal at Joseph Widmer Elementary School in Lathrop, moving over to French Camp this year as former FC principal Susie McCreath is now the principal at Sequoia Elementary School.

At Veritas Elementary School, the first day of school was partly about trying work in the new drop-off, pick-up situation on campus.

“We closed off some of the parking lot,” Principal Tracie Crawford said.

She’s been the only principal at the school since its opening in 2005. Before that, Crawford was at Lathrop Elementary School.

Meanwhile, Veritas has gone through changes since her first day there.

In the early days, the school with an enrollment back then of 350 could only be accessed via a gravel road at Woodward Avenue – the other side of the campus was almost all farmland.

The school is now in a busy area of Manteca located a hop, skip and a jump from the Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley coupled with recent development and more planned building out.

Crawford mentioned that enrollment at Veritas is about 950 to kick off the new school year.

She and Vice Principal Michael Cowan greeted the new arrivals to school this morning. “We had a few (kindergarten students) that went through separation anxiety,” Crawford said.

But thankfully, the school’s Summer TK-Kindergarten Bridge Program – the recently held eight-day transition sessions – helped others make that first-day adjustment, she noted.

Back at French Camp, Knapp was thrilled with the arrival of students. “I look forward to the first day (of school),” she said.

Her plans included visiting the classrooms later that day and eventually getting to know the students.

She’s looking forward to this school year.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail