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covid mural
Manteca High Art instructor Jiana Boudreaux displays the next mural, which is a collaborative COVID project by Matthew Miramontes from last year’s graduating class and Tyler Keller from the MHS Class of 2021.

Manteca High features over 230 murals throughout campus that kicked off 25 years as a deterrent to the graffiti problem.

Jiana Boudreaux remembers those early days. The current art teacher was a student back then – Kurt Giovannoni, who has since retired, was a catalyst behind the MHS Mural Museum.

“I was more into theater,” she said, remembering her days in MHS back in 1996.

Boudreaux is now in charge of the on-campus murals. She’s having to do so with several challenges along the way.

Construction – school is currently undergoing a major renovation – and the COVID-19 pandemic provided a few of those obstacles.

“Last spring during the pandemic, all MHS students had to go online (for distance learning). I wanted to create a way for them to process their thoughts and felling through their art as many artists around the world were doing,” Boudreaux said on Tuesday.

From that came concepts for the COVID art project.

“Students reflected on their experience during the pandemic and how it affected them personally,” she added.

Matthew Miramontes from last year’s graduating class drew up a silhouette of students wearing their caps and gowns. But rather than tossing their caps as a longstanding graduation tradition, they’re shown throwing away their face masks – symbolic of the pandemic.

That idea – placed on hold due to the stay-at-home orders – was revisited this school year with the return of in-person learning. Students in Boudreaux’s Color & Design class used that earlier sketch to incorporate their personal experience via visual representation and expression.

“We discussed it in length as a class and agreed we should memorialize this moment and connect the two graduating classes (2020 and 2021). This experience stuck out the most,” she said.

Senior Tyler Keller the reins on completing the concept, using Miramontes’ initial work and developing an idea that brought both graduating classes together.

Boudreaux described it as “two graduates standing together in cap and gown, diplomas in hand, with their respective graduate years inscribed on to the folded paper gripped in their hands.

“Graduates in the background are in silhouette throwing their face masks and bumping elbows (the new way of greeting someone more safely during the pandemic) as if to say, ‘we’re in this together – connected forever,’” she said.

Principal Frank Gonzales indicated that new mural will likely be placed in eco-friendly Science Wing.

This 90-wing of the school is also home of more recent art works by students.