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Manteca High gearing up for centennial; Sierra High marks 25 years

Manteca High is gearing up for its centennial celebration at the same time it will be in the thick of a $42 million revamp that will set the stage for its second 100 years and being positioned to accommodate growth as the city moves toward 100,000 residents.

The centennial celebration set for the 2020-2021 school year which marks 100 years after Manteca Union High School first conducted classes, will follow on the heels of the Sierra High silver anniversary.

Sierra High opened its doors to freshmen and sophomores 25 years ago this August.

The school is coming up with a 25th anniversary logo that will be used in various planned events.

The school plans on renaming its baseball field as well as stage a number of events tied to 25 years of academic excellence including bringing the valedictions and salutatorians together from the last 25 years.

The celebration will be capped with events surround the 25th Sierra High graduating class in May of 2023. That was the first year that all four class levels were implemented at the campus.

Manteca has a 100th anniversary committee formed to stage a year-long centennial celebration that will also involve alumni. One of the bigger undertakings is expected to be a parade through the streets of Manteca.

The formation of the Manteca Union High School District was approved by the voters on May 19, 1920. That led to 19 men of the community borrowing enough money in their own to build temporary wooden buildings on the same site that Manteca High stands today.

Dan Baysinger was hired to build two small classrooms, a study hall, and a library. The long wooden buildings were covered with tar paper. Stories of the day in the Bulletin noted that they were far from being soundproof. Once the rains started it was discovered the buildings were far from waterproof as they were damp and uncomfortable in the winter.

The original staff had three educators: W.G. Martin who was the principal as well as teaching history and civics, Neva Charles who taught math and general science, and Irene Newton who taught English and foreign language.

The first classes were held in the fall of 1920.

Three more rooms were added for the second school year with four more teachers hired.

Voters approved a $200,000 bond on Dec. 23, 1921 for more permanent campus buildings with a classic California mission design popular in that era complete with tower. For $200,000 that wouldn’t even cover the cost of building a classroom today built over a dozen classrooms and a 550-seat auditorium that has a stage 76 feet wide that doubles as a gun for basketball games. It was equipped with a net to keep balls from flying into the audience and players from falling into the orchestra pit.

Prior to Manteca High opening, Manteca students that wanted to get a high school education rode the Tidewater Southern Railway to Stockton and back daily. The Manteca line was a spur off the main line that ran as far south as Turlock. Today’s Tidewater Bikeway is over the railroad route spur that ended just short of today’s Spreckels Avenue.

It is interesting to note there had been a debate about where the union high school should be located. There was a push to build it in Lathrop at the time as it had the bigger population.

But as a trade center — stores and such — as well as industry through canneries and Spreckels Sugar, Manteca was seen as the place with the most growth potential.



To contact Dennis Wyatt, email