Fifty years ago this month the beloved Manteca High tower fell victim to a wrecking ball.
Its demise was ordered by the State of California that determined it no longer met earthquake safety standards.
The decision half a century ago to tear down the tower sparked a community wide uproar. The Save Our Tower Committee was formed but to no avail.
Another community effort spearheaded by Lucille Harris three years ago to lobby Manteca Unified to resurrect the cherished tower as part of the $42 million modernization of Manteca High was dubbed “Bring Back the Tower”.
MUSD leaders said they would consider somehow incorporating the tower in a design for the campus makeover if it were economically feasible. Skyrocketing construction costs wiped out that option.
That said the district is still looking at options to somehow incorporate an image of the tower somewhere in the project perhaps in an art medium. What that would be and how it would be funded is a big question.
There may be an obvious answer, however, that would require alumni who cherished the tower and the old mission-style school campus buildings that were completed in 1923 and served students through 1968 to raise the funds, the Manteca Mural Society to buy in, and the Manteca Unified School board to agree to allow it to happen. That would be a professionally commissioned mural mounted on a panel the size of one of the Veterans Wall murals downtown that carry a price tag of $25,000 a pop.
Such a mural would obviously need to be horizontal and could easily be mounted on the wall of the new gym being built to seat 2,161 people. The gym is targeted to break ground in the fall and take 12 to 14 months to complete.
It would also represent a perfect marriage of the mural society with Manteca High that has been featured in national publications such as American Profile for its ambitious student mural project that has led to the creation of more than 200 murals since 1996.
The new gym will have two “high profile walls” for public viewing. One will be the entrance facing the east toward the football stadium and what is today Garfield Avenue. The other would be to the south facing people as they enter the campus from Moffat Boulevard.
Given the strong community support Manteca has enjoyed it would be a fitting gesture and undertaking. It would also underscore Manteca’s rich tradition by highlighting its first 50 years as it heads into its second century.
The gym will break ground at the dawn of Manteca High’s 100th year. And what better what to celebrate its dedication as the main feature of the 21st century campus in 2022 than to unveil a mural that honors Manteca High’s rich tradition.
Keep in mind Manteca Mayor Ben Cantu said he would push for renaming the segment of Garfield Avenue that comes off Moffat and will terminate in a future roundabout that will serve as a new drop off zone by the new gym and new swimming pool if he is asked to do so by the Manteca High Associated Student Body.
Buffalo Way could easily grace the student entrance to Manteca High just like Lancers Way does at East Union High. There are no property addresses facing the southern segment of Garfield that is being split from the northern section that will end at Mikesell Street to allow the securing of the campus. The only expense the city would likely require the Manteca High ASB to incur is for one new street sign.
And if by some chance a high visibility crosswalk one day is placed where Moffat and Garfield intersects that also has an overhead flashing light such as the two being installed on Yosemite Avenue in front of the school at Sherman as well as Garfield avenues, a sign proclaiming “Buffalo Way” could possibly hang from it over Moffat as a Lancers Way sign hangs from a traffic signal arm over Union Road.
A similar request to the Manteca City Council from the Sierra High Associated Student Body could possibly get Thomas Street changed to Timberwolves Way. The only address currently on Thomas Street is Sierra High. Instead of one street sign that needs to be changed there are three.
Lathrop High, as a side note, has a city street named Spartan Way that starts just west of Interstate 5 after Lathrop Road crosses Harlan Road that passes in front of the campus. That name change was traced back to a request made to the Lathrop City Council by the Lathrop High Associated Student Body before any homes or businesses were built along the roadway.
What makes it all the sweeter is that Lathrop Road becomes Spartans Way.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org