By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
MANTECA SCHOOL Manteca High centennial starts on May 19, 2020

Manteca High is gearing up for the celebration of the century to mark the school’s 100th year.

It starts on May 19 — the 100th anniversary of the date when voters approved a measure to form the Manteca Union High School District.

On Tuesday, May 19, the Manteca High centennial flag will be raised. Other events planned that day include a campus-wide writing activity, special information given during announcements, special recognition at baccalaureate, centennial letterman patches available to purchase for current students, and special polo shirts for staff available for purchase.

The first classes started on Oct. 20, 1920.

Among activities being considered that will be built around the football homecoming date that is yet to be chosen include a parade through downtown Manteca that would feature all former homecoming queens and a float of past principals among other entries, fireworks at the game, and honoring grads by the decades.

The Saturday after the homecoming game could include an open house showing off the entire campus, BBQ in the stadium, centennial memorabilia for sale, a photo on the field with attendees making out the number “100”, and teams of the various decades gathering around campus. There would also be centennial banners placed around the campus.

Every sport will have a homecoming game where alumni will be invited so they can be honored.

Other things are being planned such as a centennial mural and possible creating a centennial spot on campus via the selling of bricks.

Manteca Unified can trace its lineage back to 1850 when the first school was built in French Camp, Back then, county records show it was costing $24.55 a year to teach each of the 91 students registered. Due to a major truancy problem, the average daily attendance was only eight students.

Today Manteca Unified has nearly 25,000 students and 32 school campuses. The cost to educate a student on an annual basis is in excess of $10,000.

Up until 1920, youth in Manteca, Lathrop, and French Camp going on to high school had to take a train each day to Stockton.

Since the turn of the 20th century there had been talk of establishing a high school to serve the area but discussions were dropped when it was determined the cost was too high. Also creating a problem was where to locate the high school of it were built. Lathrop argued it should be in their community since it was larger at the time than Manteca. Others argued for a location midway between Manteca and Lathrop.

Finally on May 20, 1920 voters approved forming a union high school district. Nineteen men borrowed enough money on their own to pay Dan Baysinger to build temporary wooden buildings where Manteca High sits today. It included two small classrooms, a study hall, office and library. The walls were covered with tar paper which did little to dampen sound. At the same time the roof leaked when it rained.

Three more rooms were added in 1921.

That was the same year when a $200,000 bond passed to allow construction of a more permanent campus based featuring the California mission design.

The new school was dedicated on Jan. 27, 1923. More than 1,500 attended the all-day ceremony and toured the campus. The doors were all solid oak, the floors were hardwood, and there was a 550-seat auditorium. The gym was on top of the stage measuring 76 feet in length. There was a net across the stage to keep flying basketballs out of the auditorium and people from falling into the orchestra pit.

Ten students were in the first graduating Class of 1923.

By 1968, the state determined the 45-year-old Manteca High buildings no longer met new earthquake standards.

The decision to tear down the tower sparked a community wide uproar. The Save Our Tower Committee was formed but to no avail.

The tower came down on Oct. 3, 1969. The initial efforts to topple it failed prompting the use of a wrecking ball.

The high school still occupies the original land as well as added parcels over the years. It is now starting a $41 million renovation and expansion using Measure G bond money, development fees, and redevelopment agency receipts. The school is being designed to accommodate 2,250 students with a new gym capable of holding that many people as well as a new swimming pool as the major components.


To contact Dennis Wyatt, email