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More than 400 freshmen at Manteca High
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Link Crew advisor Mary Ann Tolbert provides some friendly reminders of the upcoming first day of school to members of the Manteca High Class of 2022 on Thursday. - photo by VINCE REMBUALT

When’s the first day of school?

Mary Ann Tolbert, who is the Link Crew advisor at Manteca High, posed that very question at Thursday’s freshmen orientation as a friendly reminder.

“School starts at 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday,” she said to the group of newcomers gathered at Guss Schmeidt Field.

Tolbert along with her 36 Link Crew leaders welcomed this large group of newcomers.

She indicated that the Class of 2022, consisting of 450 ninth-grade students, continues that recent trend of over 400 students entering MHS.

With it are the many traditions at the school.

Just walking through campus, the freshmen class received a formal introduction to the Manteca Mural Museum along with the white Buffalo statue.

“In two years, MHS will celebrate its 100th anniversary – you’ll be part of that celebration,” Tolbert said.

For now, the young classmates were a bit shy after an overwhelming morning of ice-breaking activities and being thrown into a group apart from their longtime friends. It was part of the process of getting them out of their comfort zone, Tolbert said.

Natalie Guerrero remembers those days.

“I was a lot like them,” said the Link Crew leader and president of her freshmen orientation experience. “I had a great Link Crew leader – he was energized and mentioned that it was important to get super involved in school.”

She did just that, working the sidelines for the Buffaloes football program during the past two years consisting of back-to-back Sac-Joaquin Section titles along with trips to the NorCal Bowl as a sports trainer.

Guerrero hopes to become a physical therapist.

She’s also in her third year as a Link Crew leader, having served last year as vice president of the leadership program designed to make newcomers of the school feel comfortable during that first year while providing support via mentor.

Link Crew is a big part of Guerrero’s high school experience. She’s hoping to influence others as well in her leadership role.

To contact reporter Vince Rembulat, e-mail