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New Manteca unified school year starts; French Camp blends old & new at campus
sierra family
Three generations of the Thomson family – legendary coach Jack Thomson (interim athletic director), Special Ed. teacher Travis Thomson, and Becca (senior) and John Michael (freshman) – were on hand for the first day at Sierra High.

French Camp Elementary School is the melding of the old and new.

The old is the historic brick building with the Spanish tile roof, a longtime fixture at the corner of Elm and Fourth streets.

The new is the M Wing – ‘M’ as in modernization – with a portion of that made possible via the third wave of Measure G, a voter-approved $159 million bond measure from 2014, coupled with other funding sources.

The state-of-the-arts structure features high ceilings with glass roll-up “garage-type” doors to connect the eight classrooms to the shared learning commons – all furniture in the new building happens to be on wheels to easily adjustable to any configuration, according to Principal Rene Knapp.

“My jaw dropped to the ground when I first saw the plans,” she said on this first day of school on Thursday.

Manteca Unified welcomed some 25,000 students to the classrooms.

French Camp had 581 students at the kindergarten- through eighth-grade campus for Day 1. Those returning noticed that the old B Wing was gone, having been demolished and cleared over the summer.

That was also part of the modernization along with the parking lot with 92 spaces – “We never had a (standalone) parking lot here,” Knapp said – and the bus loop on Fourth Street adjacent to the new building.

Speaking of which, Knapp was thrilled to see that designers of the new building incorporate the brick work and tile roofing to match that of the historic structure.

“The whole purpose is collaborative learning with the focus on literacy,” she said.

The first day of the new school year around MUSD featured three generations of the Thomson family at Sierra High.

Legendary Timberwolves coach Jack Thomson was back as the interim athletic director – Andrew Lee, who previously held the position, moved over to East Union to serve as Assistant Principal to the school’s new principal, Eric Simoni; he returned to his alma mater after six years as principal at Escalon High – joining his son, Travis Thomson, who is a Special Ed. Teacher at SHS, and grandchildren Becca (senior) and John Michael (freshman).

Students at Manteca High also enjoyed the renovation projects, including the new gym, swimming pool and classrooms.

At Shasta School, Katie Francis is the new principal. She took over from Audrey Parker, who is MUSD’s Coordinator of Extended Learning.

Francis spent her entire professional career with MUSD, including the last seven as a school administrator.