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Sierra High celebrates 25th year of leading the pack
school sierra
Sierra High Assistant Principal Anthony Chapman was one of those who stepped onto the campus as part of the first student boy 25 years ago on Aug, 19, 1994.

The Manteca High Buffalos.

East Union High Lancers.

The Pacific Huskies?

It was a possibility that could have been the name of Manteca’s third comprehensive high school that opened its doors 25 years ago on Aug. 19 as well as the name of its mascot.

It was a tidbit shared Monday by Sierra High Assistant Principal Anthony Chapman.

Chapman who has spent half his life as a Sierra High Timberwolf — first as part of its first four-year graduating class in 1998 and then 15 years so far as a teacher and administrator — was one of the speakers at the kick-off assembly conducted in the school stadium to mark Sierra High’s 25th anniversary.

Chapman has the distinction of not only being part of the first Sierra High student body but being the only one among his 600 fellow students that first year to be on the school staff during the Timberwolves’ silver anniversary year.

Chapman was part of the student committee that helped select the name and mascot as well as choose the school colors of blue and gray.

It was a choice between two names of major features that Manteca sits midway between — the soaring Sierra mountain range and the vast Pacific Ocean.

Given Manteca High that opened 99 years ago was named after the community and East Union High that opened 52 years ago was named after one of the first elementary schools opened in the mid-19th century, Chapman said they wanted a name that would set them apart from their soon-to-be crosstown rivals. Given the campus was a block south of Yosemite Avenue and the fact Manteca serves as the northern gateway to Yosemite Valley, Sierra — whose very name embodies boldness and new challenges with soaring peaks and ruggedness — was chosen.

The debate was then between the Timberwolves and the Huskies. 

“My favorite saying is, “the strength of the wolf is in the pack and the strength of the pack is in the wolf’,” Chapman told the gathering.

“A lot has changed since then,” noted Chapman, who described himself as a former 5-foot-8 scrawny 130 pound freshman who has since grown 11 inches and added 100 pounds.

“Sierra High is my home, my second family,” Chapman told the 1,400 students who ended the assembly posing for a 25th anniversary student body photo, adding “the pack continues to grow.”

Principal Steve Clark opened the assembly by pointing out the goal of Sierra High today is the same it was 25 years — “students and academics first.”

“Sierra High remains true to its mission,” Clark added while emphasizing that it includes the education of “all students.”

Clark presented inscribed mini-statues of a howling timber wolf to the 11 Sierra High staff members that helped open the campus in 1994 and are still working today. (Name and short bios appear in an accompanying story).

A bronze plaque noting the 25th anniversary of the school that was funded by the Sierra High Athletic Boosters was also on display. It will be placed on the opposite side of the office entrance from where the dedication plaque is located. It lists the current Sierra High leadership team of Steve Clark, Anthony Chapman, Anne Marie Shaw, and Andrew lee, Jared Rio, Stella Oliver and Mike James. The 25th anniversary committee’s names are also on the plaque. They are Paul Bennett, Dan Cunial, Yvette Fisher, Allison Lowry, Kathleen Slikker, and Amber Talcott.

Clark noted the first student body photo of the 600 students on opening day was shot 25 years ago from the roof of the drama building. The 25th anniversary photo shot be Chris Leonard had to be taken from atop the football stadium press box to get all 1,400 students plus faculty in the photo.

Student Body President Rupina Sandu addressed the crowd while Rachelle Felt sang the national anthem.

Other events planned for Sierra’s High silver anniversary school year are:

A ceremony naming the baseball field in honor of Jack Thomson and the alumni BBQ on Saturday, Sept.  14 at 11 a.m.

The homecoming game against Kimball High on Friday, Sept. 20 featuring a performance of the alumni band and alumni cheerleaders.

The Sierra High Hall of Fame induction ceremonies on Sunday, Sept. 22, at 6 p.m., in the school library.

The 25th Anniversary Fun Run on Saturday, Oct. 5, at 8 a.m.

The 25th anniversary edition of the Lobo Gold Rally on Friday, Nov. 15.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email