Call them leaders of the pack.
Eleven educators, support employees and a true blue school volunteer were recognized during a Sierra High assembly Monday 25 years to the day that Sierra High opened as Manteca’s third high school.
And while he has since retired, handing them inscribed mini-statues of a howling timber wolf in honor of them opening the campus in 1994 and still going strong today was Rick Arucan. He was the original principal and served 14 years — 15 if you count the year prior opening he spent hiring staff and putting programs in place — as principal. Arucan worked as a Manteca Unified educator for 39 years.
Arucan instituted block scheduling that allowed Sierra High to lead the way for the rest of the district’s high schools. He also launched the Lobo Gold Rally designed to elevate the celebration and recognition of academic excellence and performance
Among the long list of firsts that Sierra is credited with for instituting in the Manteca Unified School District are:
The initial school to establish freshmen orientation.
Monthly meetings with faculty and staff representatives to discuss how the school is doing.
Adding honor cords for graduation.
Sharing with Manteca High the distinction of establishing the district’s first JROTC program.
An annual school self-assessment involving staff, parents, and students.
Putting in place a clean-campus program.
He said a lot of individuals did a Herculean job in the year leading up to the school’s opening as well as in the first year and then beyond to get solid programs and traditions in place. Among them were Rick Wohle who oversaw secondary education for the district, Doreen Buck Arucan who help set up the office and attendance, and Vern Gebhardt who served as the school’s first athletic director.
Arucan lauded the current principal, Steve Clark, and his staff for not just carrying on traditions and making them stronger but for also continuing to blaze new trails of excellence.
The 11 original Sierra High team members that started with the school in 1994 and are still going strong 25 years later are:
uMike Rosendin was hired as part of the original varsity coaching staff in 1994 as the head cross country coach and assistant track and field coach, helping his teams win numerous league and section titles. Many athletes have advanced to the state cross country or track and field championships. Coach Rosendin has helped establish the Sierra running programs as one of the premier programs in the Sac-Joaquin Section. Most important of all, Coach Rosendin instills a tremendous work ethic, respect and level of commitment in his athletes.
Nora Anaya has served in the role of bilingual aide since 1994. She has helped countless students and their families with the acquisition of the English Language and the mastery of academic content. Anaya is known to be someone who always lends a helping hand, a listening ear or a bridge to connect students and families with school resources.
Kathy Reasor has served in the role of head kitchen operator since 1994. She has been charged with feeding upwards of 1,500 students two meals a day, every day, all year long. The nutrition that Reasor has helped provide has been an integral part of the educational offerings for all students. Anyone who has ever been in contact with teenagers understands the importance of a full stomach.
Manuel Pires was hired as part of the original varsity coaching staff in 1994 as the head women’s soccer coach. Coach Pires also has several years under his belt as the head men’s soccer coach, although he is not currently serving in that role. Coach Pires has established one of the most recognizable women’s soccer programs in Northern California and is now approaching 500 career wins at the helm. Most important of all, Coach Pires encourages all his athletes to pursue excellence in all they do, representing Sierra HS with pride and honor.
Debbie Jacobs has served as a member of the custodial crew at Sierra HS since 1994. Jacobs has worked behind the scenes for many years helping provide the wonderful facility that we all know every day. Through her diligence in working with her team, Sierra High is a place of order that is clean, well-kept and inviting for all as students enter to learn on a daily basis.
Rudy Gutierrez, or “Big Rudy” as he is affectionately known, has been associated with Sierra High School culture and athletics since 1994. He has served as the equipment manager for many athletic programs over the years. At one time or another, he has worked with the basketball programs, baseball programs, tennis programs and served as campus security at evening events. His most integral role since 1994 is serving as both the equipment and team manager for the football program. Rudy is truly part of the Sierra High family.
Amy Rosendin has taught English, history, AP Literature, yearbook, journalism, and ELD. Her Sierra leadership positions include serving as department chair and co-chair of the WASC accreditation group.
“I just remember how exciting it was to be here, helping to build the culture of a new school. I’ve always been proud to be a Timberwolf and have never thought of leaving – I know that “grass is not greener anywhere else,” she said.
Liz Aschenbrenner has taught Life Management, Culinary Arts, Food & Nutritional Science, Fashion Design I & Fashion Design II. She has also served as FCCLA Advisor and Fashion Club Advisor while also handling department chair duties and serving on the site council.
Richard Boyd taught biology and Life Science his first year. Since then it has been all PE — Core, Team Sports, Body Tone, and Body Conditioning. He has served as the head wrestling coach, 10 years as a football coach, 22 years as a baseball coach, and 2 years as girls basketball coach. He also is an Advisor Fellowship Christian Athletes and Advisor for Fittest on Campus.
Dan Cunial has taught Driver’s Ed/Health/PE, World History, as well as government and economics. He has coached freshmen football (first championship at Sierra), Sophomore football, Varsity football, Girls Varsity Basketball, and freshmen boys basketball.
“Mr. Arucan created a family atmosphere,” Cunial said of the first year. “(There was an) overall closeness off the entire staff. Everyone did know your name”.
Dianna Puett has taught Video Editing, Intro to theater and Intermediate theater plus served as the Drama Club Advisor. Leadership positions have included English Department Chair, School Site Council Coordinator, Site Council Member, Lobo Gold Committee Member, Reading Coordinator, and ELD (lead teacher/ district trainer).