The Sky is the Limit as the Manteca Unified School Board conducted its expanded recognitions meeting.
Board members flew from location to location on April 26 at the district office complex in order to honor as many staff and students as they could.
Beginning at Regional Environmental Studies Center (RESC) building, the evening started honoring the Certificated Educators of the Year. The Certificated Personnel Director, Bonnie Bennett, read sections of the nomination letters to the crowd.
Rocio Gonzalez, a K-1 teacher at Brock Elliot, is a technology champion and a math curriculum lead who is a “prime example of a life-long learner.” She was followed by 5th grade teacher Elda Rodriguez from Great Valley who is described as “inspiring” and that her “enthusiasm is contagious.” Rodriguez has also been named a lead NGSS Rollout Trainer for the San Joaquin Office of Education.
Martha Martinez, 7th Grade teacher from Walter Woodward, was honored next for being one who “makes learning an adventure” and who “infuses excitement into her students.” Martha is also involved in many community activities. To conclude, Stephan Unterholzner, chemistry teacher from Sierra High School, teaches his students to be “innovative and independent learners.” He also serves in a variety of site, district, county and even national leadership roles. His principal, Mr. Steve Clark, believes that Steve is, “one of the finest teachers he has ever known.”
Ruth Baker, Director of Classified Personnel, next honored the Classified Employees of the Year. Representing MUSD in the Maintenance, Operations and Facilities category is Tony Barros, Energy Education Technician, from the Community Outreach and Innovative Programs (COIP) Department. Quoting from Victoria Brunn, the Director of COIP, “Tony is always willing to go above and beyond. He is the first one to volunteer his services.” Tony has the distinction of having won his category at the county level and moving on to the state level for classified employee of the year.
The recipient in the Office and Technical category is Katy Jarnagin, a clerical assistant from Sierra HS. Her supervisor, Greg Leland, who not only praised her job performance, but stated, “All of the students on our campus love and adore Katy. She has appeared in school rallies, singing and dancing.”
For the Para-Educator and Instructional Assistance category, the selected honoree was Angie Geter, Paraprofessional I from Manteca Day School. Her supervisor, Gerald Braxton, stated, “She connects with students through empathy, encouragement, and celebration of success. She constantly seeks to learn new procedures, techniques, and educational philosophies.”
Following the honoring of Certificated and Classified employees of the year, the district recognized Future Homemakers of America – Home Economics Related Occupations (FHA Hero), recipients of the Future Farmers of America (FFA) State Degrees, and Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) medalists.
Some other unique honorees in this first round of the celebration included Sean Marsh of McParland School who won a full scholarship to Space Camp. From Sierra High, McKenna Doyle won a Congressional Merit Award, Greg Leland was honored for the Association of California School Administrators (ACSA) Co-Administrator of the Year award, and with a standing ovation, Dante Del Prete was given the Every Student Succeeding award for his inspirational personal victories over physical disabilities and how dedicated he is to spending his free time helping others.
The Board Members then boarded their virtual rocket for a ride over to the District “Best of the Best” Art Show in the main district office. Forming a close circle around the winners, the Board Members were honored to recognize two outstanding students from East Union HS. Estephanie Arredondo won Best in Show for her American Indian portraits on wood. Next, for her elephant oil painting, Mariah Jeffery won the People’s Choice Award.
Students who have successfully participated for all four of their years in high school in the San Joaquin Honors Concert, were then awarded the Nelson Zane Award.
After lingering to briefly enjoy the artwork, the MUSD Board flew on to the be.tech gymnasium where they honored the Weston Ranch HS Cougars Boys’ Basketball and Soccer teams. Both teams won both their Valley Oak League and Sac-San Joaquin Section Division III championships this year. Each team would stand in succession near their seats to be cheered on by their families and friends.
Next, the Board recognized the Manteca High Buffaloes for their CIF Division III State championship, taking a moment to once again savor this unique accomplishment.
Moving even beyond the state level, the Board recognized Tyler Griggs of Neil Hafley school who successfully took first place in the Drive, Chip and Putt National Golf Finals in Augusta, Georgia. For an athlete so young, this is quite an accomplishment.
To wrap up the evening, Candice Lao was awarded the A. Dale Lackey Scholar of the Year award, Branden Rullen was recognized as a state wrestling qualifier, and Anthony Chapman was recognized as the Sac-Joaquin Section Athletic Director of the Year. All three are from Sierra High School.
With so many accomplishments, there was no way to honor everyone without this multi-location venue. As the rocket came in for a landing that night, the Board enjoyed a procession of handshakes and personal congratulations one last time for these phenomenal people who continue to make Manteca Unified Proud to be MUSD.