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Manteca Unified celebrates student excellence
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Elementary students from across the Manteca Unified district were honored for their high marks on the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress Exam. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL/ The Bulletin

Miles Lima already had a lot to be proud for with his second-place finish in the apprentice level of the National Braille Challenge – which tests visually impaired and blind students from across the country in categories such as reading comprehension, writing speed and accuracy, proofreading, spelling and reading tactile charts and graphs.
But the Walter Woodward Elementary School student can probably now add “wittiest student in Manteca Unified” to his list of accomplishments.
In front of a packed house at the Lathrop High School performing arts theater Tuesday night to honor students from across the district for their academic and artistic achievements, Lima shot back a quick retort to East Union High School student Victor Romo after he mispronounced his name and corrected himself upon being notified.
Lima’s reply of “no need now” led to an eruption of laughter from the capacity crowd that spilled out into the foyer, and set the tone for an evening of shining the spotlight on students who have worked hard for their achievements in areas that ranged from FFA to AP Classes, CAASPP testing to choir.
At the end of the day, said Manteca Unified Superintendent Jason Messer, events like the one held Tuesday are the reason that most teachers and administrators across the district are in a field like education.
“From my standpoint, it’s the very reason that most of us here are in education,” Messer said. “We’re in education to celebrate the successes of students, and events like these reinforce the hard work and accomplishments that each of these students have achieved.
“This marks an event where we bring everybody together to honor their successes, but these things are happening every day in our schools and it’s wonderful to see.”
In addition to students that were honored for their top scale scores on the CAASPP test and on the Advanced Placement tests in high school, special recognition was handed out to those who went above and beyond even the classroom within the last year.
Lathrop High School student Valerie Villanueva, who was honored Monday night by the Lathrop City Council for her act of heroism in saving the life of a young boy who nearly drowned by using the CPR that she learned in her health skills class, was given a chance to walk across the stage at her own high school because of her impactful split-second reaction, and she wasn’t alone in doing so.
The teacher that provided the instruction to Villanueva, James Ward, was also honored, as were other be.Tech students who assisted in teaching the vital skill that helped save a life.
And there were students like Lathrop High School senior Curtis Kimbro who was honored for his selection to the San Jose State Honors Wind Ensemble as a trumpeter – performing in a chair recently as part of a recital that included some of the best student musicians in Northern California.
“Being from the Central Valley, I was blown away by the ability of some of the other performers when I actually got there – they are some of the best I’ve ever seen,” Kimbro said. “And it’s special to be able to be recognized for my achievement here at the high school which I attend.
“A lot of times these things are held somewhere else, and being here in front of my family and friends makes this feel like home.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.