As we all know Chris is a proud supporter of his alma mater Manteca High School. Because of this, he’s given me, a proud current coach and teacher at MHS, a guest appearance in his column
In speaking about Manteca High I want to inform the community that the school is in its 96th year of existence. In just three and a half years our school will turn the century mark. If you have been on our campus, then you probably noticed it looks 96-years-old. Well, to be honest, I talked with a 1961 alumnus and he said the buildings look exactly the same as when he was in high school. Wow! So this campus has looked the same and four new high schools have been built? That doesn’t seem respectful of the many proud Mantecans who attended MHS and carry on our proud traditions. There are many proud Mantecans who still live in this town and are proud of the tradition that we hold. Although there are rumblings about the tower being rebuilt, in all honesty, many feel the entire campus needs to be rebuilt.
I recently attended the Tuesday board meeting at our own Dorothy Mulvihill Theater in which the two oldest high schools, MHS and Red, were able to voice their concerns about upgrades to the football stadiums at their respective sites. I was excited to see what Red had to offer because I knew our wonderful alumni and supporters were armed to the teeth with knowledge to give to the School Board. Right away Red made the typical “our kids get hurt” motive that every other school will use to get a new field. Trust me, when the MHS Frosh football team played Red in Week 10, their field looked like a cow pasture. They actually need the help.
But now I’ll use a frequent phrase that was heard throughout the night: “Who will be held accountable?” It is a proven fact that over the years our fields have not been maintained. The killing of the grass and gopher problem seems to be too much. Well, these turf fields need to be maintained. Will MUSD be able to maintain these million dollar facilities? We can only hope. However, for Guss Schmeidt field there are more problems than just the playing field. The lights were installed in 1959 when the stadium was first built. Usually in other stadiums I notice just four poles while we have six. Ever go to a Manteca game and wonder why it’s so dark? Well, we found out during the meeting that our lights burn at less than 20% of their standard. Some are even worse. During my first home game as a Buffalo in 2005, the best team in town history, we played Modesto High. I remember looking around and telling a teammate, man, this place is dark. Call it the mystique of Guss Schmeidt if you want, but the fact is each light doesn’t produce more than eight feet of light. The $4.3 million offered would repair everything around the stadium, except the field.
Aside from our football field, there is an even bigger concern in regards to MHS facilities, much bigger than the stadium itself.
In Wednesday’s article in the Bulletin it vaguely described the real feelings in the room as MHS alumni, students, coaches, and community supporters informed the School Board of just how terrible the facilities are at Manteca High. The mood was tense and you could tell there were a lot of MHS supporters who wanted to get their voice heard by the Board. It started with a 1981 graduate of MHS that has a son highly involved in the school. He made a point that Manteca High is known as the “ghetto” school. The administration, staff, and students are phenomenal, but we get a bad rep around the town because our facilities are falling apart. People from outside the school see this and automatically give the school a bad reputation. During the Block M basketball tournament during Christmas break at MHS the biggest question and complaint we got from parents is that the small gym is freezing. Welcome to Manteca High, I told them; there is no heat or air in that facility or any other facility connected. Really? No heat or air in a students’ learning environment? So we expect the students’ learning environment to either be freezing or unbearably hot?
That doesn’t seem fair or right. In addition, there is another common problem that students brought up at the meeting: The bathrooms are horrible, both in the stadium and on campus. And as if that weren’t enough, the lights themselves in Mulvihill Hall are being held up by not just 2-by-4s and chains, but also duct tape. I found that fitting because if you can’t duct it then….well this is PG.
Manteca High gets what is called a Block Grant. Now to keep it simple the Block Grant is the money given to the school from the District to improve the campus and other various needs. Now, the funny thing in my mind is knowing that our 96-year-old school gets the same amount of money that an 8-year-old school gets. Here is a term that I use all the time with this generation of Americans: We live in a kindergarten country. Instead of making the tough decision to rebuild one school, we must share equally throughout the entire district. In reality, fair isn’t necessarily equal. Another kindergarten sharing aspect of the meeting that did not make sense is the Measure G bond for modernization. I want the community to know that your pride and joy of a high school will be the 12th school to get money from Measure G to be modernized. We are the oldest school with the most needs and yet we are 12th? A third of the money is being used for the first five elementary schools. I’m sure another third will be used on the second round of five elementary schools. How much money will be left for us? MHS is slowly sinking towards our next door neighbor, the Rose Motel (now known as the Inn by the Station) , while the other schools are flourishing. We were told the 2017-2018 school year is the year for MHS modernization. That is only 18 months away. What are the plans for MHS? Are there any plans drawn out? Is there any way possible for the public to know what their taxpayer dollars are being used for? As Jerry Maguire famously stated, show me the money! Show us how our campus will be improved.
So as I finish ranting and raving about the poor status of our school there can only be one thing to do: Talk about how we can improve our campus. I was quoted in the paper about Garfield Avenue and the vagrants who walk by the students. Trust me, those are never fun, moving my class to the other side of the street and putting myself between my students and a guy on meth has happened multiple times. We need to close that road in order to make our school safer. This will give us plenty of space to rebuild Winter gym and Winter pool, create more space for practice fields, maybe even be able to have more than one baseball or softball field. Is there a possibility that we can use imminent domain for those hourly motels in our backyard that make our campus look even worse? We need the community to start asking these types of questions. We need those involved to give us more of a voice. We need the School Board and School District to understand just how much help we need. Don’t be afraid to voice your opinion, whether you are a parent, student, alumnus, teacher, or community member. I promise you that Manteca High has great kids, awesome teachers, and the best administration in the District. Now we just need the school to match. Roll on you Buffs!