August 2022

Missing Van

Editor's Note

By Brad Kava

The school year is starting out sadly at Watsonville’s Pajaro Valley High School. The school’s only van—a beloved seven-passenger Ford, nicknamed “Grizzly Van” — was stolen from the campus in July.
he white van was a fixture for the 1,650-student school, transporting classes, special ed students and athletes to events. It was last used on a Saturday to take members of the football team to Monterey for training.

The next day it was gone.

“At first I felt disbelief,” says Athletic Director Joe Manfre. “Nobody is going to steal a van from a high school. We’re across the freeway from most people and you have to go out of your way to come up here. Someone had to have this premeditated. I was shocked.”
The 2007 van is like an advertising billboard for the school, with logos on the sides and a big grizzly in front. The school’s logo is a Grizzly and its teams are the Grizzlies.

“No one is going to ride that around town,” says Manfre. “I assume they took it to a shop and were stripping it down.”

Pajaro Valley, the newest high school in the county, which opened in 2004 and serves many low-income students, doesn’t have a strong alumni network yet and has had to struggle for the things that have come naturally for other schools. Watsonville High, for example, has 10 vans.

Manfre says things were looking up before the theft. Watsonville GMC donated $10,000 to the school to buy another van and the district was working on getting funds for another. He thought they’d have three this year. Instead, there are none.
“We aren’t where we need to be, especially with the price of cars,” says Manfre.
What can we do? This would sure be a great time for a car dealer to pitch in some more or come up with a van. It would also be great for people to donate to help the kids get to where they need to be for off-campus education and games.
You can reach the Athletic Director at [email protected] and maybe give the school some good news before its August opening. Growing Up in Santa Cruz will publicize every donation, which would be like a free ad for you.

Speaking of starting school in August…whatever happened to starting school after Labor Day? We know this enables a long winter vacation so people can visit families then, but starting in the heat of the summer just feels wrong to us. Do you agree? Send your comments to [email protected]

Thanks for reading!
Brad Kava

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