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New class of five inductees enters EUSD Hall of Fame
Hall inductees
Inducted into the Escalon Unified School District Hall of Fame in a Friday evening program, May 24, were, from left, Roger Beeman, Bob Loureiro, Teresa Backovich accepting on behalf of her late husband Mike Backovich, Art Sanguinetti, and Dave Mantooth. Marg Jackson/The Times

Teachers, coaches, administrators … mentors.

It was a superb class of inductees on Friday night, with five new names added to the existing list in the Escalon Unified School District Hall of Fame.

The May 24 dinner and ceremony was hosted in the Performing Arts Center on the high school campus. Michael Backovich was a posthumous inductee; the longtime teacher and coach passed away in February of 2017. His son Marc accepted the award on his behalf while his wife Teresa posed for photos with the other inductees, a line up of stellar EUSD personnel including Roger Beeman, Bob Loureiro, David Mantooth and Art Sanguinetti.

Serving as greeters as the crowd arrived were members of the high school’s EMT/Fire Science class. Floral centerpieces on the tables were crafted by members of the school’s floral class and were door prize items given away at the conclusion of the evening. Prior to the ceremony, attendees were welcomed by Escalon Unified School District Superintendent Ricardo ‘Ricky’ Chavez and entertainment was provided by the Escalon High School band and choir, including a sing along with the audience of the EHS alma mater.

“Ladies and gentlemen and honored guests,” Chavez said, “good evening and welcome to the third Escalon Unified School District Hall of Fame. I want to thank you for your attendance and helping celebrate this joyous occasion.”

School board members served as presenters for the evening, highlighting the recipients. The only board member unable to attend was Board President Nick Caton. Those on hand to take part were Vice President Kate Powell, Clerk John Largent and trustees Martha Coelho and Sal Reyes.

Once the attendees made their way along the buffet line for dinner and had a chance to start eating, the formal induction ceremony began.

John Largent took the podium first, offering remarks about the late Mike Backovich.

“He truly cherished his time here and his dedication to Escalon students and athletes was evident in every aspect of his work,” Largent said. “One of Mike’s proudest accomplishments was winning the boys basketball CIF Sac-Joaquin Section championship in 2005. This victory was particularly special because it was achieved with his son Marc and players he had coached at a young age. Mike also took pride in his contributions to the EHS football team where his efforts helped secure multiple championships.”

The victories, Largent added, were “not just about the trophies” but also about the camaraderie shared in working toward a common goal. His spirit remains “an integral part” of Escalon, Largent added about Backovich, because of the long-lasting impact he made on many athletes who in turn went on to become teachers and coaches for the district, such as Andrew Beam and Nate Bartelink.

Accepting the award in his father’s honor was Marc Backovich, who said it was a joy to look around and see so many familiar faces in the crowd.

“Living in this town and seeing all the people around here, and all the extended family we have, I just wish he was here to accept this,” Backovich said of his father.

Offering remarks about inductee Roger Beeman was Kate Powell.

She noted that he started his teaching career in Hollister and after five years, in 1988, he had the opportunity to come back to Escalon and teach. Here, he began teaching English and physical education, along with coaching JV basketball, boys and girls tennis, freshman football and track and field.

In speaking with him prior to the ceremony, Powell also said Beeman noted the critical role his wife Ardell played, driving students to meets when needed, assisting on campus with track meets and more. He also pointed with pride to the fact that his children followed in his footsteps and entered the education – and in many cases, coaching – field.

Accepting his award, Beeman said one of the things he is most proud about is that the name ‘Escalon’ is well known in the athletic world, with people remembering playing them in a specific game or watching an Escalon team win a title. He also said going in to education gave him a chance to make a difference.

“To know that you have some sort of an impact, positive impact, on somebody’s life, we’re all in this because we figured that out a long time ago,” Beeman said of the satisfaction of teaching and coaching. “There are some places, that we all know, that you don’t want to admit that’s where you live or work. I’m proud, every day, to hear people say, Escalon High? Yeah, that’s us.”

Martha Coelho offered remarks following her meeting with Dave Mantooth, describing him as a “remarkable individual who has dedicated his life” to education and community service.

“Dave began his journey in education with an unwavering belief in the transformative power of teaching,” Coelho said. “Dave found his calling in education; he was profoundly impacted by the caring and supportive teachers he encountered and he has spent his career paying that kindness forward.”

She said he pointed to a financial crisis in the district that began in 2008 as one of the most challenging times of his career; he was district superintendent then and had to deal with budget cuts handed down by the state, working to maintain staff and crucial services to students.

His career included time as a teacher, high school principal, assistant superintendent and district superintendent.

“When I came to Escalon in 1990 as the high school principal, I inherited a staff that included the other four people being honored tonight,” Mantooth said in accepting his award at the podium. “What a great start for me, it gave me a chance to be successful. Mike was probably the most competitive person I ever met. Art was the favorite teacher of both my kids. Roger shares an incredible love for track that we both continue, we do track meets together, with his son Brian; and Bob, I learned so much from him; he taught me a lot about sports, taught me a lot about Escalon and he was always there supporting me in my earliest days.”

He said it was an “incredible honor” to be inducted and take a spot alongside the other members of the Hall of Fame.

Chavez then took the podium, reading remarks prepared by Nick Caton regarding Bob Loureiro, a teacher and coach who led Escalon to 605 baseball victories during his tenure.

“He taught my father, myself and my kids,” Chavez read from Caton’s speech. “Three generations of my family have been fortunate enough to have him in the classroom as a teacher and as a coach.”

His many accomplishments were outlined, along with his journey from the small Enterprise School – which does not exist anymore – to college, teaching and coaching. He began his career at Sonoma Valley High School but returned to Escalon in 1961 to work with his mentor, Lloyd Engel. Loureiro taught at EHS for 37 years, spent 25 years as Athletic Director while coaching football for 16 years and baseball for 42. He has been elected into the CIF Sac-Joaquin Section Hall of Fame and the California Baseball Hall of Fame.

“I really appreciated being here, I enjoyed being in school here, graduated in 1955,” Loureiro told the crowd of his early days in Escalon. “I’m really honored to be here and am enjoying everything about being here.”

Final honor of the evening was for Art Sanguinetti, with Sal Reyes offering the remarks.

“It is a great honor and privilege to introduce a man whose dedication and passion for education has left an indelible mark on our community,” Reyes said. “Over the years Art has been a pillar of the Escalon Unified School District and his career is a testament to his unwavering commitment to excellence and the profound impact he has had on generations of students.”

Reyes noted Sanguinetti’s “ability to adapt” to changing standards for teaching while keeping classes engaging and inspiring to students was key to his success.

“One of the most rewarding accomplishments in Art’s career was his ability to consistently deliver a high-quality educational experience,” Reyes added. “He took great pride in creating a classroom environment that was both challenging and supportive, allowing students to thrive academically.”

Like those recognized before him, Reyes said that many of Sanguinetti’s former students have gone on to became teachers for the district. During his tenure, it is estimated that Sanguinetti taught history to roughly 65 percent of the community of Escalon.

“He loved witnessing the development and success of his students, seeing them grow from young learners into successful adults,” Reyes said. “His structured classroom environment was a hallmark of his teaching style, reflecting his driven and dedicated approach to education.”

For his part, Sanguinetti was appreciative of the honor, offering just a few remarks when he took the microphone.

“I want to thank you all; I have never received an award of this type,” Sanguinetti said. “Thank you.”

Stepping back to the podium to wrap up the festivities, Chavez offered thanks to Emma Barba for coordinating the event and once again praised the five new inductees.

“Your hard work, dedication and unwavering commitment to excellence has set the benchmark for all of us,” he said. “You’ve not only achieved greatness but have also paved the way for future generations to follow. Tonight, we celebrate not just your achievements but the values of determination, integrity and passion that you embody.”

Plaques recognizing this year’s inductees will be added to those already in the hallway outside the Performing Arts Center.

Previous inductees to the Hall of Fame have included Lloyd C. Engel, Jacob C. Klessens, James L. Prichard, Gerald L. Barton, Patricia Coslet, Audrey Mensinger Gillispie, Edward Patrick Mulvihill and Seward H. Smith.

r chavez
Serving as Master of Ceremonies for the Friday evening Hall of Fame induction was Escalon Unified School District Superintendent Ricardo Chavez. Marg Jackson/The Times