About this Project

An Introduction to the Project

By Savanna Jones

Over the course of the last 8 years since reopening in 2006, Manual High School has undergone many changes. Ever since reopening, Manual hasn’t had a stable leadership, there have been four principals since 2006. The current graduating class of seniors have seen three different principals in their four years at Manual, and each principal has come in with their own plan of what will make Manual successful. The constant change in leadership, has lead to changes in the curriculum and a lot of teacher turnover. These changes have kept us from succeeding, and due to our low enrollment and low test scores the district wants to enforce even more change to Manual starting in the year 2015-2016.

There is a proposal for the neighboring East High School to take over the Manual campus and create a joint 9th grade academy. In addition to the 9th grade academy, Manual will also house a S.T.E.M. High School. Neither of the proposals are taking the Manual Thunderbolts into consideration. The scholars at Manual today are tired of the constant change. We are tired of people who don’t know us tinkering with our future and we are taking a stand.

Our current vision pushes us to not only be scholars, but also revolutionaries. Today we begin to actualize this vision. We have taken many courses of action to speak up and ensure that the district and our community know that we have voices that need to be heard. We have begun an I Choose Manual email and photo campaign. The email campaign consists of many students’ argumentative essays that we composed about whether or not the East/STEM proposal is the best option for Manual. We sent these to district officials, our administration, and East High School’s principal. We are doing this to advocate for our future. The student essays will be published on this website. Please read the essays and HEAR the voices of a community that has been silenced for too long. 

19 thoughts on “About this Project

  1. When I first heard about this series, it brought tears to my eyes. I attended Manual HS in the early 90’s and have seen it morph & change to district whims over the last two decades. Though I do not know any of these students, I am beaming with pride for them as I read their impassioned cries for recognition, respect, and a future at their neighborhood school. Well done!!

  2. I am so impressed by these scholars. They deserve access to a traditional community high school. DPS, how can you deny them this right? The historical integrity of Whittier is at stake. Manual High School is DENVER.

  3. Congratulations for taking your future back into your hands. I applaud you for your commitment and fire, and will come back to visit your site frequently in the coming days.

  4. Hello Manual High School Revolutionaries. As scholars and social justice change agents, I know you are taking the stand necessary to make the difference you need in your school and community. You leadership is needed. I not only commend you, but if you would like any assistance, please let me know. I called on you and your students back in 2010 when our district was going through a school closure process and 2 of your students came to speak to our district school board. Your alumni provided leadership and it assisted in keeping our schools open.
    Thank you,
    Antonette Aragon

  5. I couldn’t be more proud of these young man and women! Taking a stand is hard to do and not always popular. Keep it up; keep the pressure on! This is transformative education!

  6. I really can’t comprehend how special these 9th grade students are. When I was 15 I put as little effort as I could into school, while these students are using their classroom as a platform to take a stand and fight for a cause they believe in. What you all are doing is an inspiration to everyone who’s ever been rolled over or had their voice silenced. Stay loud, and keep fighting!

  7. Dear Students of Manuel High School
    I am a lawyer in San Diego, California. I read each and every one of your essays and as opposed to commenting on each separately, I want to address you as a group.
    I am so very impressed by each one of you. Your essays are clear, well thought-out and articulate. You each convey a clear commitment to your education, your community and to Manuel High. Although many of you suggest that Manuel might be thought of as a “lesser school” your writing suggests quite the opposite. Manuel has taught you much more than how to pass a standardized test – it has taught you to think. You demonstrate a clear understanding of the District’s proposal and the effect it could have on each of you. I am proud of each of you for recognizing your potential and demanding the right to attend a school that will most meet your needs and allow you to succeed. And yes, you are all worthy of more than a vocational education.
    Whatever is decided, continue to know that they might take away your school, but they can never take your dreams. I leave you with this – believe in yourselves, be proud of yourselves and continue to fight for your rights and for Manuel High!
    Best to you all – you are the bright lights of our future.
    Nancee Schwartz

  8. It is inspiring to find a group of young scholars willing to confront those who would choose to scatter their bonds of friendship, scholarship, and community. Life’s possibilities should be open and varied never restricted or dictated. The District may ignore your words but know that Manuel High’s student voice is in tune. Oorah – Thunderbolts!

  9. Hopefully the “suits” will do what’s best for the kids. I don’t have all the facts, but it seems that while this exercise could be a great life lesson, if not done properly, it could do some big time damage as well. Keep the essays coming and possibly right will out. It must be very frustrating to the teachers who are in the trenches everyday. My best!!!

  10. I am thoroughly impressed by your campaign and the work you have put in to make sure the district hears your voices. Hold them accountable and don’t stop fighting!

  11. I am so amazed by this project. Students — you are incredible leaders! It is very, very inspiring to read and see your power. You have SO much power. Viva la revolución!

  12. As a former DPS teacher who started my career at Manual where I met my wife and from where our youngest daughter is a graduate, I am so impressed with the eloquence of the prose of these students. They remind me of Maya Angelou because they articulated her grace, her openness, her love for humanity. Thunderbolts, take pride in your heritage and reclaim your school for the neighborhood.

  13. Transformational resistance is alive and well at Manual High School! Keep the essays and photos coming; they are incredibly powerful.
    Your ally in the work and in the revolution,
    Amber Kim

  14. I went to Manual high school and absolutely loved it. We had some really good Teachers that taught us all very well. Aside of what you may have heard, Manual was and will remain a great school! Please let our Legacy continue! I still remember our School song. “To our Dear Manual as we toast today and sing a song of praise. We’ll honor thee, and loyal thee, and love thee all of our days. Let every son and daughter stand United all of our ways. We’ll strive to glorify thy name, Dear Manual here’s to you.” #ManualAlumni #ClassOf2004 #ThunderboltsForever

  15. As A fellow T-Bolt, I have to say that had the school listened to the students back in the early 2000’s A lot of this could have been avoided. Toward the end of my senior year they were discussing the idea of the charter school set up. 3 Schools in 1. But they took it to far and of course it FAILED! Even thought the students AND the parents fought it. When are they going to listen to the students and the parents, and also the teachers. If we want to go against the grain here in social issues and say that people are individuals, and that the cookie cutter stereotype needs to end, why are we not seeing school progression for the individuals that are in the school rather than some cookie cutter test they have to pass? Keep fighting the fight T-bolts! Maybe they will finally listen!

  16. Please come out and Support Manual High School. There will be a meeting Monday, June 9th 2014 at 5:30 Discussing the Debrief and Next steps to keeping Manual High the same… Also if you are interested in helping try to get back our Vice principal now please find the web page ManualRevolutionaries on Facebook, find me on Facebook Carolina Natalia Gonzalez-Ramirez or Email me at CarolinaRamirez369@gmail.com

    Thank You Very much for your support
    CO. 2014

  17. My grandfather graduated from Manual High School in 1931. I worked at Manual as a science teacher for six years from 1999 through 2005. Manual is where I learned to be a teacher. I learned from some dedicated and caring mentor teachers and from some of the most amazing kids I’ve ever met. There have been ups and downs, good times and bad. After reading a few of the essays on this site, I have to believe that Manual is headed in the right direction. The writings were well researched and well written. I think the authors made their point. I was so disappointed when Manual shut its doors in 2006. The kids, the parents, the community members, and the staff were made promises and filled with rationalizations. You were lied to. Manual is not an experiment isolated in a test tube. It is a perfect example of the natural ebb and flow of a neighborhood school. I doubt my words will have any effect on decisions that are probably already made, but a city without the Manual High School Thunderbolts painful for me to imagine. Go Bolts!

  18. Hear that Thunder roar! This is exactly why the Thunderbolt identity cannot be erased. You all are onto something with this blog. It is proof that your voices exist when in the past student voice has been reduced to second hand media accounts of “rowdy, angry protesters.” You have chosen a new way to articulate your ideas in a public arena and I truly hope that your resistance will not be ignored. Continue to utilize the tools that are available to you to get your message out far and wide. Brainstorm about the people (locally/nationally/etc) who would be outraged to hear about this discrimination and make sure you polish this blog and get their eyes on it. Project VOYCE is down the street at 2900 Downing Street and we founded the organization in 2006 after Manual shut down to insert youth voice into school renewal. We have been working hard to make youth voice REAL and I encourage all of you to visit and partner with our student leaders to build this movement. Many of us are Thunderbolts ourselves and we feel the pain of Manual’s long-time “set up” for failure. You all raise VERY valid points that would be difficult to ignore after so many years of reform and obvious push-outs of critical leaders. Keep the Thunder roaring, we were built for this! Remember what makes us different! Remember this quote, “The strongest steel is forged by the fires of hell. It is pounded and struck repeatedly before it’s plunged back into the molten fire. The fire gives it power and flexibility, and the blows give it STRENGTH. Those two thing make the metal pliable and able to withstand every battle it’s called upon to fight.”

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