The first day of the academic year was marked by a special ending at Manual Academy yesterday.
A who’s who of Peoria turned out for the Stand For Manual event outside Peoria’s south side high school. They lined the long sidewalk that extends from the building and clapped and cheered for the students as they came out.
Derrick Booth is the director of Social Emotional Learning for Peoria Public Schools. He says it was a way to let each one of the students know they are important to their community.
“That’s what the whole purpose of this was, was just to show the students how much the community supports them, how much the community loves them, how much we are rooting for them, how much we’re proud of them, and we just want to see them successful throughout the school year,” Booth said.
He says sometimes Manual gets lost in the socio-economic realities and judgments associated with the city’s poorest zip code. “Despite what ever circumstances you are dealing with you still can be successful. You still can be great! You can be doctors and lawyers, whatever you put your mind to. We just wanted to high five them to today and tell them we believe in them.”
Booth says it’s important that all the students at Manual grasp the idea that their high school career means everything to their future. He says it’s also essential they know they have support and Stand For Manual was a community way of showing it.
Manual students came down the sidewalk one or two at a time getting high fives and words of support for a great school year. Expressions of surprise were common including when some of the teachers came through. That often gave way to smiles and sometimes laughter.
Manual’s Health Committee, one of the school's strategic planning groups created the Stand For Manual event. Peoria's Franklin Primary School also started its first day a similar event called 100 Men Strong.