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Students at Manual want to be heard — and they have a lot to say

Last month, Chalkbeat staff began to seek out the voices of Manual High School students: What are their experiences at school? What does Manual do well or not well for them as students? Ultimately, what about students’ experiences did we miss in our reporting?

This effort follows Chalkbeat’s special report, A Promise Unfulfilled, in which reporters Nic Garcia and Kate Schimel explored the factors that led Manual to go from a nationally watched model for transformation to, by some measures, Denver’s lowest-performing high school. We visited two leadership classes facilitated by Project VOYCE staff and joined a student-led forum addressing next steps for Manual students.  More details and a taste of what we heard, below.

Student-led forum

On a February afternoon, Chalkbeat staff joined a group of student-leaders who were eager to tackle tough conversations and have students’ ideas be a part of improving Manual High School. Students led conversations ranging from how they as students can help improve attendance, to how the school should expand its academic offerings, to the systemic social justice issues that play a role in Manual’s performance. These video clips provide a taste of what this student forum looked like.


Limited Resources


Contrast to Other Schools




Stop the Trial-and-Error


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A special thank you to videographer, Alicia Garcia for donating her time and energy and making it possible for us to share these clips with you.

About our First Person series:

First Person is where Chalkbeat features personal essays by educators, students, parents, and others trying to improve public education. Read our submission guidelines here.