Manual High School (Denver)

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Manual High School
1700 East 28th Avenue, Denver, CO 80205
Coordinates 39°45′24″N 104°58′03″W / 39.75654°N 104.96744°W / 39.75654; -104.96744Coordinates: 39°45′24″N 104°58′03″W / 39.75654°N 104.96744°W / 39.75654; -104.96744
Type Public
Established Since 1894
School district Denver Public Schools

Nickolas Dawkins

Grades 9–12
Color(s) Blue and Red         
Athletics conference Denver
Mascot Thunderbolts[2]
Information (720)-423-6441[3]

Manual High School is located in the Whittier neighborhood on the east side of Denver, Colorado.


Since 2014 it has been reported that Manual High School has about 500 students where 60 percent of the student body is Latino and 30 percent is African-American.

Manual Today[edit]

Manual High School graduated their first senior class in 2011 since re-opening from closure in the spring of 2006. With Manual's graduating class of 2011 they show the renewed preparation for making students college bound. Manual high school has made a commitment to leave no T-Bolt behind and to do “whatever it takes to ensure that students stay in school and are prepared for success in college, career and in life.”

Since re-opening, Manual High School has had 4 graduating classes (2011, 2012, 2013, 2014).


Manual High School is one of the oldest schools in the area. The original building was located near the current one, and opened its doors in 1892, an institution deeply woven into the fabric of the community. Manual was also one of the first schools in Denver, Colorado to educate African-Americans.

Once a model of educational excellence and community, Manual High School fell on hard times after the school district ending bussing for integration. Test scores dropped and gang related violence troubled the school and community. For these reasons, the Denver Public Schools (DPS) administrators made drastic changes to Manual. In 2006, after several failed attempts to fix the problems, Manual High School was closed. When the decision was made public, several hundred students from Manual High School rallied outside the headquarters of Denver Public Schools to protest. Students were disappointed and angry because they couldn't finish the rest of their school year.

Students shouted "Hell, no. We won't go" and "Go T-Bolts" as they marched for about an hour in sub-freezing temperatures outside DPS headquarters at 9th and Grant. Some students suggested that the decision to close Manual was motivated by race. In the end, the displaced Manual students were given the option of attending other higher performing schools. The school then reopened in fall of 2007.

A 2007 article by Katherine Boo in The New Yorker described efforts by then-superintendent of school Michael Bennet to turn the school back to a high performance high school.

Manual High School was re-opened in the fall of 2007, starting with a freshman class in the 2007-2008 school year, then adding a class of students every year thereafter. In the 2010-2011 school year, Manual was once again a 9-12 grade high school. Dr. Robert Stein, a Manual graduate and top school leader in Colorado, was tapped to lead the new Manual High School in 2007. Stein created a new program for the school modeled after high-performing charter schools where student's performance data is scrutinized and students must follow clear guidelines for behavior. This program was a success for the first three years, and helped Manual to post the third-highest growth in test scores in the city. But after 3 years, Stein left the school in 2010.

Joe Sandoval led the school for the 2010-2011 school year, until administrators of DPS could find a principal for the school. For the 2011-2012 school year, the principal selection committee chose Brian Dale, former principal of Bruce Randolph, to lead the school.

Dale was asked to leave Manual High School in 2014, after a dramatic drop in test scores and overspending on the experiential learning program model that was implemented. Don Roy took his place as the interim principal while a new one was selected through an intensive process informed, in part, by the Thought Partner Group, a committee of Manual alumni, community members, parents, and stakeholders. The result of this process was the selection of Nick Dawkins to lead the school starting in the fall of 2015. Mr. Dawkins is a native of the community, a DPS graduate, and a high achieving career-DPS educator.

Notable Alumni[edit]

The first black mayors of Denver, Wellington Webb, and Seattle, Norman Rice; boxer, poet, and activist Rodolfo "Corky" Gonzales; Current Denver mayor, Michael B. Hancock; writer Ted Conover and National Public Radio correspondent Scott Horsley. Manual has excelled at basketball and baseball where they have produced players such as Micheal Ray Richardson, Billy Lewis, Daniel Banuelos/Cortez, who went on to play college baseball, and LaVon Williams, who went on to a second career as a celebrated wood carver.

During WW II at least 50 Manual men and one teacher, Richard Orange, gave their lives in service. Unfortunately, no complete and accurate honor roll record could be kept of the men who served, but presumably the roll call would include a major fraction of all graduates of the 1930s and 1940s.

The first black VP at Information Handling Services - IHS a world leader in Engineering and Energy standards (Mark Hutchinson class of 1980) Mark achieved back to back "Exceptional" performance ratings by Vicki Raeburn Phd for delivering multi-million dollar operational expense reductions, driving efficiency gains and unlocking resource productivity.



External links[edit]