The rain did not keep Manchester Proud supporters away on Tuesday, November 13 from their celebration at Veteran’s Park to honor donors, community partners, and volunteers who have joined the movement and are committed to the success of all public school students in the City of Manchester. Attendees included Mayor Joyce Craig, Manchester business owner, Arthur Sullivan, 2015 Citizen of the Year, Ellie Cochran, Superintendent Dr. Bolen Vargas, CEO of Manchester Chamber of Commerce, Mike Skelton, CEO of the Manchester Boys and Girls Club Diane Fitzpatrick, and other community leaders, business owners, families, and citizens.

West High School student, Kimiya Parker Hill, spoke to the crowd and encouraged students and families to share their experiences, needs, and hopes for Manchester schools through an online community survey, and the many school and community-based listening sessions taking place across the city.

“We need to have families who are willing to speak their mind. To speak about what the district can provide to help their students,” said Parker Hill. “I am Manchester Proud because there isn’t one student that should feel like school is a place where they are forced to go. It should be a place they want to go. I hope I can encourage families and students to fill out the community survey or attend a listening session and learn what it feels like to be Manchester proud.”

Carolyn Leary of the Manchester Young Professionals Network, a group who is responsible for attracting, retaining and developing a vibrant workforce in Manchester, spoke about the group’s recent endorsement of the Manchester Proud initiative,

“When young families choose to locate to any city, one of the first things they look at are the school systems and their ratings,” said Leary. “Strong schools in Manchester will allow our young workforce to continue to grow here and decide to call Manchester their home.”

The Manchester Proud initiative began last summer and has gained incredible momentum and support throughout the community. The group recently wrapped up canvassing over 2,000 homes across the city and has begun holding community and school-based listening sessions. They predict they will hold nearly 100 of these sessions in total to ensure that all stakeholders in the community have an opportunity to share their perspectives about Manchester and its schools.