We recently met Alicia Parker, a longtime resident of Manchester, and her daughter Kimiya, a student at West High School. They joined Manchester Proud last month to canvass their neighborhood. Below, they share about the experience, and why they are part of the Manchester Proud effort.
The reason I chose to be a part of Manchester Proud is because of my strong belief in public education. I heard about Manchester Proud through an email I received from the principal of Manchester West High School, Mr. Richard Dichard. The email was an invitation to canvass and talk with people in the community to find out how they feel about our city and our schools.
I asked my daughter, who is a junior at West High School if she was interested. She was, and we spent a beautiful Saturday afternoon speaking with some very supportive citizens from the West side of Manchester.
I strongly believe that a school is what the community makes it, and this community is made up of students, teachers, families, and most important – all the residents living in the surrounding neighborhoods.
I have lived here for 20 years and have seen some major changes happen in our city during this time. Some good, some not so good. My son graduated from the Manchester School District. He went on to attend a prestigious college and has returned to Manchester to give back to a community he believes in. He is now a teacher, a coach, and a local business owner. As a child, I was in the Metco program, where I had to be bussed an hour away, just to receive a quality education. As a mother, I know how important it is that my children receive that kind of quality education, right here in our own neighborhood, and that is why I am a supporter of Manchester Proud and encourage other families to join this effort.
As a student, I am always looking for volunteering opportunities. When I received the email about Manchester Proud, I was all ears. I began to look into the organization and learn what canvassing was. When I realized that I had to knock on people’s doors I was debating if I should go through with it or not. I talked to my mom about it and realized “Hey, this is something that I just need to jump into”. Not many young adults are willing to go out, door to door, and speak to their community, but that’s not the case for me. I believe that in order for the school system to change, we need to understand what community members think the public schools are doing right and what they are doing wrong.
Because I have been a student in the Manchester public school system for 11 years, I get to see firsthand what the school system is doing wrong and what they are doing right. At times during canvassing, it was hard to hear that so many residents believe that the school system is perfect. But this is what it’s all about — listening to one another.
Another reason I wanted to be involved in Manchester Proud is that I have always been a strong advocate for education. I think in order to fully succeed in life, it starts with the right education. In order for my peers to understand, this step it starts with teens like me who are willing to be the leaders. In order for my peers to get the education they want and deserve, it starts with the one person their age to show them “Hey it’s okay to get out in the community!” You don’t need to be confined to the walls of your elementary school, middle school, or high school. Education is not just going to school and then going home and doing homework. I believe that with Manchester Proud it will show students that there is so much more to an education and so many willing to make sure our public schools put us on the path to the future we want for ourselves.
There are many ways to become part of the Manchester Proud effort. To share your thoughts on living, working, and/or going to school here, complete our community survey. If you are interested in canvassing with us, RSVP here. Follow us on Facebook to get the latest news about our work and events we are hosting around the city!