OPINION: Why I think Manual is the best school in JCPS

Justin Farris

Throw the reputation in the dumpster and light the expectations on fire. These things aren’t bad, but they aren’t what makes Manual great. What sets Manual apart is its diversity, its freedom of academic choices and most importantly, an environment that’s accepting of everyone.


Manual is one of the most diverse schools in the state. According to JCPS’s own database, Manual comes second in diversity based on median income, adult educational attainment and percentage of non-white population. Manual scored a 2.4 on the one through three scale with a higher score meaning a school is more diverse. Eastern, with a 2.5, is the only school in JCPS more diverse than Manual. Male came in at a 2.2, and Ballard scored a 2.1.

Furthermore, Manual is very religiously and culturally diverse. Manual has students from many different races and cultural backgrounds. These differences allow students to become more open-minded and develop an understanding of others which prepares them well for the real world. 

Manual students perform, on average, the best in JCPS on the SAT and ACT, according to these JCPS documents: ACT scores, SAT scores.  This is largely due to the fact that Manual is allowed to hand-pick its students, which gives it an advantage over other schools. Manual averages 7.4 points higher than district average on the ACT, and 118 points higher in total points on the SAT. Manual scored an average 1478 on the SAT and an average 26.6 on the ACT. Ballard scored a 1323 total on the SAT and an average 0f 20.3 on the ACT, and Eastern scored a 1270 and 20.4 in those respective categories. Lastly, Male scored a 1282 total on the SAT and a 21.3 average on the ACT. These numbers all point to Manual students scoring highest on average in JCPS for standardized testing. 

It is important to note, though, that Manual is the only school JCPS that gets to hand select its student body, so our ACT and SAT scores are so high because we can select students that will likely do great. Other schools can select some students, but not all of their student body.


Manual also offers a wide range of classes and magnets. There are classes for nearly any interest. Manual offers its students a chance to pursue their specific interests, unlike many other schools. For example, Manual offers 30 AP classes and 120 electives, including 31 foreign language classes in four different languages. Keeping in mind that this number does not include basic magnet classes at Manual, which are also very specialized and very numerous, you can see that Manual has an extremely expansive variety of classes, from art to music to theatre to video to engineering to journalism, and the list goes on. It offers its students vast freedom of choice over their own educational growth. Male offers 26 AP classes and 45 electives under the criteria on their schedule here. Ballard offers 25 AP classes and 27 electives. Finally, Eastern has 22 AP classes and no directly apparent list of electives except a link on this page that leads to a 404 not found error.

This diversity of curriculum choices leads to another part of Manual’s appeal. It allows students to discover new interests. The scheduling freedom means that students have the chance to try out classes on many subjects, which widens the potential for the discovery of new interests in class. For example, I know that Manual has reinvigorated my interest in video and made me discover my love for drawing. Heck, I joined the J+C magnet to learn how to write better because I wanted to be a fiction author and discovered that I actually enjoy writing journalistically.


One factor that’s central to Manual’s greatness more than anything else is the community. The students and staff are almost universally kind and supportive, and Manual’s diversity means that just about anyone with any interests can find a group of other people inclined toward the same topic. There’s a team, group, or club for pretty much any recreational or academic niche. Video games, anime, almost any sport, literature and more that I could go on and on about. When I came here, I doubted that anyone would be interested in the same things as me, only to find out that many of those activities already have groups established in the school.

Lastly, we can look at the opinions of other Manual students. RedEye posted a survey on Twitter asking students what their favorite thing about Manual was.

“The amount of resources provided to help us be the best students we can be,” Kirsten Butler (11, J&C) said.

“How Manual has a place for everyone to be themselves. We can all express ourselves openly and freely without limitations,” Caroline Toller (9, HSU) said.

I think Manual is the best school in the state because of many factors. There’s a place for anyone here, and you can really do what you want and express yourself freely. It allows students to discover more about themselves with its diverse populace and numerous class choices. It allows students to start down a path tied to their interests and who they want to be. It is extremely welcoming and fun, and I think coming to Manual was the best choice I’ve ever made.