Manor students give Pres. Obama warm welcome


by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist SCOTT McKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

Posted on May 9, 2013 at 11:26 AM

Updated Saturday, Nov 9 at 7:29 PM

MANOR, Texas -- For students at Manor New Tech High School, the visit from the president of the United States is still sinking in.

"The most powerful man on earth is like here in our school. We think, 'Oh yeah we're just some little rural town but he's here," one student told KVUE. "That's just so amazing!"

"I was thinking is this a joke? Am I dreaming? Is it actually happening?" said senior Taylor Jacko. "Then I was like this is reality and this is at my school right now!"

Introducing the president was Manor New Tech senior Tevyn Washington. He told us when he heard he would have the job, the first person he told was his mother.

"She was so happy, she started screaming," said Washington. "And I was like, 'Okay calm down, calm down!' She was like, 'I have to tell!' And I said, 'You can't tell anybody!'"

Diagnosed with dyslexia in the third grade, Washington now has his sights set on college. During his introduction, he told the crowd his graduation will be a victory.

"Ever since I found out, I kind of was embarrassed by it," Washington told KVUE regarding his dyslexia. "But after coming to New Tech, I learned how to embrace my disability and face it head on instead of running away from it or using it as a crutch."

"I feel like it sets a good example," said Washington. "If you're battling a learning disability or anything like that, you can always triumph and beat it."

Astronomy teacher Spencer Martin says the success of students like Washington is due in part to the school's focus on project-based learning.

"It's really a lot of hands-on, student led critical thinking education," explained Martin. "It really gives the students a lot of ownership of learning."

"We actually do hands-on things like engineering, that's a big thing here," said sophomore Alexus Krotzer. "I really wish my friends at the other high school and high schools around that they could have the same opportunity, because in the future it's all going to be technology."

"It's more like if you mess up on this one, try, try again," said sophomore Brandi Hennington, who told KVUE prefers the approach at New Tech to "busy work" emphasized by other schools. "It's more encouraging to go here."

State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) says it's all part of a bigger equation.

"Austin has emerged from being a college town where state government was the dominant part of our economy to a true focal point in a worldwide information and knowledge economy," said Watson. "We are providing the sorts of education and then creating the sorts of job opportunities where we can attract and then retain the talented workforce we need."

For the students, it's a day to remember.

"Forever," said Krotzer. "For the rest of my life."

"It was just a really humbling and honoring experience," said Washington. "And something I'll never forget."