OLD TOWN — Students both beginning and ending their tenure at Manierre Elementary got a boost from a nonprofit student-athlete group Monday.
Buddy's Helpers, which draws on Chicago-area high school student athletes and coaches "Making a Difference On and Off the Field," gave two $10,000 college scholarships to Manierre eighth-graders, as well as bicycles and new shoes to more than 100 students in kindergarten through second grade.
Some 300 student athletes, coaches and administrators from high schools across the city and suburbs were at Manierre, 1420 N. Hudson Ave., on Sunday to put the bikes together, organize the shoes and arrange snack packs for each of the 107 students in kindergarten through second grade at the school. Soccer players from the St. Viator High School girls' team from Arlington Heights helped present the bikes to Manierre students Monday.
Principal Derrick Orr called it "a day for our students to really celebrate all the wonderful things they've accomplished and how important it is ... that they've done the work."
Orr added, "They come to school every day and they work hard, and it's time to reward them."
Manierre was randomly selected from a list of low-income Chicago schools for what Buddy's Helpers called "a special gift," with a net worth of almost $30,000. Now in its second year, the organization also cited how Manierre was fully deserving, with 99.7 percent of its students coming from low-income families.
Since surviving Chicago Public Schools' closing of 50 school four years ago in an 11th-hour reprieve, Manierre has improved its performance to the point where it's closing in on being recognized as "in good standing" with the district at the end of the current school year.
It has also been in the news lately for an annual college trip organized by Orr as a way to keep eight-graders in school with a goal in mind going forward. The school raised money necessary to meet a deadline payment for the trip earlier this month, and a GoFundMe campaign to pay for the trip and other school programs recently met its $25,000 fundraising goal.
Orr received an additional $1,000 check for the trip from Buddy's Helpers on Monday. Some 25 students and 10 staff members leave on the trip to Los Angeles, New Orleans and Miami at the end of next week.
In addition to all kindergartners through second-graders receiving bikes and shoes Monday, eighth-graders Davyanna Powell and Yarmell Ruffin both received $10,000 college scholarships from Buddy's Helpers. They were selected by Orr on the basis of attendance and grades. The money will be kept in a trust until it's sent directly to the colleges they attend.