Manny Scott returns to Palatine


Aakash Shah

Manny Scott, one of the original Freedom Writers, speaks to Palatine High School students about life’s challenges.

Tess O'Brien, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Pensive silence filled the hallways of Palatine High School as the student body filed out of the main gym. The poignant mood only increased as the day continued. After all, it’s hard to be happy after hearing a speech from one of the original Freedom Writers.

Domestic violence, abuse, and violent deaths are things that high school students, or anyone for that matter, should not have to deal with. For Freedom Writer Manny Scott- and as made apparent by his speech on Oct. 5, several Palatine students- these situations were the norm growing up.

But while Scott has already risen above these ordeals, many of Palatine’s very own are dealing with them right now. Scott has made it his goal to show these students that they are not alone.

To prove his point, part of his speech consisted of a game. Scott would name a situation, and if it applied to a student, then they would have to stand up. Starting off with a light-hearted, “stand up if you like Hannah Montana” command, he progressed deeper and deeper, eventually asking students to, “please rise if you’ve gotten hurt for trying to protect your mother from domestic violence.”

Seeing classmates, or even friends, stand up for these statements was a surprise to many, and it became difficult to find a dry eye in the crowd.

“It wasn’t what I was expecting,” sophomore Kiki Herbst said.

The revelations brought up in Scott’s presentation were especially shocking for those who hadn’t heard Scott’s speech before. In 2012, Scott visited Palatine to give this speech, meaning that the only ones who had any previous expectations were the current seniors and teachers. When hearing that Scott would be returning, there were mixed feelings throughout the senior class- most were positive, but there were some dissenters.

“Although [the speech] is powerful, I don’t like the part afterwards where everyone is crying,” senior Hannah Tipper said.

However, after Scott’s speech, the general opinion was uniform: the presentation was moving, but his first visit was much better. Maybe it was because students had no previous expectations, or because he had more time in the 2012 presentation, but students and teachers alike found the first one more impactful.

“It was missing his personal story that he shared with us a few years ago,” social studies teacher Emily Hamman said. “It really made people realize that he did understand what they were going through and gave them hope that they could overcome it, and I think that was missing from the speech on Monday.”

Even without Scott’s personal story, the assembly was touching and left students with a new appreciation for one another. He encouraged each student to thank the people in their lives that help them get by, shared unique stories about the lives he’s changed, and advised people who may be struggling to find help. He showed the student body that suffering now does not equate suffering for life.

Scott changed Palatine High School, and it was for the better.