By SAMANTHA PIDDE
The West Carroll School District will honor Savanna business owner Manny Castro during the 12th Annual Manny's Shootout this Saturday, Jan. 12, at the middle school gym.
The West Carroll School Board held a brief special meeting Thursday, Jan. 3, to officially approve dedicating the West Carroll High School gymnasium to Castro.
Board President Jerry Anderson said that ever since Castro opened his Manny’s Pizza restaurant 45 years ago in Savanna in 1973, he has been good for the area and the school district, "supporting our students, staff and all of the community."
Castro, 69, said Friday, Jan. 4, that he is "very touched to receive this honor,” noting that many times a dedication like this goes to a coach or teacher.
"I feel this award should be shared by the entire Manny's staff," an emotionally-touched Castro told the Times-Journal/Mirror-Democrat. "It's not only me making the decisions and doing the work to help out the school district."
While the Manny’s Shootout and dedication ceremony will be held at the middle school, the district has chosen to dedicate the WCHS gym in his name. Anderson and Supt. Julie Katzenberger said the high school gymnasium was chosen since Castro is from Savanna and graduated from Savanna High School in 1967. Katzenberger said they plan to have a sign or plaque with Castro's name in the gym at a later date.
Castro said it feels good to have the gymnasium he played in during his high school years dedicated to him. He played basketball his freshman year and wrestled his sophomore, junior and senior years in that gym.
"I've attended many events at that gym watching my children, grandchildren and family members,” said Castro. “I've helped when I could keeping score or selling tickets.”
Katzenberger and Anderson explained that the idea to dedicate the WCHS gymnasium to Castro evolved from a desire to thank him for his continuing support of the school district and community.
Katzenberger pointed out that Castro supported the recent tax referendum, is involved with sports, and hosted the WCHS Homecoming dinner and dance this year at his restaurant at no charge after the WCHS gym was damaged by heavy rains.
"He's just done really good things for our community," Katzenberger said.
Castro said his donations to the schools evolved from when his children were in school and they would donate to their class or team.
"It just grew from there," said Castro, adding, "I remember receiving generous donations when I was young boy in grade school and I am happy to be able to share with others."
He continued that they hope to continue donating to and assisting the district in the future.
"We are fortunate to have a good business and to give back,” he said. “It makes us feel good and know that students, staff and family appreciate what we do. We appreciate and thank the families of athletics that come to our business.”
The dedication ceremony is scheduled for 5 p.m., prior to the start of the West Carroll vs. Riverdale boys basketball game.
Manny's Shootout begins at 9:30 a.m. Saturday in the WCMS gym. Eight games are on tap for the day, including the West Carroll girls vs. Prince of Peace at 11 a.m.
In other business at the Jan. 3 special meeting, the West Carroll School Board:
•Heard from Supt. Katzenberger that the Illinois State Board of Education is offering a property tax relief grant which would abate a portion of a district's property taxes (for taxpayers). She said approximately $50 million could be allocated for the program. The ISBE has ranked the 868 Illinois school districts by income and other factors and West Carroll was ranked 458th. Katzenberger said that with this ranking, it is unlikely the district will receive any funds, but she felt it was worth applying for the grant to see if the district is eligible.
•Approved a first reading of the 2019-20 WCHS Course Handbook. The handbook included minor changes, including language reflecting the change from an eight-period day to a seven-period day, as well as more dual-credit course options.