Christel House Manual athletic director Nolen Dowling, left, and assistant athletic director Robert Orkman are all smiles as the first day of school approaches on Aug. 4. Most teams will compete in IHSAA Class 3A as the “Eagles” instead of “Redskins.” Below, the message board in front of the school on South Madison avenue shows the official full name of the Christel House charter/innovative Indianapolis Publlc Schools merger. Christel House Watanabe High School at Emmerich Manual High School will be known commonly as Christel House Manual.
A new high school is emerging on the near-Southside with a 126-year history.
The changes at Emmerich Manual High School are dramatic as well as far-reaching into the future of the 68-year campus on Madison Avenue and Pleasant Run Parkway. Last year after eight years of being operated as a state-mandated charter school, EMHS was approved by the state to be operated by Christel House and as an innovative school of Indianapolis Public Schools.
EMHS officially is now known as Christel House Watabe Manual High School and will be easier identified publicly as Christel House Manual. The students from Christel House, grades K-12, will be educated on the EMHS campus with those students in grades 11-12.
The school’s high school athletic teams will compete as the “Eagles” in IHSAA Class 3A in most sports as Manual’s traditional nickname “Redskins” goes in the history books. The two high school’s competed separately last year with the Christel House Eagles in Class A and Manual Redskins in Class 3A.
“The offerings, academics and athletics, are exciting,” Christel House Manual athletic director Nolan Dowling said Monday. “Great opportunities lie ahead for the students.”
Dowling said that school will offer football, coed soccer, volleyball, cross country, boys and girls basketball, wrestling, track and field, and cheerleading for the 2021-2022 school year that begins Aug. 4.
Assistant athletic director Robert Orkman, who has coached at EMHS for six years, will continue to coach boys basketball. Last year, EMHS did not have enough players for teams in baseball, volleyball, and boys and girls soccer. EMHS advanced three wrestlers to the IHSAA regionals.
Orkman, a former EMHS football coach, said the number of football players increased for the upcoming season with 38 players reporting. He expects a larger number of students to try out for all sports.
“Both schools have diverse student populations,” said Orkman. “We expect to be able to grow all (athletic) programs.”
Dowling, a former Western Kentucky University football player, was more emphatic when stating, “There is a proud athletic history here, but that was many years ago. We want to build a new history of success on the Southside.”
Three schools combined into Christel House Manual are: Christel House South, K-8; Christel House Watanabe, 9-12; and EMHS, 11-12. Manual juniors and seniors will receive EMHS diplomas. Christel House also offers an evening school for adults that will expand to a daytime option in 2022-2023.
ROTC, graphic arts, photography, welding, band and some dual-credit classes are among the offerings at Christel House Manual.
A quick walk through the newly-named Christel House Manual reveals workers who have been busy renovating the main classroom building since January. Christel House Academy and the adult high school also will be separated. First floor classrooms are being renovated for kindergarten through second-grade students. An existing courtyard is to be turned into a school playground.
The gymnasium reveals the past with a red “M” in the middle of the hardwood court and the future with a scorer’s table from the home of the Christel House Eagles.
“Right now, we’re doing the best we can to merge schedules while looking at previous commitments of Christel House and Manual,” Dowling said. “It’s a challenging process, but it is going smoothly.”
An eight-game CHM football schedule has been put together by Dowling four home games at Ray Schultz Field.
CHM has a unique history.
The Industrial Training School at 525 S. Meridian St. opened in 1895 and was renamed Manual Training School in 1899 and Charles E. Emmerich Manual Training High School in 1916 in honor of the first principal of the Industrial Training School. The school was relocated to its current site at 2405 S. Meridian St., with the former site renamed Harry E. Wood Vocational Training School that operated until 1978.
Christel House was founded in 1998 by the late Christel DeHaan and expanded to five different learning centers by 2002.
Dr. Sarah Weimer serves as executive director of Christel House Schools, including the current transition of combining EMHS with Christel House on the EMHS campus. She spearheaded the partnership with IPS as an innovation school and Christel House as a charter.