MANCHESTER, Conn. (WTNH) — News 8’s meteorologist Gil Simmons is on the go for his Homecoming Tour, where he visits a new high school every week. On Friday, he’s visiting Manchester High School.

MHS, founded in 1893, is home to the Red Hawks. Moe Morhardt, a member of the Chicago Cubs in the 1960’s, is a MHS graduate.

Principal Katelyn Miner said the staff loves to show off the school any chance they can. As a MHS graduate herself, as well as a mom of a student at the high school, she said she “couldn’t be more proud to have these students behind me.”

“We’re a special place,” Miner said. “We want you to explore and figure out what you’re passionate about, connect with the community here, and then get ready to go make a difference.”

She said “no matter who you are or what you’re interested in, we have something for you here,” noting that they have a fencing team, cooking classes, anime club, sports, and more “fascinating” programs.

The MHS Red Hawks football team has a game Friday, which one student said is “different,” noting that although they didn’t have a “great season,” they’re facing their rivals. They’re hoping to take back a trophy for the first time in four years.

“We’ve been a very good group all around, we’ve stuck together a lot,” another student on the football team said. “We haven’t had much injuries and we’ve been a good team.”

The varsity and junior varsity cheerleading team showed off some stunts, including tumbling. The coach said the team practices every day, they perform during the games, and also competes. The MHS cheer team said they’re hyped for the game tonight and they’re going to “bring the energy.”

MHS’s basketball team’s season is approaching. One of the players said the team has been together all summer and there are a lot of younger students ready to get on the court. He said the team is a “brotherhood.”

“We had a good season last year,” the player said. “We’re only looking to get better this season, though.”

The MHS dance team performs K-Pop, hip-hop, and Latin routines. They perform at basketball games, pep rallies, the Homecoming game, and other shows.

Alongside the sports teams, dancers, and cheerleaders is the marching band. The band’s director, Marco Cancellieri, said it’s been a really successful season.

“In a way, it has been a reboot for us,” Cancellieri said. “COVID wiped out the marching band. Thanks to the efforts of middle school joining our high school this year, we were able to bring back the marching band, do some competitions, do the football games. It has been a great season.”

This year’s show theme is Pirates of the Caribbean. They performed part of their final number.

Some students are working to make a difference in the lives of their fellow students. One program, the Fighting Against Common Teen Substance Abuse (FACTS), is a part of a bigger drug prevention organization in the town. A student of the program said they’re making a difference because every day, drug addictions are increasing.

FACTS is set to conduct a vaping prevention presentation at the middle school soon.

The EPSA program allows students to get a head-start in their teaching careers. The classes are centered around children and ways to help or build the classroom.

“If I do become a teacher, it gives me the opportunity to know how to problem-solve with kids and other things like that,” one student said.

The drama club just had their opening night of “Girls” on Thursday. They’ve been rehearsing for the play for two and a half months.

“Opening night was great,” one student said. “It’s always amazing to feel like your first night of the show is the best run you’ve ever done, and there was such great chemistry between the cast. We’re really proud of it.”

The drill team also performed.

Students are proud of other programs at the school including culinary and health/hospital initiatives.

At the Medical Careers Academy, students learn in a classroom that’s set up like a hospital. Students are in a Certified Nursing Program. Some of the classes offer UConn credits, and they partner with Manchester Fire and Rescue for an EMT program.

After graduating MHS, students have gone on to pursue their passions. The director of the program said that one former student is working at Manchester Hospital as a radiology technologist. Another graduate is working at a nursing home in Rocky Hill.

On Friday, November 25, the school will participate in a blood drive. The director said the drive is a partnership with the community and the school is assisting. During last year’s drive, they were able to gain 330 pints of blood. Interested participants can register here.

Some students in the program became CPR certified a few days ago.

The culinary classroom allows students to cook food for the teachers. On Thursday, students made chicken alfredo and espressos.

“I like the teamwork that comes with it,” a student in the cooking program said. “It kinda feels like a big family in the inside.”

On Friday’s menu is mac and cheese and chicken wings.

Learn more about MHS and its programs here.