A Conversation with Manu Raju


When did you graduate from Eisenhower Junior High School?

June 1994

What grades did you attend in District 61?

Kindergarten through 8th grade

Please let us know any special memories of your time spent at Mark DeLay and Eisenhower Junior High?

These were formative years of my life and ones I value greatly. I have life-long friends and great memories from Mark DeLay and EJH.

At Mark DeLay, my childhood home was next to the baseball field and parking lot. So I could walk right out my backdoor and be at school. I spent so much time at Mark DeLay – whether it was playing on the playground, getting games together with friends in the baseball field, shooting hoops in the outdoor basketball court or sledding down the hill behind the school.

Some memories stick out. I remember walking to school on my first day of Kindergarten with Ms. Bindas, being nervous on my first day but then meeting friends I kept through high school and some to this current day. I remember meeting our (very tall) principal, Mr. Gray. I remember third grade with Miss Bergenthal. The sock hop dance in 5th grade.

Running in cross country in fourth grade. Being on the flag football team in 5th and 6th grade. Sixth grade basketball in particular was an amazing memory – when I remember friends created a sign saying: “Manu Raju fan club.”

At Eisenhower for 7th and 8th grade, I have fond memories of playing on the basketball team and 16-inch softball team. I remember woodshop class in 8th grade where we learned how to use heavy machinery and equipment. Our trip to Washington was a memorable one — and taking a picture in front of the Capitol (where I ended up working every day). I got the Spanish award in 7th grade. Will never forget going to Taco Bell after EJH dances – and the line at Taco Bell would be out the door and through the parking lot.

Who were some of the memorable teachers you had and why?

Ms. Kelly – Sixth grade teacher. She was such a great teacher. Really knew how    to connect with students. I remember how she taught us very complicated subjects including when we were learning about the Holocaust and Nazi Germany. She spent the day being very mean to some students and being nice to other students. No one knew what was going on, and the students were rattled. But by the end of the day, she explained it to us: She had decided to be mean to the students with light hair and nice to the students with dark hair. That really helped kids understand what it’s like to be discriminated against and understand why that’s wrong.

Mr. Feind – P.E. teacher and sports coach at Mark DeLay. Was very direct and a good coach. You always knew where you stood with him.

Mr. Havelka – a great coach and Social Studies teacher at EJH. Really terrific basketball coach.

Ms. Asa – Spanish teacher in 7th and 8th grade. She was an excellent teacher. To this day, I remember many of the fundamentals of Spanish from her classes.

What clubs, sports or extracurricular activities were you involved in?

I played on the Mark Delay football, basketball, softball teams. I did cross country one year with Mark DeLay.

At Eisenhower, I played basketball, softball and was involved with Student Council.

Did you receive any special recognition or awards, or are proud of any personal accomplishments in school?

I won the Spanish award in 1994 – my name is on a plaque still on the wall at EJH!

If you could say anything to the current students of Darien District 61, what would that be?

Be confident in your actions and try not to worry what other kids may say about you. Sometimes kids can be mean and that can hurt your feelings. But do the best you can to ignore that stuff. It will go away. Just do what you think is right and you’ll be better off for it!

And as you grow in your life, do what interests you – whether it’s sports, school, activities or a job. And if it’s hard, don’t give up. Keep trying and you may get better at it. But if you don’t end up liking it, it’s no big deal! But at least you tried. Risks in life are worth taking! Trust me, I took many risks as I pursued my career. Sometimes it worked, and sometimes it didn’t. But I’m better off for it!

Tell us a little bit about yourself

When were you born?

Feb. 9, 1980

What is your full name?

Manu Krishna Raju

Where did you live when you attended school in District 61?

6734 Charleston Drive, Darien

Where do you live now?

Washington, DC

What are some of your accomplishments and noteworthy activities since leaving District 61?

I have been a reporter in Washington for the past 21 years – first as a print reporter for several publications and now as the chief congressional correspondent for CNN. I have won multiple journalism awards from the Radio and Television Correspondents Association, White House Correspondents Association and Society of Professional Journalists.

I currently cover what happens on Capitol Hill. I regularly interview leaders of Congress and hold them accountable for decisions they make that affect the lives of Americans and people around the world. I have covered a wide array of issues – whether it’s government shutdowns, Supreme Court confirmation hearings and House speaker races, moderated major campaign debates and was inside the Capitol covering the Jan. 6 attack as it happened.

 What are your current involvements?

I love spending time with my seven-year-old twins and coaching them in their sports leagues. I like to play golf, go hiking and travel the world with my family and friends.

What are your plans/goals for the future?

I want to continue to grow in my career and help my kids achieve their goals.

Do you have any pets?

I currently have a cat named Mookie.

I had a dog growing up named Dover who used to have a very unique bark – so every kid at Mark DeLay could hear him and knew his name since we lived so close to the school and he would often howl at the kids.