Helping out is at students’ ‘Corps’

By: Maria Allard | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published August 16, 2013

 East Detroit High School GM Student Corps members William Dyrval, a junior, and Philip Thacker, a senior, help out during the food drive Aug. 10 at East Detroit High School in Eastpointe.

East Detroit High School GM Student Corps members William Dyrval, a junior, and Philip Thacker, a senior, help out during the food drive Aug. 10 at East Detroit High School in Eastpointe.

Photo by Erin Sanchez


EASTPOINTE — This summer, 10 East Detroit High School students have been working on projects to benefit their school and community.

They are members of the school’s GM Student Corps, and beautifying courtyards on the school grounds, the athletic field and a city marquee have been assignments they finished this summer.

On Aug. 10, the students had another project on their hands: a food drive to benefit the food pantry at St. Veronica Church in Eastpointe. The drive was held on the school’s parking lot from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“It’s been pretty good,” incoming EDHS senior Coshonna Allison said. “We wanted to do a community-based project. We were all trying to come up with ideas. This is the one we decided on. We were thinking of local churches we could service. St. Veronica were one of the first people to get back with us.”

The GM Corps group collected rice, pasta, cake mixes, crackers, pancake mix, jelly, canned fruits, beans, mashed potatoes and more. The plan was to deliver the donations the week after receiving them.

“It’s a good feeling,” Allison said. “We just know we’re giving back to the community. It’s really heartfelt.”

The GM Student Corps consists of 10 students whom staff selected to be in the group. GM paid their salaries, which amounted to about three full days per week.

GM also provided funding for the supplies needed to complete the tasks, and the students kept track of their budget. The students worked under GM retirees and team leaders Mike Hall and Pete Schmidt, meeting at EDHS each day.

“Our president, Mark Reuss, this was his brainchild,” Hall said. “He wanted to figure out a way to give back to the city. They adopted 10 schools in the area. The students were allowed to pick the projects they wanted to work on in the community.”

Hall said the students were GM employees for the summer, and each student had a University of Detroit Mercy intern working with them. At EDHS, that was communications undergraduate Annie Mendoza.

While the students were salaried for their work, the food drive, however, was done on a volunteer basis.

Along with the community projects, Hall and Schmidt mentored the students with life skills, résumé-writing sessions, conflict resolution and more. The students also toured Focus: Hope and a Hamtramck assembly plant. 

“It gives them a heads-up, as far as future employment opportunities,” Hall said. “One of the key things they learned is working as a team. They’ve really come in and taken hold of the program. Each week, we go through lessons learned.”

“Working with GM and the intern has been great,” senior Emily Sherman said. “It’s been amazing getting their advice and being with classmates. It’s taught us a lot, like responsibility and we have to be here on time. Everything they are teaching and telling us, we can take into the real world.”

Junior Victoria Grimes is glad the group made a difference.

“It’s going out and changing your community,” she said. “It’s fun. You don’t even know how much work you’ve done until you see the before-and-after.”

Shavon Edwards, Andrea Foster, Emily Martin, David Carriveau, William Dyrval, Brian Finn and Philip Thacker are the other GM Student Corps members. The program runs June 17 through Aug. 22.

Another event took place Aug. 10 on the EDHS parking lot — a car wash to benefit the East Detroit Cheerleading Team. Coach Ashley Springer said it was to raise money for camp, shoes and clothing. Donations of any amount were accepted.

Two more charity car washes are scheduled for the team: 2-6 p.m. Aug. 23 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Aug 24 at the high school parking lot, 15501 Couzens.