By Tom Jordan

There are many facets to the city’s turn-around. It’s not just exiting bankruptcy, or creating new jobs. There are neighborhoods and the anchors that hold them together … like schools.

One neighborhood on the west side has gotten a head start, and a helping hand from hundreds of students across Metro Detroit.

The Cody Rouge neighborhood is getting more than just a makeover. They are in the process of a major partnership, not with corporations or elected officials, but with students who see something special at this west side community high school.

“This is an unbelievable underdog story in the making.” said Chris Lambert.

Lambert brought his “Life Remodeled,” organization to Cody Rouge High School, where over the past four years, graduation rates have skyrocketed from just 40 percent four years ago, to more than 90 percent today, after the community decided to turn around this school – smaller class sizes, and an academic focus on science, technology, leadership and medicine.

“And that’s why we’re here, because we look for stories of need and hope. And even though the graduation rates on the rise, there are major issues with this school that need to be dealt with needs for these kids to really get the educational environment they need.” said Lambert.

Decades of neglect have taken a toll on the grounds of Cody High so they’re fixing them up, with hundreds of thousands of donated dollars to add a new roof, new football field, renovate class rooms and add new ones.

“We’re going to create a medical simulation lab. We’re going to create a leadership lab. And we’re going to create a stem lab.” added Lambert.

Cody High School principal Michelle Parker says the work is indicative of a deeply committed community towards this younger generation in this small section of Detroit – a city where the poverty rate is 44 percent and of those poor families, 66 percent don’t have a husband or father in the home.

“It also lets students know that no matter what the problem are going on outside these walls — you always have the support here.”

That’s why after the physical heavy lifting is over later this week, the deeper work continues from pastors like Kurt Alber, of Oak Pointe Church in Novi.

“We’re hoping to show people what healthy relationships look like. And even here at the school they’re teaching kids how to have healthy relationships.” said Kurt Alber, Assistant Pastor, Oak Pointe Church.

Get info on the premiere Sunday, October 26, 2014 at the Redford Theater and learn more about Cody High: A Life Remodeled Project.

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