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A Grand New Entrance to Pontiac High Thanks to GM Student Corps

Pledge_TOP_blueA Grand New Entrance to NewWay_Jazz_TuesdaysPontiac High Thanks to GM Student Corps

(Crystal A. Proxmire, Aug. 6, 2015)


“These kids are never going to look at their school the same again,” said Lew Elbert, a retired engineer who helped lead a group of ten Pontiac High School students through a summer of hands-on learning and experience in the GM Student Corps Program.


One of the many accomplishments of the teens was unveiled Thursday to an audience that included Pontiac Mayor Deidre Waterman and other elected officials, proud parents, mentors from GM Judy_Palmer30yearsand University of Detroit Mercy, and executives from GM.


The students and mentors painted the entrance way to Pontiac High School.


The face of the building needed to be power washed and given a fresh coat of royal purple paint. A phoenix has been painted on as well. The doors have letters on them: P O N T I A C.


This is Elbert’s second year with the program which brings ten young people together with three retired GM employees and one intern from University of Detroit Mercy for the summer.934_8600_Gen-Online_Banners3


“This gives them a jumpstart on life. This is work that is unique, special and creates memories that will be with them for a long time. This gives them a sense of what is out there, and what they can accomplish,” Elbert said.


The group has cleaned up a ballpark in Pontiac, worked at Gleaners Food Bank, built bikes for kids, volunteered at the Baldwin Center and Grace Centers of Hope, and gotten tours of GM facilities.


“Onseed017_darlene_bignottie thing I had the privilege to see is what it’s really like to see a car in development out in Flint. We toured the Art and Design Dome. They ran through the entire plan so we could see all the steps,” said Denzel Lawson. “Now that I’ve seen it I am considering automotive design. It goes well with gaming design which is what I want to do.”


Lawson and his teammates were just as awestruck with the unveiling as the proud parents and mentors were.  Before they painted, the wall had been left alone for years, so the paint was peeling off.   “It’s a great feeling. I know that I helped out and did an improvement to my school. I look at it and I think, man, I helped do this.”


Nakita Bowman felt good about the project too, and all the experiences she and the students had. “I really liked cleaning up the ballpark. I like thinking about the kids getting to play there. Kids should have nice places to play,” Bowman said.


“I also liked going to the different places to volunteer. We went to Gleaners, the Baldwin Center, Grace Centers of Hope. I didn’t know Pontiac had so many organizations that helped people. I think all cities should have places like that.”

Bowman and Lawson were joined by fellow Pontiac High seniors Austin Deanes, Cameron Owens, Dequandre Massey, Dorothy Williams-Freeman, Jamie Johnson, Javier Cartagena-Rodriguez, Jorge Blas-Rangel and Justin Hardin.

Mike McGuinness, a member of the Pontiac Arts Council, helped create the mural and is responsible for the giant Phoenix. “I did AmeriCorps when I was younger and I know how projects like this can be good for young people, teaching them about working together.”

GM Student Corps in Pontiac is a collaborative effort between GM, Pontiac Schools, Pontiac City Council and University of Detroit Mercy. Across SE Michigan, 55 GM retirees and 14 interns from University of Detroit Mercy and University of Michigan Flint will mentor a total of 130 students from 13 schools in Metro Detroit and Flint.

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