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Cody High School has changed with the times

March 18 2013 | no comments

Cody High School on Detroit’s west side hasn’t always had the best academic reputation.  But the Cody of today is quite different from the Cody of five years ago.  In fact, it isn’t even a single school anymore.

The sprawling building near Southfield and Joy Road is definitely showing its age.  Cody High School was built to serve the growing population of Detroit in the 1950′s.  But over the decades things changed.  Those changes weren’t always good for Cody.

Math teacher Tonya Raye has worked at Cody for 12 years.  She says there was a lot of gang violence, “The attendance rate was awful.  The graduation rate was even worse.”

Five years ago Cody began a total transformation.  The interior was updated, but that was just the start. The one big school was divided into three smaller ones: The Detroit Institute of Technology, Medicine and Community Health Academy and the Academy of Public Leadership.  The goal was to break the school into smaller, more intimate communities.

Jonathan Matthews is principal of Cody Academy of Public Leadership.  He says he has been able to form a curriculum within that format, “But the key was creating relationships with teachers and students and the community.”

Each of the 3 schools has about 400 students and its own section on campus.  This year, the first class will graduate from the new Cody schools.  The Academy of Public Leadership started out four years ago with 72 freshmen.  This spring it will graduate 95 seniors.  Principal Matthews says, “We’ve actually increased the population since freshman year.”  How does he keep them in a district with a high dropout rate?  “You can know the names of 72 kids.  You can have a personal relationship.  You can make sure they can get to and from school.”

Dwayna Alexander is a Junior.  She told us she was a troubled student in middle school who might have failed in another environment, “I probably would have dropped out or given up or been kicked out or something worse.”  But now she plans to graduate and go to college.

So does Donniqua Alexander, “Every student has somebody who cares about them inside of Cody.  Period.  I don’t care what school you’re in, everybody has that teacher you can go call on or they can always lean on.

Math teacher Tonya Raye agrees, “We wanted relationships with these kids that were so strong that when they graduated, that relationship would continue.”

And while many students are leaving Detroit schools for the suburbs, Chelsea Thompson came to Cody from a Canton school where, she says, people didn’t know her name, “When I came here it was like they cared about you.  They care  about your grades, they care about what’s going on with your life nd they try to work with you.”

One of the most enthusiastic students we met was Brandon Rutland who told us, “This is like one of those one in a million schools that’s changed.  It’s a rarity and it’s all right here in Cody Rouge Community and this is us and we have it.  It’s so great!”



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