School of the Week: East English Village Preparatory Academy

Welcome to the “The Ville!”

What does a future CEO, Ivy League graduate and youth mentor have in common? They all currently attend East English Village Preparatory Academy High School, and Principal Patricia Murray wants all to know that at The Ville, they are creating history!

Opening its doors in 2012, the $46.3 million facility, better known as “The Ville” amongst its students, was originally the merger of three former high school populations to create what is now a nearly 1,600 student building proudly representing the city’s eastside.

The school, which has a strong focus on STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics), has four academic wings including eight science laboratories, a high-tech media center, a performing arts wing, and an athletic complex with a community health clinic sponsored by St. John Health System.

“We want every student to feel that they belong, not just attend,” Murray said. “Our students deserve a facility that is state-of-the-art, beautiful and something to be proud of.”

The students at The Ville aren’t only proud of their eye-catching headquarters, but many of them think of their school as a place of employment. Each day students come in prepared to do school work and pitch or launch their dream projects.

With the help of The Future Project, students have been able to bring to reality their dreams and what they want to pursue in their futures. The Future Project is a non-profit organization that places Dream Directors (mentors) into schools to inspire students and help turn ideas into reality.

“We do a little bit of everything here,” said EEVPA’s Dream Director Kayla Mason. “Future Project is about believing in young people’s dreams and helping them launch their projects.”

President of the Dream Team, Gearramia Coffey, may be on his way out of EEVPA as a soon-to-be-graduate, but he is on his way to becoming the next CEO with his project “FlyDay Friday” — even gaining the attention of Businessman Dan Gilbert.

“On FlyDay Friday, all students come to school in business attire,” said Coffey. “I also reach out to professionals in various fields to come to our school weekly and host a one-hour discussion to engage the students.”

Coffey also coordinates with local organizations to donate suits to EEVPA. And he organizes the new items to distribute to teachers who then pass them out based on behavior and performance.

FlyDay Friday is so well organized that Gilbert invited Coffey to present his business model in front of his 350 business CEOs and partners at a professional retreat. Needless to say, Coffey will have at least scored an internship with a fortune 500 company by the time he walks across the stage to accept his diploma.

Coffey is not alone in his ambitiousness…

CEO and second-in-command of the Dream Team, Darnell Obamwonyi, has successfully made a partnership with Toastmasters International, a world leader in communication and leadership focused on improving speaking and leadership skills, through his Future Project “Nursing Conversing.” Toastmasters representatives visit EEVPA every other Friday to educate students within the areas of public speaking and leadership skills.

“I believe in bridging the gaps,” said Obamwonyi. “I love going to this school because we have the opportunity to create all of these different types of projects. And at the same time we are all treated equal.”

“We envision a student who is a graduate that can go into the world and make a difference,” Murray expressed.

Let’s not forget EEVPA has some of the top ranked athletes in the city! The Bulldogs hold a back-to-back championship title in baseball. In 2014, in only its second year of operation, EEVPA made school history by winning its first Detroit Public Schools League boys’ golf championship. The school’s football stadium has a multi-seasonal, synthetic field for track, football, soccer and more.

Senior basketball star and “Gates Millennium Scholarship” contender Fred Wright-Jones has maintained a 4.0 grade point average since middle school. Thanks to his academic ambition and potential scholarship dollars, all of his college expenses could be covered through graduate school!

“Once my mom saw that I can receive a 4.0, that is what she expected,” said Jones.

EEVPA has academics and it has athletics, but it also has another special aspect to its curriculum that has helped to create this dynamic population.

The EEVPA Dignity Program, guided by Ray Winans, Community Organizer and Youth Mentor for the Keeping Them Alive Organization, was developed for young men and women who are facing hardship at home or at school. Winans develops relationships with many students due to behavioral situations and helps them grow into the best individuals they can possibly be.

“It is my goal to instill the importance of leadership and accountability into these students,” explained Winans. “I’ve been to many locations, and this is the school that is home; we are a family here.”

Senior David King, who has been deemed Winans’ successor, explained that his time within the Dignity Program was lifesaving.

“The program is wonderful for students, especially if they have no one to look up to,” said King. “To me, it was lifesaving. Before I met them, my life was different, and they saved me. It’s a special program to be a part of.”

With EEVPA being one of DPS’ 21 Community Schools, a neighborhood hub housing community-based programs and partnerships, students are able to participate in the Lear Corporation Tutoring Program. For three years, the Lear Corp. tutoring program allows junior and senior EEVPA students to tutor and mentor sixth-eighth grade students at J.E. Clark Preparatory Academy.

Something you didn’t know…

East English Village Preparatory Academy High School has the largest Future Project in the nation.

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