Flint Southwestern students give new life to the school's courtyard

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FLINT (WJRT) (08/21/18) -- Students at Southwestern Classical Academy in Flint spent their summer hard at work, trying to make their school a better learning environment.

Ten student interns, as part of the General Motors Student Corps Program transformed the courtyard at Southwestern into an outdoor classroom.

The courtyard used to be an eyesore with overgrown greenery and was unusable.

"I thought I couldn't do it but obviously we did," said senior Alexis Speaight.

And they did it well.

"We built a 25-by-75 foot deck. It includes seating for 24 people for an outdoor classroom, with a podium for the teacher, picnic tables for the students to come out and eat lunch," said GM Student Corps Team Leader Jerry Leman.

The program pairs retired GM executives with student interns to help tackle various community service projects -- and Flint Southwestern was no exception.

"I feel like we're making a difference for our school and we're making it more friendly for others," Speaight said.

The project was certainly an undertaking that came with its fair share of challenges.

"One time I had paint on the wall and I had to learn how to get it off, but like I need to learn how to paint and do things correctly."

In addition to learning how to build a deck, students were taught communication, problem solving, presentation and other life learning skills.

"This courtyard hasn't been touched in 35 years and they're going to see the biggest impact in our school and hopefully they'll enjoy what we have created," said Senior Kasmin Harris.

Each student also saved $200 for their post secondary education this summer.

The United Way of Genesee County matched those funds totaling $2,000, which will be donated to local charities.

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