The Associated Press
DETROIT — A lively group of students and community members cheered and applauded as TV show hosts revealed a newly remodeled Detroit school given a second chance at life.
The smell of fresh paint, including new purple and yellow outside panels, wafted off Communication and Media Arts High School as the cast from NBC’s reality show School Pride led chants of “CMA!”
With cameras surrounding them, the students and others poured through the front doors of the once aging building to get a glimpse of the repainted walls and new classrooms.
“Everything is different,” said 10th-grader Kevaughn Price. “It feels good to be a student that goes here.”
“I wasn’t expecting this,” another student, Kavon Lewis, said.
NBC producers said they selected the school because its poor physical condition and passionate students and parents fit the show’s profile. Leaking roofs, non-working water fountains and poor science lab equipment
plagued the school building for years.
Price said the improved surroundings will make it easier to concentrate in class.
Taping for the show started on a Friday morning and ran through the afternoon as hosts gave students a tour of the building. Many students said they were surprised with the school’s new look both inside and out.
NBC asked those on the tour to keep details about the school’s interior a secret until the show airs in the fall.
Anthony Adams, president of the Detroit School Board, said the School Pride show is helping CMA preserve its spirit of unity.
“It’s a symbol of what can happen when people work together, set aside their differences and think about what’s in the best interest of our students,” Adams said.
At least 1,700 volunteers helped renovate the school, said district spokesman Steve Wasko. Local businesses donated $1 million in materials and supplies to the makeover.
Tom Kelleher, who flew from Wakefield, Mass., to volunteer, said he enjoyed lending his construction skills to deserving students.
“I’ve been emotionally touched by the whole aspect of what we’ve done here,” Kelleher said. “I feel happy and proud to have been a part of it.”
The district’s emergency financial manager, Robert Bobb, nominated CMA for the show after learning producers were looking for schools. He removed it from the district’s list of school closures once it became a finalist. The school had a 100 percent graduation rate in 2010.
Following the renovation, Bobb announced that CMA would be “off the closing list forever.”