DETROIT (WXYZ) - Eric Carter is hard at work on the job at Detroit’s Mason Dixon Intermodal loading shipping receipts into a scanner. For the 16 year old high school junior this isn’t an after school job. It is school.
Eric goes to Detroit Cristo Rey a private Catholic prep school tucked into a corner of Holy Redeemer School in Mexican Town. What makes the school unique is that every student works at a job outside the school at least one day a week.
“All of our students work jobs,” Cristo Rey President Michael Khoury points out. “We find them jobs at local organizations, hospitals, law firms, credit unions; a whole variety of corporations that want to make a difference.”
Eric splits his job with three classmates who combine to give Mason Dixon a full-time employee. The $26,000 annual paycheck doesn’t go to the students; it goes directly to the school to cover the cost of the students’ education.
For Eric Carter, Cristo Rey will probably mean acceptance to college after high school. It was only a remote possibility two years ago when he was an unmotivated freshman at Detroit’s Martin Luther King High School.
“I played a lot,” Eric says of his first year of high school. “I wasn’t disciplined, just wasn’t focused on what I was supposed to be doing. When I got to Detroit Cristo Rey I focused in, got my grades up and just…focused.”
That focus is what has earned the Cristo Rey Schools across the country an impressive statistic. “Last year there were twelve Cristo Rey schools that had a graduating class,” Khoury explains. “Of those twelve schools 708 students graduated and 708 students were accepted to college. We expect to do the exact same in Detroit in June of 2012.”
That will be Detroit Cristo Rey’s first graduating class. And no one will be rooting for the students more than the employees at Mason Dixon Intermodal. “I think it’s done a lot for our staff,” Mason Dixon president Tim Phillips says. “ I think our staff has appreciated the kids being here. It acts kind of like a mothering type effect; they want to see the kids succeed, they want to see them grow and I’m sure there will be no prouder people than the staff that they work around when they graduate.”
Eric Carter has no doubt he’ll be getting his diploma in 2012. And it’s with growing confidence that he sees his future 4 years after that. “In college graduating probably.” He says, then smiles broadly, “I say probably…no, definitely. Graduating.”
Detroit Cristo Rey depends on the support of corporate sponsors who enable kids like Eric Carter to hope for a promising future. Click here for information on how to play a part in the program.
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