GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — In the midst of a southwest Grand Rapids neighborhood lies a beacon of hope.
Covenant House Academy is giving about 300 students ages 16 to 22 another opportunity to earn their high school diploma and, most importantly, a chance to rewrite their own story.
“We don’t judge,” Principal Markeith Large said. “We have a heavy population of students who might have suffered trauma from gang violence, or they might’ve gotten kicked out of school, (or) who might’ve came out of juvenile detention.”
He said it’s a melting pot offering students a shot at redemption.
“Somebody accused me of threatening to shoot up a school,” said Tyler Doss, a sophomore at Covenant House Academy.
Since leaving Grand River Preparatory High School in 2018, the 16-year-old has connected with new teachers who have helped him find his purpose in the classroom and build his confidence on the ballroom dance floor.
“I am very thankful for them to be here to help me. From how I was (then) to now, I’m a nice, calm kid and I prefer this me than the other me,” said Doss, who dreams of sharing his yearslong passion for ballroom dancing by teaching it to students at his school.
Doss’ 16-year-old classmate, Iliana Lisboa, told News 8 she transferred to the academy from an online school. Before she was learning from her desk, she was learning from her car.
“I would stay in my mom’s car for a couple months, and then I was bouncing house to house,” said Lisboa.
Lisboa couldn’t enroll in a traditional high school because she was homeless and always on the move. Now that she has a house, she’s able to focus on her dreams of becoming an attorney.
“Here it’s beautiful,” said Lisboa. “I love it here; they’re like a big family.”
“We truly believe that everybody deserves that second chance,” Principal Large said.
The Convent House Academy has been around for six years. In that time, it has graduated 410 students. Educators expect to graduate 40 more in December.