As a high school student, what kind of project could you do over the summer to bring value to your fellow students during the school year? This year at Cody High School, students in the IMPACT program are building a wellness room, where students can take some time for quiet, games and doing their hair. 

IMPACT is funded through the DTE Foundation and is led day-to-day by DTE alumni and college mentors. 30 students are taking part in the program this year, working virtually on Mondays and Tuesdays, and in the school on Wednesdays and Thursdays.  

Not only are students earning a much-needed paycheck, but they’re learning skills they can take with them in school and beyond. They work with a program called EDSI, or virtual job shadow, where they learn about different career opportunities available to them. Through Junior Achievement, they take part in JA Finance Park so they can learn how to make their paychecks go further. And with the Wellness Room, they’re learning teamwork and project management skills.  

Students were divided into four teams: design, cleaning, budget and supply. Students had to build teamwork since many didn’t really know each other and they had to take on different tasks and work together to get things done.  

Photo by Jeff Kowalsky for DTE

Amira Rue, senior, says the room hasn’t been used in years and this is a great way for students to use the space. “The wellness room is very needed. It will be a place where people can have some quiet time, work out conflict and do their hair.” 

The room was filled with junk before, and students worked hard to clean it out. Two small rooms at the end are for quiet or conversations, while the main room has healthy snacks, board games, a sound machine and furniture for relaxing. 

Chris Eskin, DTE EYL Fitness Zone Assistant Manager, has been visiting the students at Cody every Wednesday to lead wellness activities. “It’s important to teach wellness activities to students because in teaching them how to take care of themselves through mindset and movement, we are helping shape how the next generation handles wellbeing.  Just like with anything, the younger you start, the more ingrained these morals become, ultimately becoming habits that are passed down from generation to generation.   

Eskin also appreciates the space students have created. “The IMPACT students have done a great job putting together a wellness space for themselves and fellow students at Cody High School. I feel like they have really captured what wellness is: mindset, movement and nutrition.” 

Donald McGill, senior, says he’s learned a lot from JA Finance Park. “You can’t spend your money in one place,” he says. “You don’t know what’s going to happen next, and you have to save your money.”  

Donald and Amira have learned a lot from their mentor, Roosevelt Banks, who worked for DTE for 36 years. “I love working with kids,” says Roosevelt. “I like seeing students get that “A-ha moment,” where it all starts to make sense. Young people need direction and leadership and to understand what they can with their lives.” 

And his mentorship is making an impact. Donald says, “This program is great for students. It helps with learning how to be a leader and to work through your issues.” 

Dawn Shreve, program manager for IMPACT, said students were already seeing the impact of their summer project. “Some students were at Cody for orientation this week and when they saw the wellness room, they were excited to use it.”

Photo by Jeff Kowalsky for DTE