Central High School, the first high school established in Detroit, is the lead implementation partner for Operation Trailblazer. Central High School has a proud past, and hopes for a strong future. Once an iconic institution responsible for educating 1,500 students a year, the school now has fewer than 400 students enrolled and a graduation rate of less than 50 percent. To address these challenges, our Operational objectives are centered around helping transform Central’s current culture by creating conditions conducive to learning and establishing a safe environment for students and families of Central High School.

The community surrounding Central High School, referred to as the North End Central community, ranks one of the lowest in educational attainment—defined by below average high school graduation rates and low college level attainment—and highest poverty in Detroit; these factors contributed to its selection as a recipient for a 10-year investment by Skillman Foundation’s “Good Neighborhoods” Initiative from 2006 to 2016 . According to research conducted by Skillman in partnership with Data Driven Detroit, the share of residents without a high school diploma, 21.3 percent, is tied for second lowest among the six Skillman neighborhoods and just under the city average of 23.2 percent.

The students of Central High School face additional challenges compared to the average high schooler. The demographic makeup of the student body is 99.5% minority and 43.3% economically disadvantaged, defined by student participation rate in the free or reduced lunch program. Given these disadvantages, Central students performed slightly better in English proficiency than other students in their district in 2015, at 15% compared to the 7% district average, though much lower than the state average of 40%. Because Central High School was under state-mandated emergency education management at the time these scores were current, no more recent data is available. Starting at the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year, Central was returned to local control, so additional information will be available over the summer.

Additionally, a major historical event that defines not only the neighborhood of Northend Central, but also Detroit as a whole, occurred just a few blocks from Central High School. The event is referred to now as the Detroit Riots or the Rebellion of 1967, which began following a police raid on an unlicensed bar, known locally as a “blind pig.” Bar patrons were celebrating the homecoming of two local, African-American veterans from the Vietnam War when the predominantly white Detroit police force descended on the scene. Over the course of the next five days involvement from the Detroit police and fire departments, the Michigan State Police, the Michigan National Guard, and the US Army sought to de-escalate what became the largest civil disturbance of twentieth century America. The crisis resulted in forty-three deaths, hundreds of injuries, almost seventeen hundred fires, and over seven thousand arrests.

Understanding that the violence that occurred during this incident was a culmination of decades of mounting racial tension provides context for the goals of Operation Trailblazer, especially when we consider that Detroit in many ways is still affected by challenges such as racial and economic disparity and violence today. The chance for veterans to serve alongside the students of Central high school is a chance to provide healing and support for youth who deserve safety, opportunity, and a promising future.

Recent Events

#PRIDEANDHONOR Affirmations | Ferndale Pride

with the Detroit 1st Service Platoon

Support Event

Affirmations - Ferndale, MI

June 1, 2019 11:00 AM - 2:00 PM

Motor City Makeover

with the Detroit 1st Service Platoon

Service Project

Boys & Girls Club - The Lloyd H. Diehl Club - Detroit, MI

May 18, 2019 9:30 AM - 2:00 PM

Earth Day Prep

with the Detroit 1st Service Platoon

Prep Event

VetsVille - Detroit, MI

April 25, 2019 3:00 PM - 6:30 PM