8/31/2011- Cassadaga Job Corps Academy recognized and celebrated the graduation of more than 60 young men and women who are now preparing to launch their careers and the rest of their life. This commencement also marked the first time that the Job Corps program has celebrated the success of their students on one day across the entire country. Many of the nation’s 124 Job Corps Centers conducted graduation ceremonies as part of National Job Corps Commencement Day. Serving as commencement speaker at this graduation was Congressman Brian Higgins, a member of the Congressional Friends of Job Corps Caucus. He commended the Cassadaga Job Corps leadership and staff for providing the guidance, skill and friendship that makes each of the student success stories possible.
In his remarks Higgins addressed the “great promise of America.” He discussed the life lessons he learned growing up as the son of a bricklayer, “This is a nation in which a good work ethic provided a basis from which the next generation could do better. Life’s road has adversity. It’s not where we come from but what we do with where we come from. People believe in you, now use this challenge to provide opportunity. And finally give thanks for living in a good and generous nation that makes your dreams and all of our dreams possible.”
Included in the commencement exercise were several awards and scholarships recognizing top performing students from all areas of the Academy. Those recognized for top performance in Career Technical Training were Brandon Ordway for carpentry, Jeff Abell for plumbing, Rayquan Noble for painting, Justin Palmer for electrical, Ryan Gorman for certified nurse aide, Kristen Paddyfoote for Pharmacy Technician, and Troy Devendorf for culinary arts. Students that are recognized for top performance in trade are provided with a cash scholarship awarded by the Cassadaga Job Corps Community Relations Council. Smurt Skerrit was recognized as the overall top student for achievement in academics while Rosalyna Rosario was awarded with the best overall student from the Social Development Department. The American Red Cross awarded a college scholarship to Tasha White. The Red Cross scholarship is based on performance throughout the year at Red Cross blood drives. A school must meet a minimum threshold of donations and participation to qualify. The Academy has received this award for the last three years.
Zehnder-Rittling was recognized as the Academy’s employer of the year. This manufacturer from Buffalo has hired numerous students over the course of the past several months. Many of those students who have been hired have received additional training and in some cases have already promoted into new positions. Receiving the award for Zehnder Rittling was Christine Barto, human resources director; she stated “the motivation, work ethic and drive of the students who we have hired has been terrific. We will happily interview members of this graduating class if they are seeking employment”.
Forty students walked across the stage as diplomas were handed out to the graduates that were on hand to be recognized. Each student had a profile read aloud and handed flowers to family, friends and staff who supported them during their training and education. Students from across the 27th Congressional District of New York included Jeffery Abell of Eden, Tony Arndt of Jamestown, Shantika Butts of Buffalo, Nathan Carpenter of Brocton, Ryan Gorman of Buffalo, Ericka Griewisch of Dunkirk, Cecelia Wie of Buffalo, Richard Jones of Delevan, Jessica Mujica of Dunkirk, Justin Palmer of Dunkirk, Chris Pierce of Lackawanna, Jorge Romo of Jamestown, and Amber White of Dunkirk. This class was made up of several other Western New York students in addition to other students from throughout the state.
Academy Director Ann Anderson concluded the ceremony by officially graduating the Class of 2011 and thanking all of the groups of people that have stood by the class and provided assistance and support in many different ways. She instructed the class to slide their tassels and happily requested they throw their cap into the air, to celebrate this milestone.