Special to the OBSERVER
CASSADAGA - Family, friends, staff and students recently packed the gym at the Cassadaga Job Corps Academy as the Academy celebrated its summer commencement. They celebrated the 53 young men and women who crossed the stage to receive recognition for their accomplishments at the Academy. The graduates have completed training to begin working in the healthcare and construction trades and many have completed their education while enrolled at the Academy as well.
Spirits and the excitement level were high among family and friends as they cheered for the graduates as they marched into the gymnasium, during the video montage as well and when each individual crossed the stage. Academy Director Ann Anderson took the podium first and thanked all of those in attendance for the support and assistance they have given to the graduating class throughout their enrollment. She thanked the staff and faculty for their dedication and guidance to help get these young people to this place and the graduates themselves.
Pictured above are residents of Chautauqua County and Buffalo who were among recent graduates at the Cassadaga Job Corps Academy. They are: Back: Shamiela Smith, Clarence Morrsion and Patrick Dee. Front row: Danielle Maclin, Elizabeth Perry, Marissa Delcamp, Kayla O’Dell and Kassandra O’Dell.
"You have all given back to this campus in so many ways, thank you for all that you have done for us as you have prepared to enter your career path," Anderson stated in her remarks.
Milano Andre Fields delivered the student address to his fellow classmates. He reminded them that the "Career Success Standards you have learned here are tools to help you continue to succeed in life. Use them, and don't ever forget them."
Acting as keynote speaker for this graduation ceremony was the Rev. Cheni Khonje from Dunkirk First United Presbyterian Church. Khonje related to the class her experience of starting college in rural Nebraska after living in many large urban cities around the world - a reality many Job Corps students face as they travel from different cities from throughout New York state and arrive in rural Cassadaga.
She also encouraged them to continue on their path of education and growth. "Commencement is defined in the dictionary as a beginning; don't let today be the last you open a book, keep reading. Don't let this be the last day in which you earn a diploma; keep learning to be successful," she said.
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 Raday Nunn, Carpentry; Marissa Delcamp of Fredonia, CVS Pharmacy Technician; Xavier Anderson, Certified Nurses' Aide; David Martin of Casanegra, Paintingp;p and Carlos Cepeda, Electrical.
Students that are recognized for top performance in trade are provided with a cash scholarship awarded by the Cassadaga Job Corps Community Relations Council. Jennifer Hazelton, academics manager, presented Samantha Concepcion with overall top student for achievement in Academics while Sharaya Hunt was awarded with the best overall student from the Social Development Department by Social Development Director Vicki Heyl. Workforce Development Director Vincent Trippi recognized Patrick Dee of Lackawanna for demonstrating outstanding employability skills at his current internship site. The manufacturer in Buffalo is expected to hire him full time upon completion. The Good Citizen Award presented by Academy Standards and Incentives Officer Richard Chase was awarded to Malcolm Dostaly.
The Academy, with the help of this graduating class, finished the Job Corps program year ending in June ranked seventh in the nation among the 125 Job Corps Centers across the country. The ranking of Job Corps Centers is based on data collected by a third party as well as information reported and verified by the Job Corps Centers. It takes into account several key performance indicators including diploma and trade attainment, gains in literacy and numeracy, as well as placement in employment, education or the military, wage at time of hire, and retention of placement at 6 and 12 months, among other markers.
The Cassadaga Job Corps Academy provides career technical training to over 400 students per year, helping to prepare young people to be successful in the workplace. Students who are also in need of a diploma are given the opportunity to earn a GED or high school diploma while enrolled. All students attend on a federal scholarship after being deemed eligible according to Job Corps guidelines. While most students reside on campus local students may be considered for non-residential status. For more information about the Cassadaga Job Corps Academy visit cassadaga.jobcorps.gov or call Adam Dolce, business and community liaison, at 716-595-4237.