During an address to 29 Middle College graduates recently, Melvin Johnson, a community outreach specialist at PHCC, urged them to make good choices.
“I chose the long road to get to where I am today,” he said. “I’m one of those people who really care about what type of life you choose for yourself. Because one day, you’re going to look back and ask if you made the right choices, or you’re going to frown at yourself for the choices you made.”
Martinsville City Councilman Mark Stroud told graduates about his experience gaining his GED in 1980 through Henry County’s continuing education program. After working for Stone Ambulance, Stroud said he went to work in one of the local furniture factories.
He said, “For the first time in my life, I wasn’t working for people or helping care for people. I was running a machine. And somewhere in my fourth year of running a machine, I suddenly discovered I had to increase my education, or I would be running a machine for the rest of my life.”
Stroud described to graduates how he graduated from PHCC and went on to work for the Martinsville Sheriff’s Office and eventually became a master deputy.
“I’m proud of what I have succeeded in,” he said to graduates, “and you all should be very proud of what you have accomplished. This will open doors for you that you might not realize (now).”
Graduates Kelsie Crossman and Alex Murray served as speakers to represent the graduating class. Chris Coulson, the mother of three graduates, spoke from a parent’s perspective to the group. The program also included Frank Tatum, assistant professor of Information Systems Technology, as master of ceremonies.
Christy Spencer, Middle College instructor, said she was proud of all the students who completed the program this year.
“I was honored by each day that I spent with you in the classroom and witnessed the many successes you had throughout your time with us,” she said. “I’ve been continuously inspired by your determination, hard work, and your commitment to complete what you had started.”
Spencer shared that in addition to students earning their GED (general education equivalent) certificates, all students also earned a National Career Readiness Certificate (NCRC), which is a first for the program in its fifth year. Four graduates earned a gold-level NCRC, which indicates they are prepared for 90 percent of jobs listed in its nationwide database.
Middle College Director Christy Yaple encouraged graduates to be champions for their children, for continued education and champions for their community during her remarks to the group.
“Throughout the last year, we have seen you (graduates) develop not only academic skills, but develop the confidence needed to continue to college and choose a career path to be an asset to our workforce” she said. “Most significantly, we’ve watched you overcome numerous challenges without giving up…”
Yaple added that she hopes graduates will continue to grow and find passion in life through a career they love.
Dr. Greg Hodges, dean of academic success and student transfer, provided the invocation, welcome and benediction for the ceremony.
Students graduating from Middle College this year include Xavier Blackwell, Martinsville; Marquis Butler, Martinsville; Amanda Clowers, Axton; Parker Coulson, Fieldale; Riley Coulson, Fieldale; Sidney Coulson, Fieldale; Drew Dunn, Axton; Brice Ferguson, Critz; Callah Gauldin, Henry; Raisa Hagwood, Martinsville; Rebecca King, Spencer; Michael McAdams, Bassett; Shawna Murray, Martinsville; Alex Murray, Ridgeway; Charnita Pollard, Martinsville; Tyrell Settle, Axton; Michelle Snow, Martinsville; Travis Stanford, Collinsville; Natasha Talbot, Collinsville; Eric Taylor, Greensboro, N.C.; DuQuan Tinsley, Martinsville; Sean Wagoner, Penhook; Kyle Wilhelm, Rocky Mount; Katelyn Woods, Bassett; and Ronald Wooten, Martinsville.
Graduates who earned a gold-level NCRC certificate include Kelsie Crossman, Martinsville; Kalen Gallimore, Bassett; Emily Myers, Martinsville; and Nicholas Wooten, Martinsville.