The mission of the USDA Forest Service Lyndon B. Johnson Job Corps Civilian Conservation Center is to “train eligible youth in the educational, social and career technical training skills ... and contributing value to our communities.”
The center saw results from its agenda as 12 students graduated from its vocational program this past Tuesday.
The first-ever national LBJ Civilian Conservation Corps commencement ceremony was held at the center along with an open house that featured guided tours, a cookout with hot dogs and hamburgers, door prizes and basic health checks.
The graduation ceremony began with the presentation of colors and the national anthem sung by Kalen Foster.
Boyce Deitz, a representative from Cong. Heath Shuler’s office, spoke to the assembly. “Keep yourself honest, work hard and don’t take yourself seriously.”
Student Government Association president Shantel Knowles, introduced the keynote speaker Assistant Secretary of Commerce Henry C, McKoy Jr.
McKoy began his remarks by touting the concept and the success of the job corps program. He said he had three things to leave with the graduates: A word of advice, a lesson and a charge.
The advice: Work hard, but learn to smell the roses.
“No matter how busy life gets, you should always slow down sometimes, and smell the roses. Slow down for your community. Slow down for your family. Slow down for yourself,” he said.
The lesson: Love is ageless. Dreaming never stops. Believing is forever. The lesson portion of the address featured three Italian words: Amo. Sogno. Credo. What do those words mean? To love, to dream, to believe.
McKoy related a story about his grandmother who lives in a rest home. She has a 106-year-old gentleman caller, Mr. Earnest, who is insistent on marrying his 92-year-old grandmother. He has courted her, sang to her and loved her, believing that she will marry him. If she does, he will consider that a success.
“When you turn 106 years old, what will you consider at the end of your life as success?” he asked the students.
McKoy concluded with the charge. He charged all of the student to leave and become lifelong artists.
“I know that some of you are brick masons, business technologists, carpenters, cement masons, culinary artists, facility maintenance managers, painters and welders. Yet still, you can all choose to be artists when you leave here ... Whether its carpentry, welding, cement or brick masonry, culinary art, business technology, painting or facilities maintenance, your art can change the world. Your art can make the world better.
“Walk out of here different than you came in. We need you to do meaningful work; we need you to make your work meaningful. The book is not written. The canvas is still blank. The song is still untitled. Because our story isn’t over yet. Franklin. North Carolina. America. The World. You have the brush, the tune, the pen, the hands, the minds, the hearts.”
Following McKoy’s address, presentations were made to each graduate.
The students were:
Maurice Alonians Jones II
The ceremony concluded with a reception for students, parents and guests.