There was standing room only in the Williams Center Wednesday as the Cassadaga Job Corps Academy recognized the latest class to complete their education and training.
Fifty young men and women were recognized for completing their journey through the rigorous Career Development System.
The graduates have completed training to begin working in the healthcare and construction trades, and some also completed their high school equivalency programs.
Pictured above are some of the local graduates of Job Corps. From left are, Grettle Vaeao of Dunkirk, Susan Alvarado of Dunkirk, Kaitlyn Gleason of Mayville with her son, Jennifer Shellman of Brocton, Maricha Rojas of Dunkirk and Al-Basheer Faraj of Jamestown.
Graduates were welcomed into the hall by a wall of cheers and happy faces as they processed to their seats to Pomp and Circumstance.
Academy Director Ann Anderson took the podium first to welcome and thank 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. She also thanked and congratulated the graduates for hard work, perseverance, and commitment to bettering themselves and the Academy.
Student Government Association President Starrasia Bermudez reminded her classmates that "this moment shall pass." She told them never to despair if things are low, and never celebrate the highs too much because these moments will pass. She concluded her speech by saying, "As you leave here today I want you to remember Job Corps as the stepping stone to a future that you are proud of and a future that will sustain the life style you would like to have."
Acting as keynote speaker for this graduation ceremony was Dennis Rak, president of Double A Vineyards and Double A Willow. Rak recounted his own life and the lessons he has learned, in hopes that the graduates will come away better prepared to handle life's curve balls.
He shared, "I intended to grow apple trees after I graduated high school. I now have hundreds of acres of farmland and not a single apple tree anywhere. Am I a failure? No, I have just taken the opportunities that life has presented and made the most of what I could". Seizing upon opportunities both expected and unexpected was a common theme of his address. He also stressed the importance of always treating people fairly and respectfully, whether you are an employee or the employer.
Several students were recognized for outstanding achievements while enrolled at the Academy. Winning overall honors in Academics, and a scholarship from the Academy Community Relations Council, was Corrina Nunez.
Also receiving a Community Relations Council scholarship for Top Performance in Career Technical Training was Shamonne Edwards, of Silver Creek.
Other students recognized were Bryan Allen, with the Social Development Award; Jessica Sarpong, with the Career Transition Award; Antoine Williams with the Citizenship Award; and Isabel Rosendo with the Community Improvement Award.
The ceremony concluded with graduates crossing the stage to receive their certificates and having their profiles and future goals read by Academy staff. A short reception was held following the graduation giving family and friends time to catch up and take plenty of photos.
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 obtain a high school equivalency 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 please visit cassadaga.jobcorps.gov or call Adam Dolce, business and community liaison, at 716-595-237.