On Thursday, May 11, 12 for Life® held its annual commencement ceremony, celebrating a decade since its inception in 2007.
12 for Life, a collaborative partnership that began between Southwire and Carroll County Schools in 2007, provides classroom instruction, on-the-job training, key work/life skills, mentoring and employment opportunities. Through 12 for Life, students are motivated to stay in school, graduate and move ahead to become successful, productive members of the communities in which they live.
216 students from Carroll, Haralson and Heard County Schools completed the requirements to receive their high school diplomas through the support of the Carrollton area program. 12 for Life will recognize 386 graduates for 2017, including 51 students from the program’s Florence, Ala. location, 94 through the Great Promise Partnership and 25 from the first graduating class of Textron Specialized Vehicles, Inc.’s Reaching Potential Through Manufacturing (RPM) program in Richmond County, Ga. These graduates mark a total of 2,000 students who have completed 12 for Life to date.
“I am incredibly proud of our 2017 graduates and of all of the students that have graduated from 12 for Life over the last decade,” said Rich Stinson, Southwire’s president and CEO. “We deeply value the partnerships that make 12 for Life sustainable, and we are excited to see how the model is succeeding with other businesses and school systems around the nation.”
The 2017 ceremony was hosted by West Georgia Technical College. Attendees included students, teachers, parents, school system representatives, Southwire employees, community leaders and friends.
“12 for Life is a powerful driver of success for the students of Carroll County,” said Scott Cowart, superintendent of Carroll County Schools. “Celebrating this year’s graduation and the 10th anniversary of 12 for Life reminds us of the tremendous impact the program has had on our community.”
The graduation event was led by Dr. Doug Wright, 12 for Life/Step Into STEM project director for Carroll County Schools. Guest speakers included Cowart and Kathleen Edge, Southwire’s executive vice president of Human Resources. The keynote address for the ceremony was presented by Fredrick Bailey, a mentor, author and motivational speaker. Bailey’s mission centers on equipping individuals to be agents of change.
Through his words, Bailey inspired the graduates to focus on the impact of their attitudes and to think about the unique qualities that define leadership. Each graduate was also presented with a signed copy of his autobiography, Waiting on the Rain.
“You perform the way that you think,” said Bailey. “No matter how big the challenge may be, no matter how strong or powerful it may seem, you can bring it down. It’s all about your attitude.”
In addition to the recognition of each graduate, several awards and scholarships were granted during the ceremony. The Academic Achievement Award, given to the student with the highest GPA in the program, was presented to Jordan King, Central High School, and Kalijah Boykin, also from Central High School, received the 12 for Life Standard of Excellence Award. 23 students were recognized by Blair Parker, operations manager of Carrollton’s 12 for Life facility, for their eligibility for a Southwire Scholarship. The Harold H. Charles Memorial Scholarship was presented to Shawn Brown, Mt. Zion High School, and Bob Uglum presented the first Carrollton Golden K 12 for Life Scholarship to Bailee Galathe of Temple High School.
Throughout their time at 12 for Life, many of the graduates also completed college courses and received certifications relative to their chosen career pathways.
The ceremony closed with inspirational remarks by graduates Erika Dixon and Tiler Harpe.
“Do not let a single opportunity pass you by,” said Harpe to his peers. “It’s all about seeing it and taking it while it still exists. There is nothing more expensive than a missed opportunity.”
12 for Life will honor the graduates at its Florence location in an upcoming ceremony later this month.