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OTC Adult Education Graduates Encouraged to Continue Education

When graduates, their families and friends gathered at the Waycross Middle School auditorium to celebrate accomplishments and goals met, graduation speakers and presenters gave congratulatory remarks and then drove home another message: pursue higher education. Over 60 graduates from six counties, many of whom have already enrolled in or made application to postsecondary institutions,  
 participated in the Okefenokee Technical College Adult Education GED graduation ceremony held at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 21, 2011.

The service began with a welcome by Peter Mills, the executive director of OTC’s Adult Education Program, followed by the invocation given by Waycross graduate, Victoria Yolanda Sallet. The Ware County High School Color Guard commanded the ceremony with the presentation of colors. Mr. Mills then led the congregation in the Pledge of Allegiance. The National Anthem was performed by Ms. Shirley Burse-Swackard, cousin to Ms. Gloria Reid, Pierce County Instructor.  Her rendition was followed by greetings from Mr. Andy Brannen, VP for Economic Development. Ms. Dana Westbury, Brantley County Honor Graduate, inspired her fellow graduates and seated guests when she sang the inspirational “I Hope You Dance.”

Mr. Doug Furman, Technical Instructor of Welding and Joining Technology at Okefenokee Technical College and 2010 Rick Perkins Award Winner (Technical College System of Georgia Teacher of the Year), was the featured speaker. Furman shared his educational struggles and victories with graduates. He is a technical college graduate as well as an instructor, and he has successfully continued his education during his current employment and now holds one of the few honors a welder can possess. He is an American Welding Society Certified Welding Inspector and Educator. He encouraged the graduating class to continue their education and training and make learning a lifelong pursuit.

Mr. Mills introduced Doug Furman as a master welder, instructor and a strong motivating encourager to his colleagues. Mr. Furman was born in Rochester, New York, raised and educated through high school in Miami, Florida, graduated OTC and teaches welding there now. He holds several professional memberships including the Florida Blacksmith Association. He is married and has a son in the Air Force and two school-age daughters.

Joshua R. Cade, the class salutatorian, was not present, but his instructor, Ms. Gloria Reid, spoke highly of him and requested a moment of silence in memory of this young man’s recently deceased mother. Ryan Beasley, class valedictorian from Clinch County had the highest average among GED graduates from the six counties OTC serves, spoke to the assembled graduates about overcoming unexpected obstacles and reaching goals. Beasley congratulated his peers in his address to the audience and encouraged his classmates to set goals and continue to always work toward them. 

Mills and Brannen presented general educational development certificates to the following graduates:

Bacon County
Dixie Adams, Sharon Michelle Cook, Troy Stephen Ivey, April Michelle Lawson, Victoria Megan St. John

Brantley County
Porcia Alexander, Barbie Ann Caudill, Kimberly Nicole Clark, Sheron Jade Coleman, Tera Daniels, Kimberly Ann Harris, Christina Holzman, Rebecca Ann Johns, *Angela Jones, William Ray Kirkland, *Linda Ann Lewis, Thomas Jordan Mullins, Stacey O’Neal, *Dana Sheree Westbury, Breena Nicole Willis, John Anthony Willis III

Charlton County
Brittany Lambert, Bethany Faye Bartram, James Derrell Nelson

Clinch County
***Ryan Beasley, Corey Wren Coombs, Heather Leann Fitzgerald, Rebecca Hope Mizell, Justin Salinas, Taylor R. Shaw

Pierce County
**Joshua R. Cade, Laura Rowland Crase, Justin Anthony Michtak, Kristi Rigdon, Erica Dawn Waters

Ware County
Jessica Aldridge, Frederick J. Bivens, Joseph Martin Bonvissuto, James Wendell Brown, April Elizabeth Bryce, April Nicole Day (Ryals), *Philip C. Decker, Jr., Lesley Michelle Duncan, Shaneika Gordon, Harlie Brooke Hall, Harley Renee Henderson, *Rachel LeAnn Kincaid, Rode’ Lopez, Joshua Brent Mahone, Marissa Dawn Marden, Dawn L. Mason, *Katrina Leanne McLeighton, Lakeyda Norris, Victoria Yolanda Sallet, Elizabeth Marie Smith, Kayla Deanna Spence, Stacey D. Stephens, Christopher A. Warren, Kelsey Joann Williams, Samantha Denise Williams, Zabrae Bernard Williams

In the final act of the ceremony, graduates moved their tassels under the direction of Mr. Darrell Casey, Charlton County Instructor.  The recessional followed. Ushers were Brandy Roland, Ware County GED Candidate, Carrie Trammell, daughter of Brantley County teacher, Sheryl Trammell, and Carol Sciscilo, adjunct instructor in Brantley County.  Travis Trammell, son of Mrs. Sheryl Trammell, Brantley County Instructor, was the featured pianist for the ceremony.

Photo 1

Photo 1:
Twenty-seven Ware County residents participated in the April 21, 2011, OTC Adult Education Graduation ceremony at Waycross Middle School. Mrs. Cathy Daniels, Ware County program instructor, congratulated graduates:  
first row (bottom) from left to right: Samantha Denise Williams, Lakeyda Norris, Rode’ Lopez, Kelsey Joann Williams, Harley Renee Henderson, Cathy Daniels (Instructor)
Second Row (from bottom): Dawn L. Mason, Kayla Deanna Spence, Harlie Brooke Hall, Elizabeth Marie Smith, Marissa Dawn Marden, Lesley Michelle Duncan
Third Row (from bottom): Victoria Yolanda Sallett (gave the invocation), April Nicole Day (Ryals), (Mr.) Shelly Thomas Kirkland, Jr., Stacey D. Stephens, Philip C. Decker, Jr. (Honor Graduate)
Fourth row from bottom, left to right: Jessica Aldridge, Shaneika Gordon, April Elizabeth Bryce, James Wendell Brown, Rachel LeAnn Kincaid (Honor Graduate), Joseph Martin Bonvissuto
Top Row: Joshua Brent Mahone, Christopher A. Warren, Frederick J. Bivens, Katrina Leanne McLeighton (Honor Graduate), Zabrae Bernard Williams

Doug Furman

Photo 2:
OTC welding program director Doug Furman was the featured speaker at the April 2011 GED graduation ceremony. Furman is an OTC graduate and the 2010 Rick Perkins Award Winner.


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