Grayson Technical Apprenticeship Program staff recognized the students graduating the apprenticeship program on Saturday, Dec. 20. This is the fifth graduation ceremony for students to celebrate their accomplishments.
Fifteen students graduated and received their certification in one of 12 trades offered, including machine operator, installer servicer, drywall finisher/electrician, construction craft laborer, building inspector (construction) and plumber craft apprentice.
Grayson is a company employer sponsored apprenticeship career training program located in Loris. Students attend a 24 month program targeting students ages 16 to adults, they also have a high school program. Students learn in a hands-on program with 376 classroom hours that includes lab construction and skilled trades incorporating hands-on intern job skills at worksites. The students are provided 5,000 hours of intern construction job experience giving a unique pathway to construction trade employment upon graduating the program.
Guest speaker, Todd Harrelson, mayor of Loris, said, “I’m proud to be here to celebrate the fifth graduating class of the Grayson Technical Apprenticeship Program.” He continued, “Expanding skilled journeyman trades opportunities for individuals, like you, who help increase Loris and the surrounding areas workforce through program like Grayson Technical is paramount to our success of our state.” He ended with, “Each one of you should be proud of what you have accomplished today and be confident in your potential to succeed.” Harrelson said that the community stands behind the students, invest in them and are counting on them because they are the future. He applauds the programs for the strong emphasis placed on the expansion of apprenticeships to provide opportunities for Loris’ future workforce. He said, “Director Kimberly Grayson and the Grayson Technical and the Grayson Technical Apprentice program are leading the way through this innovative program that leverages the critical intersection between education and workforce development to ensure student have rewarding trade careers growing construction industries.”
Zackary Orin Taylor was recognized for his dedication, hard work and discipline he displayed through the 24 month program; a blue cord was presented signifying the mastery in the job training and completion of the 2019 Trades Program. The mayor congratulated Taylor for receiving a $6,800 Training Award and the 2019 Valedictorian. Taylor is the first certified journeyman level building inspector graduating the program.
As Valedictorian Taylor said, “I feel really good to be the first one in my family to graduate a technical trade program.” He is the first building inspector in this program, and is proud of being able to have the opportunity to take the state test in January. He thanked the staff as well as his family and friends who came to celebrate his graduation.
Nicolas Lefave thanked everyone for coming to the graduation ceremony. He said, “This opportunity has helped me to develop and learn who I am in the workforce;” he continued, “Thank you Grayson Technical staff, my parents and you all for being here for me.” He stated he feels that he has developed and grown in the workforce as a capable employable person, he said, “I now have my journeyman’s license which will take me farther.”
Dirk Martin, Grayson Technical alumni, spoke about his experience with apprenticeship program where he received the training necessary for him to be employed in the construction field as a supervisor. He shared his salary with having a journeyman license; he is now able to take care of his family. Martin said, “The Grayson Technical program helped me to change my life, the apprenticeship program was the driving force to make it in the working world.”
Loris Police Chief Gary Buley stated he has attended the graduation ceremonies for Grayson since he came to Horry County. He has supported the program and would like to see the programs grow in the Loris area. Buley said he is thankful for the staff at Grayson to invite him to be a part of the program.
Kirsten Pratt from Carolina Apprenticeship spoke about the many different apprenticeship training programs offered across the state of South Carolina. She congratulated the staff at Grayson who worked with the students through the program which provided job training, how graduates will receive an income with yearly wage increases. She stated the apprentices will be earned with classroom instruction upon completion of the program. She concluded with, “The implemented program Grayson provides shows the success of the students who stand to receive their certification tonight.”
The graduating class of 2019 are Keoasha Dockery, Irene Gaddy, Sabrina Arnolt, Jahman Samuels, Jamar Tisdale, Richard Lefave, Nicolas Lefave, Monique Johnson, Justice Sherrald and Zackary Taylor at the Loris location. A separate ceremony was held for the Little River students Sherry Coles, Donna Gibson, Tina Williams, Kelly Simpson, Isaiah Williams, Kennedy Smith, James Williams, Tamara Smith, Mary Williams, Tommy Gray and Dantone Norman.
Many of the students who spoke at the ceremony stated that they give the credit to the Graysons and Grayson Technical for their success. One student stated that they had been told they would never make it through training, much less get a job; the quote said, “Look at me now, here I proudly stand proving the nay-sayers wrong.” Some of the students at Grayson have disabilities such as autism and behavioral problems where they have been dependent upon family to help them in the world once they reach the age of 21. Grayson works with the students in many levels of education, however, they add anger management, role play and train to deal with the public. Two students attended public school as well as spending the afternoon in the apprenticeship program; they had rage feeling different from other students since they began school in kindergarten. Grayson’s staff gave them the tools to work through the anger, how to deal with bullies or rude people and to stand proud of themselves as they have not only matured but have accepted that they can do anything they put their heart and mind to doing.