On Tuesday, May 21, 12 for Life® honored the Class of 2019 and a decade of graduates through the program’s Florence, Ala. partnership.
In 2007, Southwire embarked on a unique partnership with Carroll County Schools in Carrollton, Ga. that has grown to impact thousands of lives — a partnership which 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. In 2009, the program expanded into Florence, Ala. and a partnership was formed between Southwire and Florence City Schools. Since that time, nearly 375 students have completed the program in this area.
“This is the tenth anniversary of 12 for Life in Florence, and to say this program has been a success is an understatement,” said Dr. Corey Behel, director of partnerships and 12 for Life for Florence City Schools. “It has been life changing for our students and for our schools, providing a catalyst for career opportunities, and we are so fortunate that we have been part of this partnership and this journey.”
The program’s Florence location currently has approximately 120 participants who work with Southwire and other community business partners.
12 for Life will recognize nearly 400 graduates for 2019, including 47 students from the Florence location, 195 students from Carroll, Haralson and Heard County Schools in Ga., 124 through the Great Promise Partnership and 29 from Textron Specialized Vehicles, Inc.’s Reaching Potential Through Manufacturing (RPM) program in Richmond County, Ga. These graduates mark a total of more than 2,900 students who have completed 12 for Life to date.
The 2019 ceremony was hosted by the Marriott Shoals Hotel and Convention Center. Attendees included students, teachers, parents, school system representatives, Southwire employees, community leaders and friends. Each graduate was honored with a certificate, a cord and other gifts from Southwire and the school system.
“One door is closing, and a huge door is opening for you,” said Marcus Johnson, Florence 12 for Life manager as he addressed the graduates. “A wise man once told me that when someone invests in you, it means they see something in you. Take that investment and allow it to impact your life for the better. This is a stepping stone to unlimited possibilities and opportunities.”
Encouraging students to focus on the impact of their attitudes and to think about the qualities that define leadership, Fredrick Bailey delivered a keynote address to the graduates. Bailey, a mentor, author, motivational speaker and board member for Communities in Schools, frequently shares the story of how he emerged from a childhood home of poverty and addiction in hopes to better equip individuals to be agents of change.
“Somebody helped me believe, so I want you to remember that who you keep as company matters. Find people who will elevate you, love you, push you and make you a better person,” Bailey said as he encouraged the class. “Don’t allow one problem to change your whole life, and always remember, no matter where you land in life, to be humble, thankful and grateful.”
In addition to the recognition of each graduate, several awards and scholarships were granted during the ceremony. The annual awards for Mr. and Miss Southwire were presented to Devon Miclisse and Makaila Swinney for their dedication, attitude and achievements through the program. Special awards for traits such as leadership, dedication, resilience and endurance were given to Liddie Howard, Alissa Byrd, Matthew McKinney, Isaac Husley, Jazmine Ricks and Isaiah Nelson. Highlighting their academic achievements, Giomar Zelaya and Amiya Carter were awarded plaques for the highest grade point averages.
Representatives from Northwest-Shoals Community College (NWSCC), the University of North Alabama (UNA) and First United Methodist Children’s Home presented scholarships to qualifying students. Receiving the scholarships from NWSCC were Amiya Carter and Jamica McKelvey. Makaila Swinney and Alissa Byrd were presented with scholarships to UNA and Byrd and Lelyand Allen received scholarships from the First United Methodist Children’s Home.
Leaders of the program also honored several community members who volunteer throughout the year and provide additional support to the students, including Charles Cabler, Dr. Trevor Crenshaw and Betty Godwin.
The event closed with recollections by former students and remarks from Florence High School Principal Dr. Rod Sheppard, who reiterated the significance of the program’s 10-year anniversary, encouraged the graduates and reminded them that their diplomas are a “ticket to the rest of the world.”