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Natchez High students inducted into jobs program

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Nyesha Chatman, left, lights Jamie Gails’ candle during the passing of the torch to induct the new members into the Natchez High School Jobs for Mississippi Graduates program Wednesday at the high school.

NATCHEZ — What is success?

That was the question posed to the newest members of Natchez High School’s Jobs for Mississippi Graduates program Wednesday at their induction ceremony.

Natchez-Adams County School Board member Tim Blalock said success is different for everyone.

“What’s important is your own happiness,” he said. “Happiness has nothing to do with money.”

Superintendent Frederick Hill told the students a story of boy who was predestined for failure because of barriers in his life but turned his life into a success. The boy, he said, was born the second child of a 17-year-old mother and was told by a teacher early in life that he was not “college material.” The boy was also turned away from military enlistment, he said, because he was medically unfit.

“This person I am referring to is none other than myself,” Hill said. “I quickly realized that the only barrier in my life was me.”

JMG Executive Director Ramona Williams asked the students another important question.

“Are you a chicken or are you an eagle?” she said.

“If you think only losers want to be in school, then you are a chicken,” Williams said. “If you think selling drugs and being a thug is all you want to do or making a baby that you cannot support emotionally or financially, then you are a chicken.”

An eagle, Williams told the students, soars high in the sky and achieves its goals.

“I desire you all to be eagles,” she said. “You are all already eagles because you are seeking to be successful.”

JMG is a private, non-profit program aimed at providing at-risk, public school students with the transitional skills they need to be successful after school.

JMG recognized its newly elected officers at the ceremony, and President Marneria White said the program is a big motivator for Natchez High students.

“It really motivates you to stay in school, go to college and get a career,” she said.

Junior Zavier Owens said JMG has not only motivated him to go to college, it has helped him choose a career.

“I used to be really shy, but I’ve learned speaking skills in JMG, and now I think I might want to go into public speaking,” Owens said.

Former JMG President Elizabeth Turnage passed the torch to White at the ceremony and said the program motivated her to attend Copiah-Lincoln Community College, where she is studying psychology.

“It really gave me a sense of responsibility,” she said. “And it taught me that I am the one responsible for my future.”

 

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