Natchez High student reaches for biggest goal by graduating to working world

Published 12:00 am Friday, September 17, 2004

When John Scott walks across the stage to get his diploma Friday night you can bet there will be a lot of teary-eyed, smiling faces looking his direction.

And John wouldn’t have it any other way.

Being the center of attention is just his style.

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Perhaps that’s why his graduation invite list was so long.

&uot;The whole church is coming,&uot; he said. &uot;I have to invite them. And my family and cousins.&uot;

John wants all those people to be a part of his big day because he knows he’s achieved one of his biggest goals.

Six years ago when John joined Tommi Jones’ special education class at Natchez High School he set a goal.

Along with Jones and his parents, John, who has Downs Syndrome, decided then and there that he was going to graduate and get a job.

Now at age 21, the last year he can stay in Jones’ class, John has six months of training under his belt at McRae’s. And he loves it.

&uot;I feel happy,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m going back to my job at McRae’s where I fold clothes and take the censors out.&uot;

And John isn’t the only happy one.

&uot;It’s like a dream come true for a teacher,&uot; Jones said. &uot;This was a promise I made to John. His personality won’t allow him to sit at home. Now he can be with the public.&uot;

Right now John works 10 hours a week alongside mentor Gloria Clark. Clark, a job trainer with Mississippi Rehabilitation Services in McComb, will stay with John until he has the job down.

&uot;He’s a good worker, he does a good job,&uot; Clark said. &uot;He gets along with all the co-workers and brightens up the day of the customers. He’s very popular with the ladies.&uot;

Jones said John’s high verbal skills and character traits make a department store job with the public perfect for him.

&uot;He’s a wonderful person and has a good attitude,&uot; McRae’s co-worker Zerline King said.

Even though John is moving on he admits there will be a lot of things at NHS he misses.

&uot;My friends, my teachers, my girlfriends,&uot; he said.

And Jones said her classroom is going to be a lot different without John in it.

&uot;If I can see him being productive and see him doing a job he’s trained to do it will make me smile,&uot; she said. &uot;He’s achieved the goals set for him and that’s a blessing for all.&uot;

John’s father the Rev. John Scott Jr. said he knew it was going to be hard for John to say goodbye to NHS.

&uot;He loves them,&uot; Scott said. &uot;He’s going to want to go back next year. I’m really proud of him and the achievements he’s made in school and along with the things he’s accomplished he’s had some great teachers.&uot;

John is the second of Jones’ special education students to graduate and get a job in her 15 years at NHS.

&uot;I’m just so happy that he is graduating and he is employed,&uot; Scott said. &uot;He’s enjoying it and it means a great deal to him. And that means a lot to me.&uot;

John will graduate at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Natchez High School.

&uot;I’m blessed. Thank you Lord,&uot; John said.