Graduation is an ‘ending’ and a ‘beginning’
by D. Gary Davis, Bradley County Mayor
May 14, 2013 | 543 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Graduation season is here as high school seniors and college students collect their diplomas and degrees while making plans for another phase of their lives.

It’s a time of endings as well as new beginnings as students say goodbye to classmates and look ahead for new opportunities. Local college graduates may find those opportunities in the job market. Many high school graduates will find opportunities to continue their education and several will no doubt enroll at our two local institutions, Lee University and Cleveland State Community College.

Collectively, the three high schools’ senior classes total 958 students. Bradley Central High School graduated 327 and Cleveland High had 274, with Walker Valley showing the largest number in the senior class with 357.

On May 4, Lee University conferred undergraduate degrees on 377 students and 44 received graduate degrees; 78 of those were education majors and some will no doubt find teaching positions in our city and county schools. These university graduates represented 30 states and 13 other countries.

Cleveland State Community College also had a sizeable graduating class of approximately 650, with students receiving two-year degrees and certificates in numerous majors ranging from nursing, criminal justice, business, computer science and more. This was CSCC’s 45th Commencement Ceremony and our three high schools have become excellent feeder schools for both Cleveland State and Lee University.

The graduating classes at our three high schools are an impressive group. At Walker Valley High, 86 percent plan to continue their education at a college, university or trade school; 211 earned a GPA of 3.0, 166 WVHS graduates earned a 3.5 GPA, and 20 had a 4.0. And, 65 graduated with honors.

Some 84 percent of Bradley Central’s graduating class plans to continue their education after high school; 51.1 percent expect to enroll at CSCC, 34 percent will attend a four-year college or university and 8.2 percent plan to join the military.

Some 80 percent of Cleveland High School graduates plan to attend a two- or four-year college and 20 percent plan to enroll in a career/trade school or the military. Impressively, 72 CHS graduates have been awarded the Tennessee Achieves Scholarship at Cleveland State and 58 have been recognized as Tennessee Scholars.

Collectively, the graduating classes from all three high schools have earned $16.3 million in scholarships!

Education is the prerequisite for opportunity and success, and is critically important for any community seeking new industry and economic development. Investing in a skilled and trained workforce may be the very best asset we can create as a community due to the school systems’ importance to economic growth. Major corporations such as Wacker, Amazon, Whirlpool, Olin, M&M Mars and Volkswagen look at the quality of a community’s education system before establishing a presence there. The good-paying jobs in these plants require a certain level of technical ability and reasoning skills.

Thanks to our outstanding education systems we are able to assist these companies in meeting their labor force needs. I have always been a big supporter of our public schools and am proud of the job they are doing.

I join the parents, teachers, staff and administrators in congratulating the members of the 2013 graduating classes for their impressive achievement. These dedicated educators’ jobs do not always begin at 7 a.m. and end at 3:30 p.m. They spend many extra hours inside and outside the classroom to ensure a quality education for all our children.

Educators, thanks to each of you for all that you do. You are a primary reason that Bradley County is Tennessee at its best.