Having completed a year at YouthBuild Lawrence, thirty young people from the class of 2014 celebrated their accomplishments during a ceremony held with families, friends and dignitaries. The successful students were: Heriberto Alvarado, Julio Amezaga, Jessenia Aponte, Lorraine Aponte, Joseph Benitez, Rosemary Cabrera, Alejandro Calderon, Robert Connearney, Francisco Cortes, Joshua Davila, Julio Gil, Felicia Gomes, Joseph Gomez, Maria Gonzales, Luis Hiraldo, Destiny Iorio, Joshua Machado, Arleny Matias, Syliane Mede, Daniel Morales, Juan Carlos Negron, Denis Orellano, Jorvanny Ortiz, Kayla Perez, Magalis Ponce, Marilyn Rivera, Jonairi Rodriguez, Luis Rosa, Idolina Ruiz and Jose Vasquez.
A number of public officials offered words of congratulations as well as encouragements to the graduates. Mayor Daniel Rivera spoke to the students. He has been involved with the program throughout the year. He was even interviewed by several of the students for a story that was published in the YB Lawrence Newsletter, Orange Wheeler Clip. Mayor Rivera talked to the students about his background as well as some of the decisions that he must make in his role as the Mayor of a major city. They also were able to relate to the mayor as he spoke about the ways in which he volunteers his time to help others in the city.
The keynote address was delivered by Wendy Taylor, the Lead Education and Career Counselor at the Collaborative for Educational Services for the Department of Youth Services. Her address echoed the thoughts of the evening, for the students to use the skills developed in the program to build a positive and productive future. She also spoke about the importance of a YouthBuild program in providing a positive atmosphere for young people who are looking to rebuild their lives through education and skill development.
Modesto Maldonado, President of the Lawrence City Council also offered his congratulations on behalf of the city of Lawrence. His heartfelt words of encouragement urged the students to move on from this accomplishment as a part of the journey they are on in building a successful future. Each of the students was presented with a citation from the city of Lawrence honoring their achievements. There was also a word of advice to make a reduced size copy to include with their resumes as they enter the world of work.
One person who has become a familiar face at YouthBuild Lawrence Completion ceremonies is State Representative, Frank Moran. Rep. Moran has attended for the past three years and has been a strong supporter of YouthBuild in the State Legislature. He emphasized the importance of the skills that were learned through their participation in the YouthBuild program. He also presented a citation from the Massachusetts House of Representatives signed by Rep. Moran and the Speaker of the House.
Graduate Luis Hiraldo was presented with the Leadership Award for the 2014 Class. He spoke enthusiastically to his peers about the accomplishments they had all made during the year. In addition to the award that was presented to Luis, other awards were presented to students in the areas of education, construction, community service and leadership. These awards were presented to the students by various staff members.
A special acknowledgement is given to the work of Director, April Lyskowsky and the staff at YB Lawrence who have put together such a successful program offered to the students participating in this quality program. The success of these students is a testimony to the dedication, knowledge and ingenuity of this first-rate staff!