July 19, 2014 marks the second year of Orion's commencement ceremony in the great state of Mississippi. Alcorn State University in Lorman, MS, is the host to this year's commencement ceremony. The ceremony marks Orion's second year in Mississippi, and also marks the second year of Alcorn hosting the ceremony. This year's ceremony celebrates the milestone of many young people from Mississippi, who have been at Orion High School over the past several months. Orion High School requires learners to create and present a senior project, which contains several milestones throughout the project. Senior Projects fall in one of these categories: Service to Others; Service to Family; Self-Improvement; and Research Opportunity. The Senior Project is a requirement under Orion High School's Diploma Eligibility Project (also known as Oron's EmpowerU Program). Orion's goal with the Senior Projects is to convey the importance of service to our graduates, and to instill a sense of community and empowerment.
The young people shown on the picture on this page (in addition to other work), participated in two major service projects for community improvement in Port Gibson, MS, and in the surrounding communities. The first project focused on cleaning and assisting at the local library. The second, larger in focus, was aimed at reducing gun violence, which devastaingly affects young people in this country. The learners created a
public campaign, where they shared research related to gun deaths, and they brought law enforcement and other community leaders together, in order to devise a plan of action, which would lead to reduced incidents, not only in the local community, but in the larger community of Mississippi.
The Project was presented to Dr. Gallegos and the learners were urged by Dr. Gallegos to always "strive to leave a legacy where people benefit from the work you've done." Melvin Anderson (shown in the picture to the far right), is the key to bringing these young people to Orion in an effort to not only help local schools reduct dropout rates, but, more importantly, to help young people earn a diploma which allows them the opportunites for a better future for themselves and for their families. Melvin's organization, Southern Dreams of Mississippi, has been an active partner with Orion High School over the past two years. In that short time, Melvin and Orion have helped over 50 learners achieve their goal of high school graduation.
In today's commencement ceremony, Tamara Adams (a Mississippi learner-graduate) will be one of the guest speakers, as well as Kathern Harless (a learner-graduate from Memphis, TN). Tamara Adams worked tirelessly on a Senior Project intended on researching careers in Physical Therapy (and related health occupations). Her research and committment to her Project earn her the Senior Project of the Year for Mississippi.
Kathern Harless, joins us at our ceremony in Mississippi, and will honor us as our second guest speaker. Kathern exemplifies persistence and resilience. Her committment to her studies at Orion have earned her the respect of her mentors, and fellow learners. As an adult learner, Kathern's persistence through difficult times, make her a model for others to follow.