The City of Statesboro’s Youth Connect Program hosted its Class of 2022 Recognition Ceremony on July 1, 2022, at City Hall.

The annual program takes place each Summer and is for high school students to interact with government and community leaders, along with other professionals, to obtain valuable skills, according to Statesboro Youth Connect’s webpage.

Statesboro YCP participant Kylan Ifeji learned computer repair skills from leaders in the City’s IT Department.
Credit: Layne Phillips, City of Statesboro

The ceremony began with a speech given by Demetrius Bynes, Director of Human Resources for the City of Statesboro, who led the five-week program. He recognized the parents of the students, elected officials and staff who supervised the students.

“It seems like it’s been a long time since May but it’s been a fun ride with these students,” said Bynes.

Following this, two students gave speeches reflecting on their time in this program. These students were Charlize Bonds and Taniyah Johnson.

“During this five-week period I not only learned teamwork, I also learned how to file and scan, how to organize files, how to communicate within the workplace, civility, how to ignore inconsiderate coworkers and how fun it could be to work in an office under all different types of circumstances,” said Bonds. “I will always be appreciative of this experience because I learned a lot during my five-week time working here.

“During my internship, I learned what it takes to grow a small business. From marketing to financing, small business owners carry a lot of responsibilities,” said Johnson. “ I am beyond grateful for this opportunity and will use it as a learning lesson for my future.”

Both students thanked Mayor Jonathan McCollar, Bynes, and council members for their time.

Gabriel Glover, left, shakes hands with Mayor Jonathan McCollar, center, before receiving a gift from Councilwoman Venus Mack and Mayor Pro Tem Shari Barr. Credit: Layne Phillips, City of Statesboro

After the students delivered their speeches, McCollar addressed the audience.

“Young people, we are extremely proud of the work you’ve done this summer,” said McCollar in part of his speech. “You’re having the opportunity to work with people that are leaders in their field, so you’re getting first-hand knowledge from experts that’s dedicated not just to this community but to you.”

After McCollar’s speech, each student who graduated from the program was called to receive an award and small gift and to take a picture with McCollar, Councilwoman Venus Mack and Mayor Pro Tem Shari Barr.

The Statesboro YCP Class of 2022 graduates are: Charlize Bonds, Travon Browne, Megan Donaldson, Javon Evans, Nija Garrett , Gabriel Glover, Trevon Harden, Chatanesia Hendrix, Quailnija Hills, Kylan Ifeji, Jacob Imhoff, Taniyah Johnson, Chloe Jones, Jaydon Lawson, Aaliyah Rice, Yasmin Riden, Laylah Scarboro, Colin Sikes, Cori Smith, Dyman Young and Sparkle Young.

Members of the Statesboro YCP Class of 2022 pose for a photo on the steps of City Hall. Credit: Layne Phillips, City of Statesboro

“I would like to remind you all to keep in touch with your supervisors. These individuals can serve as a mentor and a great reference for you as you navigate high school and move into college or wherever your life is going to take you,” said Bynes as he ended the ceremony.

For more information of the City of Statesboro’s Youth Connect Program, visit the website statesboroga.gov/youthconnect.

Kristen Kelly

Kristen Kelly

Kristen is a native Savannahian and current journalism major at Georgia Southern Universities Statesboro campus.