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Forrest General Hospital Project SEARCH Program Graduates Nine Students During 2022 Ceremony - Forrest Health
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    Published on May 16, 2022

    Forrest General Hospital Project SEARCH Program Graduates Nine Students During 2022 Ceremony

    HATTIESBURG, Miss. – (May 16, 2022) Proud parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, aunts, and uncles came bearing balloons, flowers, and gifts Friday as the Forrest General Hospital Project Search Class of 2022 graduated. Alongside them were also members of the hospital staff who have helped train these young adults during the last nine months.

    Project SEARCH, a program started by the Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, is designed to help students with varying intellectual disabilities move into the workforce after high school. This is the third class to train alongside mentors at Forrest General where each student worked three rotations in departments such as Radiology, Food and Nutrition, Patient Transport, Canteen, Gift Shop, IT, Same Day Surgery, and Outpatient Registration. The skills the students learn while in each of these departments are based on the skillset for that particular department and job.

    The Project Search class is made up of students from the Hattiesburg Public, Petal, and Lamar County school districts. While most of the graduates already have a job, others will now seek employment in their respective communities with a year’s worth of hands-on experience under their belts. Graduates include:

    Hattiesburg High School

    • Dalia King, working at Little Caesar’s in Petal
    • Markell McKines, working at the Wendy’s (Hwy. 49 South), near Walmart.

     

    Lamar County Schools

    • Bennett Clemmons, working at Edwards Street Mission Store
    • Aundrea Davis, working at Midtown Corner Market Bakery
    • Tytiana Griffin, working at Dairy Queen, Hwy. 49
    • Cody Spillman, waiting on employment

    Petal High School

    • Jimmy Dunkle, waiting on employment
    • Robin DeRossett, working at Wendy’s (Hwy. 49 North) near Stuckey’s
    • Matthew Myers, will attend ARC Rise and Shine

    Forrest Health Vice President, Vance Green, welcomed guests to this special event noting that this is the third year the hospital has had the honor to work with these special groups of individuals. “We are honored to play such a role,” he said. “You don’t know what a difference you’ve made in our lives. You have impacted all of us, so thank you. Today is such a big day. It’s bittersweet for us. We love you, and you will be missed, but we look forward to what you’re going to bring to the rest of the world.”

    Chris Howard, executive director of Mississippi Department of Rehabilitation Services, congratulated graduates on reaching this milestone. “Not only have they learned hard skills, but also soft skills, like coming to work on time, working with their peers, taking breaks on time, and working with the public,” Howard said. In addition, these students also work on communication, team-building activities, and attendance, learning that if one person is out sick, they must all pitch in to pick up the slack.

    Howard noted that a lot of states had shut should down their Project SEARCH programs due to COVID-19. “But because of these three awesome school districts, Hattiesburg Public, Lamar County and Petal, and Forrest General, who truly see the value of the program, we didn’t shut it down. We have 13 sites around the state and didn’t shut down one of them. As a result, 60 young adults are going to go through a graduation and have that valuable work experience.”

    Graduates had a part in the ceremony with Dalia King giving the prayer; Cody Spillman acknowledging department mentors; and Jimmy Dunkle, and Matthew Myers providing closing remarks.

    FGH Liaison, Jeremy Lilly, who worked closely with this year's class, announced the names of graduates as they were presented a Graduation Certificate from Project SEARCH instructor, Heather Reid.

    The class of 2023 has already been chosen and will begin their on-the-job training at the start of the new school year. For more information about Project SEARCH, contact your school district, visit the Project SEARCH-Forrest General Hospital Facebook page or email Reid at Heather.Reid@petalschools.com.

    If you would like to view additional photos and videos from Forrest Health, please visit our media page at https://media.forresthealth.org/.


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