|MONROE TOWNSHIP - The New Jersey Juvenile Justice Commission (JJC) held its annual high school commencement ceremony this past Friday at the New Jersey Training School (NJTS) in Monroe Township. Former NFL tight end Fred Baxter delivered the keynote address. Kevin M. Brown, Executive Director of the JJC, presented the graduates with their high school diplomas or High School Equivalency Diplomas (HSED). A total of 114 students have received their diplomas or HSEDs during the JJC 2014-2015 academic year. In addition to the 46 students participating in the commencement ceremony, 68 students received their diplomas or HSEDs earlier and have since been released from JJC supervision or did not participate in the ceremony. The JJC’s school year includes five marking periods, concluding in mid-September.
Keynote speaker Baxter played in the NFL for 12 years with the New York Jets, Chicago Bears, and the New England Patriots, where he claimed a Super Bowl XXXVIII victory. In 2000, Baxter founded The Fred Baxter Foundation to support the academic and physical development of disadvantaged youth and families through existing charities worldwide. The foundation targets educational programs that support and empower adults thereby increasing their ability to become self-sufficient and improve their quality of life.
“Graduation is a milestone for every student – one that often seems far off and difficult to obtain. Our JJC students have overcome many challenges through hard work and dedication in order to reach this day,” said Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman. “Many of these students were not attending school, or were performing well below grade level, when they entered the JJC. Today, these young men and women and their families know what success feels like. We wish them our very best as they continue to pursue educational and career readiness programs.”
All graduates have met the high school graduation requirements set forth by the New Jersey Department of Education. The JJC coordinates each student’s curricula with his or her home school district to allow each student to receive a diploma from his or her local education authority, when possible. Students receiving their degrees today are assigned to the NJTS, Juvenile Medium Security Facility (JMSF), the Female Secure and Intake Facility, and several of the JJC’s residential community homes, day programs and transitional programs located throughout the state.
“The Juvenile Justice Commission has a challenging job -- to turn around the lives of troubled young people. A high school diploma or an equivalency degree will open many doors that otherwise would have remained closed to these young people,” said Executive Director Brown. “Graduation day is a big step along a challenging path. In fact, the sense of accomplishment and self-worth that this achievement imparts on these individuals is almost as valuable as the diploma itself.”
Barbara Miller, co-chair of the New Jersey Association of County Youth Services Commission Administrators representing Sussex County, along with Shelby Voorhees, Ocean County Youth Services Commission Administrator, presented eight graduates with awards recognizing their success in the following areas: Mathematics, English, Social Studies, Science, Art, Career and Technical Education, World Languages, and GED Score. Each recipient received $25.00 and a certificate of recognition awarded by the association.
The Office of Education provides an appropriate and comprehensive educational program specific to each youth, while promoting opportunities for positive growth and development. The goal of the JJC educational program is to prepare students for continued learning and workforce preparation by offering a wide-range of challenging academic and career-technical experiences that meet the needs of all students, including those with special needs. In addition to academics, the Office of Education provides Career and Technical programs of study that prepare students for high skill, high wage, or high demand occupations. The JJC offers a variety of programs including: Applied Horticulture Sciences, Culinary Arts with ServSafe Certification, Graphic Arts, Plumbing and Pipefitting, and Computer Applications with various certifications.
For more information on the JJC, please visit www.njjjc.com.