Havre Daily News/Nikki Carlson
Jesse Denny, right, hugs YouthBuild building trades instructor Holly Haas after receiving his YouthBuild certificate during graduation Wednesday afternoon in the Montana State University-Northern Student Union Building Ballroom.
As most people wind down their year for the holidays, one group of young people just kicked off their new lives on Tuesday.
The ballroom of the Montana State University-Northern Student Union Building was filled with family, friends and supporters of the eight graduates of YouthBuild’s fall 2011 session at their graduation ceremony on Tuesday afternoon.
A slide show of pictures from the 20-week program was projected on a screen above a table filled with each graduate’s wooden toolbox, as the group was lauded by YouthBuild director Bob Anderson, Interim Chancellor Joe Callahan and Havre Assembly of God pastor Curt Curtis, who offered prayers for the graduates as they take their next steps down a new path.
The group this session was quite a bit smaller than the last one. Eight students graduated on Tuesday, as opposed to the 20 who did so last May.
Anderson said that the classes were the same, proportionally. This session started with 15 students before they lost nearly half of those; similarly, the spring session lost about half of the program’s prior maximum enrollment of 40.
By working with smaller groups, the YouthBuild staff hopes to give the students more of the individual attention that would be required to raise the completion rate.
The next session, starting less than a month from now on Jan. 9, has 20 positions.
Anderson said they are about to interview about 35 candidates for those positions.
But as far as this session’s single-digit graduation group, Anderson said he sees “it more as a blip as opposed to a trend. ”
Fall 2011 YouthBuild graduates
Jesse Denny of Rocky Boy
Josef Fischer of Chinook
Anthony Flynn of Fort Belknap
Stormy Lathrop of Havre
Tyler Magnussen of Havre
Dean Nault of Rocky Boy
Rhye Temple of Havre
Kevin Ten Bear of Fort Belknap