U.S. Rep. Michael Guest spoke to McComb High School students taking part in the Jobs for Mississippi Graduates campaign Tuesday morning.
The District 3 congressman spoke about his respect for the program, its participants and how happy he is about not only the economy but the job market in the state.
“I’m here today to talk about the incredible things this job placement program is doing throughout our state,” Guest said. “I am also here — I want to talk to you a little bit about ... the strength of our economy.”
JMG, an affiliate of Jobs for American Graduates, focuses on teaching middle and high school students employability skills, including resumé making, job searching and interview techniques to help them better integrate into the labor force or attend college.
“It is just here to uplight and teach those skills to the students that are going into the work force,” McComb High School principal Robert Lamkin said of the program.
McComb High, which is one of 64 schools in Mississippi in the program, was picked specifically by Guest to visit, according to Executive Director Ramona Williams.
“We are elated that he chose our McComb High School program here,” Williams said. “We want to showcase the well-being of our students and to see first-hand how our students are.”
Williams said the program, which started 27 years ago, helps students with more than job searching. It requires students to apply for at least two colleges, and helps with financial aid paperwork while teaching students how to conduct themselves while working.
“This summit today, with Congressman Guest, is one where he wants to see our program,” Williams said. “To see how we carry out our program in the state, and because our program is one that receives federal grants and dollars, he wanted to see how our program operates.”
Lamkin said he was excited for his school to represent JMG as a whole for Guest.
“I think this is a golden opportunity for our city, our school district, our school to represent our JMG,” Lamkin said. “I think it is fantastic to have such an esteemed Congressman to come in and see just what we are all about and just what we do here at McComb High School.”
Guest addressed the students in the program after opening statements from McComb School District Superintendent Dr. Cederick Ellis, McComb Selectman Ronnie Brock, Mayor Quordiniah Lockley, Summit Mayor Percy Robinson and Weyerhaeuser manager Doug Hay, as well as readings from multiple students and a song by the McComb High School Choir.
“You are fortunate that you will soon be graduating into an economy that is looking for people to fill jobs,” Guest said.
He praised both the national unemployment rate and the national economy. He said the national unemployment rate is almost at a 50-year low at 3.6%, and that African American, Hispanic and veteran unemployment rates are at a “record low.”
“One of the reasons we are able to continue to grow the economy is job creation and job placement programs such as this,” Guest said.
Though Guest was an hour late to the summit, Williams filled time with the students by quizzing them on their knowledge of interviewing and resume’ making, and whoever answered the question correctly was given $20 for their effort.