Officials from around Polk County and The HON Co. gathered to celebrate several students who finished up a program to help them find a job after their graduation from high school over the weekend.

Though The HON Co. won’t be hiring every single graduate of Project Success in 2017, they have hired several in the past, and this year they have 11 participants in the program to choose from.

Seniors from Cedartown and Rockmart High Schools received certificates and $250 bonuses from the company for graduating from the program this year as they worked both a job and went to classes during high school.

Project Success, which has provided the opportunity for the past three years, continues to grow according to College and Career Academy president Katie Thomas.

“It’s a phenomenal experience to be able to come see these kids, who not only met graduation requirements, but overcame many obstacles to get here and on top of that dedicated themselves to a program that required a lot of sacrifice,” she said.

Thomas said students have been working 20 hours at HON since they started the program and earned a paycheck while also keeping up with their studies for the year.

“We’re extremely proud of our kids, and extremely grateful for the participation of HON and GNTC in this program,” Thomas said.

HON Company’s Clay Cooper also had high praise for the graduates in 2017, who get a paycheck as well as dual enrollment credits through Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

“We’re setting students up for success no matter what career they choose,” he said. “But for a program like this to succeed, everyone has to have skin in the game.”

He said that without the participation between HON, GNTC and Polk School District, the trio wouldn’t be able to make the program work.

“We’re thrilled to be able to invest in being able to build the next generation of skilled workers in our community,” he said.

Cooper added that three participants were hired each year in 2015 and 2016, and they expect to hire more this year.

Thomas said Polk School District is interested in expanding the program with other businesses in the community, and only needs those businesses to decide to join forces for training local students to be part of the future work force.

“We want to be able to invest back into our community and provide the work force that our local businesses need,” Thomas said. “That’s our goal, and we’d like to see it expand into other businesses in the community.”

Simply put, Thomas said all it takes is a phone call to the Board of Education and a program can be specifically tailored to each business.