Earlier this week at the HON Company in Cedartown, nine proud high school students celebrated completion of a program that was all about partnership. Aptly named Project Success, it was all about success, too.

Project Success began in 2013 as a collaborative effort between Georgia Northwestern Technical College, The HON Company, the Great Promise Partnership, Polk County Schools, and the Polk County Chamber of Commerce.

As part of Project Success, the students earned course credit toward a post-secondary education at the same time they were involved in work-based learning in manufacturing. The students that participated earned a steady paycheck, technical and professional skills, and a certificate in manufacturing. The credits the students earned are transferable to any manufacturing program in the Technical College System of Georgia.

Clay Cooper, community relations manager at The HON Company began the celebration by providing some background on how Project Success was first developed.

“It’s a culmination of a journey today that started with The HON Company and Polk County Schools and other community partners back in 2011,” said Cooper. “This group was united in creating a unique work-based learning program that would help impact graduation rates in Polk County Schools and attract future generations to careers in manufacturing.”

Specifically, students attended a GNTC class at The HON Company in Cedartown, Monday through Thursday, from 3:15 to 3:50 p.m. and then worked in manufacturing from 4 to 9 p.m. The students had a classroom and computer lab at The HON Company as well as a dedicated workspace where they assembled office furniture. They also were paid a competitive wage and held to the same standards as employees at The HON Company.

Todd Murphy, vice president of manufacturing at HNI Corporation, The HON Company’s parent company, gave the students credit for their part in making the unique project work:

“Your efforts have helped develop this community initiative project and you paved the way for others to come behind you,” said Murphy “This will further benefit Polk County students, our community, and our company going forward.”