Lanett seniors celebrate achievement of computer skills

Published 9:00 am Thursday, March 30, 2023

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LANETT — Spring is a time of year for lots of graduation ceremonies. Young people in their late teens and early twenties don caps and gowns to accept that high school diploma or college degree. One of the first commencements of the current season will be taking place Friday afternoon at Lanett City Hall and will be one of the more unusual ceremonies. The graduates won’t be in their teens and twenties. The youngest will be 60 and the oldest 87.

Most of them are participants in the Lanett Senior Center program. They recently completed a 12-week course in basic computer skills. Instruction took place inside the blue top building at the L.B. Sykes Community Center. It was arranged by the Valley campus of Southern Union State Community College and Debra Clark was their teacher.

“They learned a lot in a short amount of time,” said Senior Center Manager Sandra Thornton. “Most of them did not know how to turn on a laptop computer when the course started. They learned that on the first day and have since learned how to use passwords, head sets, how to watch out for scams, how to use Zoom – anything to do with a laptop computer or a smartphone.”

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Thornton said the seniors who took the course have a whole new world open to them and they are grateful. “They are so excited to be in a graduation program Friday afternoon,” she said. “We want to thank the Reed Foundation for donating the graduation caps they will be wearing in the ceremony, and we want to thank Dee Lancaster for donating the stoles they will be wearing. Some of our seniors have never been in any kind of graduation ceremony before. Doing this means a a lot to them. We are hoping lots of their family members and church friends will be there at 3 p.m. on Friday for their special day.”

The course the seniors took was funded by a grant. Future courses are being arranged.

At 3 p.m. on Friday, the Lanett High JROTC cadets will lead the processional inside the council chamber at Lanett City Hall. Mayor Jamie Heard will welcome everyone; Dr. Jennifer Boyd, superintendent of Lanett City Schools will offer greetings and Rev. Rodney Jones, city chaplain, will deliver the invocation. LPD Officer Dwayne Fears will be singing before the speaking begins.

Dr. Michael Morrison of the East Alabama Area Agency on the Aging will be speaking at the graduation followed by keynote speaker Rev. Michael Winston, pastor of Greenwood Baptist Church. The class valedictorian, Brenda Heard, will also be speaking. Awards will be presented by the class teacher, Debra Clark, and Senior Center Manager Sandra Thornton.

The diplomas will be presented by Conner Chauveaux, director of adult education at SUSCC.

Mayor Heard will then make some closing remarks.

Members of the graduating class include Albert Autry, John Floyd, Mary Floyd, Phyllis Floyd, Janice Harrison, Brenda Heard (valedictorian), Janice Heard, Peggy Hraboskie, Ruth Lariscy, Joyce McLemore, Jewel Nelloms, Rudine Smith, Betty Travick, Dorothy Travis, Annette Towles, Fannie Spence, Beatrice Ware, Betty Ward (salutatorian), Sarah Williams and Corinthian Woody.

The graduates-to-be say the class helped them a lot. “I learned so much,” said Corinthian Woody. “I learned how do files, documents and how to write letters.”

“I didn’t know the first thing about a computer,” said Jewel Nelloms. “My hands had never been on a keyboard, and I didn’t know how to turn it on or off. I really enjoyed learning how to use a laptop.”

“It  was a very good experience for me,” said Mary Floyd. “It was so inspiring to learn so many things I didn’t know.”

“I had taken a similar class before,” said Betty Travick, “but it was good to have a refresher course. I appreciate the senior center and Southern Union making it possible.”

“We had a wonderful teacher,” said Fannie Spence. “We learned so much from her.”

“I had worked with computers before, but this was my first time on a laptop,” said Betty Ward. “It was so helpful for me to take this class. I’m grateful I was able to take it.”

“I enjoyed taking the class with my fellow seniors,” said Annette Towles. “We learned new things in every class. It meant a lot to us to learn new skills.”

“I thought for so long that I would never learn anything about computers,” said Joyce McLemore. “I thank God this course opened a new world to me.”