Alva Review-Courier -

Find your purpose in life


February 10, 2019

Desiree Malicoat

2019 BJCC GED graduation class – Front row, from left: Jordan Sheridan, Chiloh Webb, Nokocha Yates, Zachery Riff, Brandon Shadrick, Roman Chaparro, Justin Noonkester, Ronald Doyals, Collin Clark, Jesse Eycher, Luis Martinez, Ramiro Casas. Second row: Marquinn Simon, Michael James, Joshua Dunlap, James Southern, Kylor Ledgerwood, James Schmitt, Josiah White, Dustin Jones, Raymond Beardsley, Timothy Hess, James Wall, Christopher Murphy, Wesly Koehn, Deangelo Frazier, Tyran Goodman, Evan Raymundo-Perez, Ryder McGrath. Back row: Devin Bridges, Samuel Americano, Johnny Dean, Timothy Toone, Christopher Scott, Bradley Chambers, Dakota Rogers, Shawn Hines, James Simons, Joshua Wood, Juventino Ambrosio.

After a lot of studying and completing testing, the Bill Johnson Correctional Center GED Class of 2019 was honored Friday, Feb. 8. Family members were able to visit the inmates before the ceremony, which began at 10 a.m. in the chapel.

Warden Becky Guffy welcomed the graduates and guests. She shared a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in the moment of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy."

She told the grads, "This is your time of challenge and controversy." She encouraged them to "go be somebody great."

Lyon Retiring

Guffy announced this was Greg Lyon's last GED graduation. He has been the site supervisor at BJCC for six years, and this was his 20th GED graduation. "That's three times what the average high school does in that time frame," said Guffy. The warden presented Lyon with an engraved clock.

Lyon examined the gift and said, "I spent 32 years with the Alva Schools. They gave me a clock also, but they spelled my name wrong." He said this one had his name right.

"We're very proud of these guys," Lyon said of the graduates. "They've taken a tough test, passed it and done really well with it. The guys you see with satin collars scored in the top 20 percent of the nation on the test."

Class Salutatorian Ryder McGrath and Valedictorian Zachary Riff made brief remarks.

Then Lyon introduced the keynote speaker Dr. Bo Hannaford, vice president for academic affairs at Northwestern Oklahoma State University (NWOSU). After graduating from Alva High School, Hannaford obtained his bachelor's degree from NWOSU and began a career in education. After earning his doctorate in 2010, he returned to NWOSU.

Follow Your Plan and Purpose

"Today is and should be about you all," Hannaford told the graduates. He said he was proud of them, "each and every one of you matter, you're important and you have a purpose in your life."

"I'm a firm believer that if you have a good plan, you have a good direction, you guys can do whatever you want to once you leave here."

Hannaford said despite their time at BJCC, "the circumstances that brought you here can be long forgotten and you can be remembered for so much more if you follow your plan and follow your purpose."

He listed four thoughts on ways to accomplish this:

• Opportunities will come. He encouraged them not to miss opportunities through fear "that you're not ready, not good enough or you might fail."

• Continue to learn. "I'm a lifelong learner," said Hannaford. "I try to be a better husband, a better friend, a better father." He expressed hope they would not give up on education whether it be college, vo-tech or training on the job.

• Be accountable. "I challenge you not to make excuses for your failures," said Hannaford. "Whatever you do in your life, this is part of your judgment.

Desiree Malicoat

RIGHT: Bill Johnson Correctional Center (BJCC) Warden Becky Guffy presents Greg Lyon with a personalized clock as he leaves BJCC. Lyon has orchestrated 20 different GED graduations in his six years with the prison. LEFT: Bo Hannaford, vice-president for academic affairs at Northwestern Oklahoma State University, was the speaker for the GED graduation at Bill Johnson Correctional Center Friday morning.

"I hope that you will be a person that someday everybody can look up to and know that you hold yourselves to the highest standard, you try to do your very best, and when you do fail, when you make a mistake, you try to fix things."

• Have faith. "Have faith in yourself, faith in your family and friends that are here," Hannaford said. "Surround yourself with good people. Good people are going to be positive, they're going to hold you accountable."

He quoted John F. Kennedy, "Effort and courage are not enough without purpose and direction."

Hannaford said in closing, "I hope that you guys can be courageous, take advantage of your opportunities that come in your future, continue to learn, hold yourselves accountable, have faith and find your purpose."

Jack Bowers, senior principal for the state Department of Corrections, spoke briefly. "Your past is in your past. The present is right now. You guys have obtained a diploma that will open doors for you that you don't yet realize. Your future is yet to be written."

As their names were called, the graduates shook hands with Warden Guffy, Lyon and Bowers before accepting a diploma from Hannaford.

A reception for graduates and those attending followed the ceremony.


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