Chamber Chat - Educational Opportunities

Aug 12

By Meg Moss


This past Monday, the Sanford Area Growth Alliance – Chamber of Commerce held its monthly Public Policy Luncheon at the Flame Restaurant. Over fifty elected officials, leadership from the City, County, and Community College, as well as business owners, managers and non-profit leaders gathered to hear Dr. Andy Bryan, Lee County Schools Superintendent. Utilizing this opportunity to share the educational opportunities in Lee County Schools, Dr. Bryan stepped out of the box of a traditional presentation. He instead had us hear directly from three pretty amazing students who participated in different opportunities that our school system offers.

First, there was Neil Bullard, a recent graduate from Southern Lee High School, were he was an active participant in the Academy of Hospitality and Tourism. He was involved in several leadership roles with the Academy, as well as in Southern Lee’s DECA Chapter and the Student Government Association. Neil shared with us that the Academy was “not an easy A” as he had hoped. Instead, throughout the four years of honors courses, Bullard was exposed to a multitude of experiences ranging from developing and running events, participating in community service, and presenting final projects to local business leaders. Bullard and the other Academy students were heavily engaged in industry specific curriculum that engaged in customer service, event planning, sustainable tourism, finance, and honing public speaking skills. In the fall, Bullard will attend East Carolina University, where he will major in management, with a concentration in entrepreneurship and Business Management.

Then, we heard from Austin Johns, a recent graduate of Lee Early College (LEC). Johns is the second of his three siblings to graduate from LEC; his younger sister is a currently a Junior. Through LEC, students are able, in four years or sometimes even less, to earn both their high school diploma as well as an Associates Degree. And Johns did just that. He described LEC as a family - a smaller, more intimate atmosphere where he was immediately made to feel comfortable and confident. Through small class sizes, he was able to form lasting friendships with other students, and mentor-type relationships with teachers. Because of this experience, Johns received a UNC-Pembroke Promise scholarship, where he will attend this fall. LEC proves to be one of the many good educational opportunities in Lee County. It is a competitive process to enroll in LEC.

And lastly, we heard from Brandon Ramirez, a rising Senior at Lee County High School. He is enrolled in the Academy of Engineering. He is also active in the National Technical Honors Society. Within the community, Brandon is an active member of the Sanford City Youth Council, where he works with other high school students to discuss issues facing our community. Ramirez’s most notable affiliation though, is with SkillsUSA, a Career and Technical Student Organization focused on giving our youth the technical skills and knowledge necessary to succeed in the workforce. Ramirez now holds the title of National SkillsUSA President. Yes, that’s right, the National President from right here in Lee County. He presides over a membership if almost 5,000 students. The Lee County High School SkillsUSA chapter has had an incredibly successful few years, winning multiple state competitions, and electing various regional and state officers.

These three students’ presentations were great examples of the diverse educational opportunities available in the Lee County School system. I’m glad Dr. Bryan thought outside the box for this presentation, and I got a lot of great feedback from those in attendance. The students each spoke with confidence and maturity. It gave us all a sense of pride in our three high schools, and school system as a whole. Neil, Austin and Brandon are just three examples of excellent students right here in Lee County.

View all Chamber Blog entries
Comment on this article
map View All Maps



Feb 20 - A Sweet Opportunity: Frozen yogurt gets second chance in Sanford

When Sanford's only frozen yogurt shop closed this past summer, young business owner Carlos Carvajal inquired about the inquired about…

Feb 06 - Community members honored at Chamber Banquet

The Sanford Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual membership banquet Tuesday at the Dennis A. Wicker Civic Center. *Article…

View All News

In my current role as CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs, it is very important for..." read more

Daniel Simmons
CEO for the Boys and Girls Club of Sanford/Lee County

© Copyright 2019. All rights reserved.