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Chestatee students recognized for certifications
State School Superintendent John Barge congratulates more than 100 students at Chestatee High as they earn their certification credentials in the Microsoft IT Academy program.

Chestatee High School senior Dennis Head already has a clear plan for the next eight years of his life.

“My initial goal was to go to college first, and then come out and go into the Marine Corps,” Head said. “I’m getting my college education knocked out, and the second reason why is you’re going into the military (at) higher rank.”

He said he hopes being certified in Microsoft PowerPoint will help with his career goal of working with computers.

“I’ve applied at the University of North Georgia, and I was going to later transfer to the University of Georgia for my computer science and business classes,” he said. “After I serve my four to eight years (in the military), I can come out and there’s going to be a high demand for people who can use computers.”

Head was joined by more than 100 of his classmates Wednesday to be honored for getting certified in a variety of Microsoft Office programs, including PowerPoint, Excel, Outlook and Word.

“These classes that you’re taking and this certification that you’ve taken, it’s extremely important,” Chestatee Principal Suzanne Jarrard said. “These are real-world skills that you’re going to use in every aspect of your life.”

With Chestatee being one of the top-performing high schools in the state, Georgia School Superintendent and former Chestatee Principal John Barge visited the students to congratulate them on their accomplishments.

He said a recent search on a job-posting website yielded more than 9,000 jobs that required skills and certifications in Microsoft products.

“In this day and time, you all need every advantage that you can get to compete for the positions in the top schools, to compete for the scholarships and to compete for the jobs that are out there,” Barge said. “Hundreds of resumes that we see are for one job opening, and we don’t interview them all. Typically what we do is we scan those resumes and we look at what you bring to the table. If you have done all that, put the certifications with Microsoft, that’s going to be an advantage for you.”

The certifications are offered through the Microsoft IT Academy, which is designed to help students cross from the K-12 atmosphere into the workforce by providing training in everything from computer basics to high-level programming via online learning, Microsoft course materials and curriculum provided to the instructors.

The Georgia Department of Education began collaborating with Microsoft in 2012 to offer the IT Academy statewide. All high schools have access to the program.

Barge said the goal is to have more than 8,000 certifications issued via the program by the end of this year. Around 100 were distributed at Chestatee on Wednesday.

“Chestatee is one of the top schools in the entire state of Georgia awarding Microsoft certifications,” he said. “You guys are the elite of the elite.”

Certified in Outlook, sophomore Joey Wigley said it’s already been of personal use.

“I’ve actually been asked to help apply those certifications, for instance with my mom who needs help with (Outlook) sometimes,” he said. “I found it pretty easy, but I just had to force myself to do it. It took a lot of commitment and doing daily training.”