The Carter County Community Partners (CCCP) graduated the fifth class from their Leadership Academy last Wednesday, bringing their total number of graduates to 39 for the program.

The program, which grew out of CCCP members' participation in similar training at the Brushy Fork Annual Institute in how to build and grow a pool of engaged community leaders.

Graduating this year were Angie Allen, with Frontier Housing, Grayson Tourism board member and community volunteer Don Combs, Jessica Holbrook, from Commercial Bank, Amber Kelley, City National Bank, Tiffany Kitchen, Carter Christian Academy, Lillie Shaffer, with S&S Concrete and Blondeshells, Shadow Skaggs, First Light Home Care, and Beccy Yates, Carter Christian Academy.

Allen's graduate level project, Know Before You Go, will provide basic financing curriculum to high school seniors, to help prepare them for handling checking and banking accounts, saving and investing, budgeting, establishing and maintaining credit, and understanding loans.

Combs' project, Grace in Grayson, combines his enthusiasm for supporting both locally owned businesses and local charities. It would put change donation stations in locally owned businesses, as well as create a program to allow folks to round debit and credit card purchases up to the nearest dollar, with the change or difference in charge going to local charitable donations of the business's choice.

Holbrook's project, Friendly Blessing Baskets, would gather a variety of useful seasonal items into a basket for presentation to those in the community who could make use of them.

Kelley's project would involve introducing school children to savings through a "feed the pig" program. It would include elementary level classroom curriculum about banking and savings along with piggy banks that could be turned in to establish a savings account and other items designed to attract and hold the attention of young children.

Kitchen and Yates worked together on a preschool summer camp program. They noted that their preschool program at Carter Christian Academy has grown tremendously, but that the need for programs that could assist working parents with child care and activities didn't end with the school year. Nor did the opportunities to engage young children and prepare them for beginning school. Their program, when active, would help fill 11 weeks of the summer with learning opportunities for children while also providing parents with reliable child care between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Finally, Shadow Skaggs discussed the former practice of Main Street business owners meeting on the street in front of their businesses to connect, fellowship and network, that has fallen by the wayside as businesses, and the way business is done, have changed over the years. Skaggs' project would attempt to reinitiate the communication between businesses first with an online and email project that could be followed up with physical meet and greets after the digital connections had been established.

Both Combs and Kelley were also given special recognition for completing 100 percent of the training hours offered, with Skaggs good-naturedly lamenting his lack of a 100 percent sticker for missing "only two hours" of the training.