NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A commencement ceremony was held on Saturday for 157 graduates of The Apprentice School at Newport News Shipbuilding.
Each of the graduates rang the ceremonial bell to mark the completion of their apprenticeship at Liberty Baptist Church Worship Center in Hampton.
Jill Biden, the Second Lady of the United States from 2009 to 2017, delivered the commencement address.
“You are starting a new journey, one where you are a part of a family with a hundred years of historic accomplishments, one that will continue to shape America’s future,” Biden said. “While there will be times where you face challenges, you should never forget that your work is needed and revered by so many.”
The school’s class of 2018 had a variety of notable graduates, according to Huntington Ingalls Industries.
Kevin McNeill of Greensboro, N.C., received the Homer L. Ferguson Award, which recognizes the apprentice graduating with the highest honors. He is the first African-American student in the school’s history to earn the special recognition.
In total, 94 of the graduates earned honors, 88 completed an optional, advanced program, 30 completed with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, 23 graduates are women and 14 are military veterans.
The apprentice school accepts about 225 apprentices per year. The school is celebrating is centennial anniversary and, over the last 100 years, it has produced over 10,800 graduates.