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Graduation: Josh Jones – Henderson graduate finds his passion

By Sarah Nagem
Salisbury Post
Josh Jones loves to watch movies.
As he prepares to attend the Art Institute of Atlanta to study filmmaking, Jones credits the staff at Henderson Independent School with showing him he can make a career out of his passion.
Jones will graduate this week from Henderson. The 18-year-old was expelled from West Rowan High School in the spring of 2007 for having a knife at school. Jones said he had found it and carried it with him.
School officials sent him to Henderson for nine weeks. That was last August.
“I decided I didn’t want to go back” (to West Rowan High), Jones said. “I stayed there the whole semester.”
Jones said he thrived at Henderson. His grades improved. He appreciated the one-on-one attention from teachers.
It’s not that Jones was a terrible student at West. He did what he had to do to get by.
“I slacked off to an extent,” Jones said of his time at West. “I was one of those slackers who could slack off and still get their work done.”
Some things changed for Jones at Henderson. When he started there in August, he took day classes and night classes, which allowed him to finish early. The workload was more intense, but Jones said it was worth it.
“I figured if I can get it done, why stall,” he said.
Realizing he wanted to go to college, Jones went back to Henderson in February for a two-week credit recovery program. The extra assignments boosted his grade point average.
For the past couple of months or so, Jones has been working at Wendy’s on Innes Street. The experience has taught him an important lesson: He doesn’t want to flip burgers for the rest of his life.
So Jones turned his focus to college. His problem was that he had no idea what he wanted to study.
Jones enjoys analyzing the technical aspects of movies. A couple of his favorites are “300” and “The Matrix,” which both feature a lot of special effects.
“Everyone likes movies. I said I want to make them, direct them,” Jones explained.
The staff at Henderson showed Jones there’s a name for his interest. He will study filmmaking and video production at the Art Institute of Atlanta this fall.
Jones credits his newfound direction in life to his teachers.
“I don’t think I would have found my major without Henderson,” he said.
To help pay for college, Jones said, he applied for more than 25 scholarships. He’s still waiting to hear back.
Jones said he will also take out student loans. The money he’s earning from Wendy’s will help too, he said, but his mother doesn’t want him to have a part-time job in Atlanta.
Ameisa Jones, Josh’s 16-year-old sister and a junior at West, said she’s sad to see her brother go. But she’s proud “that he overcame all that stuff and is doing something better ó doing something with his life.”
Being a high school student in North Carolina was a big transition for Jones. He and his family moved to Rowan County from Yonkers, N.Y., five years ago.
When he got here, he wasn’t thrilled about the slower pace of the South.
But now, Jones said, he thinks North Carolina is a nice place to live. That’s not to say he wouldn’t mind going back to New York ó especially for a film career.
Jones said a teacher at Henderson hooked him up with a possible internship at a local film production company. He’s not sure where that could lead him in the future.
But Jones knows that Henderson helped him find his path.
“I don’t really consider Henderson a punishment,” he said. “I consider it a blessing in disguise.
“It was there I found my college, what I want to do in life. I took my SATs there. … It was more than I expected.”

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