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AAFES Main Exchange staff honors student employees with graduation recognition ceremony

Melanie White, AAFES general manager, and seven student employees pose for a group photo with their recognition certificates.

The AAFES Main Exchange at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, celebrates the graduation of seven local high school student employees June 15, 2020, for their hard work, dedication and commitment to stay the course during COVID-19. Appearing left to right: Lance Redolosa, Clearfield High School, Gavin Beard, Northridge High School, Melanie White, AAFES general manager, Damien Dodson-Essex, Northridge High School, Jonathan Ceglar, Northridge High School, Kaitlyn Thompson, Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering and Science, and Kimberly Tinio, Clearfield High School. Not pictured, Annabelle Kelley, Northridge High School. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

Melony White, AAFES general manager, addresses students, employees, families and friends inside the AAFES Main Exchange at the store entrance.

Melony White, AAFES general manager, addresses students, employees, families and friends during a recognition ceremony to celebrate the graduation of seven local high school student employees June 15, 2020, at Hill Air Force Base, Utah. The student employees were honored for their hard work, dedication and commitment to stay the course during COVID-19. (U.S. Air Force photo by Todd Cromar)

HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- The AAFES Main Exchange at Hill Air Force Base celebrated the graduation of seven local high school student employees June 15 for their hard work, dedication and commitment to stay the course during COVID-19.

Melanie White, AAFES general manager, explained that management and fellow co-workers wanted to do a little something extra to honor the student employees because with virus concerns, recognition at school graduation ceremonies this year was not the same as under normal circumstances.

“Because of COVID-19, we really wanted to reach out and let our graduates know that although we may not fully understand all of the challenges and disappointments they have had, by not being able to walk across the stage and be with their friends, we do want to show them that their Exchange families cares, and acknowledge all that they have accomplished these last few years.” White said. “Some of their peers do not work, while going to school as opposed to these young men and women who balance both, by working hard with studies and working here, serving the best customers in the world.”

Student employees were honored with certificates and gift bags. The graduates:

Lance Redolosa, Clearfield High School, Gavin Beard, Northridge High School, Damien Dodson-Essex, Northridge High School, Jonathan Ceglar, Northridge High School, Kaitlyn Thompson, Northern Utah Academy for Math, Engineering and Science, Kimberly Tinio, Clearfield High School, and Annabelle Kelley, Northridge High School.

Kaitlyn Thompson, a recent graduate, said she appreciated the recognition.

“I have been working here at the Exchange after school each day for two years now. It means a great deal to me that my co-workers and friends here would have this commencement recognition to congratulate us, since we didn’t get a traditional graduation,” Thompson said. “I have been working hard at school and work, and have completed my associates degree and now will hopefully be graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the University of Utah in two more years.”

Lance Redolosa, another graduate, has been working at the Exchange for six months.

“This has been a great experience for me, as they have been very flexible and worked around my school schedule. I am sad that I will be leaving my Exchange family, as I will be attending college at Southern Utah University in Cedar City later this year,” Redolosa said. “I appreciate this ceremony and all that the Exchange does for us, especially with regard to these last couple of months.”