“Have fun. Don’t take life for granted.”

By Randy Tatano

It isn’t every day that a United States Senator and members of the House of Representatives meet with an East Brewton teenager, but that’s exactly what happened when one of W.S. Neal High School’s students was honored with a trip to Washington, DC.

Garrett Weaver, a senior at W.S. Neal High School, is the State of Alabama’s High School Reporter for SkillsUSA, a partnership of students, teachers, and industry leaders designed to promote vocational careers. He’s currently studying for a career in industrial maintenance under a dual enrollment at Reid State while also holding down a job after school.

As part of Skills USA’s national conference, Weaver was part of a delegation meeting with Senator Tommy Tuberville, along with Congressmen Jerry Carl and Mo Brooks, to discuss vocational opportunities and funding for career and technical education programs. The group also received instruction on personal and professional workplace skills needed for communication and leadership.

“We learned about having a good work ethic, responsibility, and how to speak appropriately,” Weaver said.

The group received an especially warm welcome from Congressman Carl, who told them, “Go into life as you want, make it your own.” 

Weaver ended up with Skills USA by pure chance. He enjoyed riding motorcycles and originally wanted to be a mechanic, but the auto class was full, so he found himself taking industrial maintenance. Turned out he liked that even more. When he’s done with his education, he’d like to work in the oil fields and travel a lot.

Washington was the farthest Weaver had been from home, and the trip marked his first time on a plane. The six-day trip also included stops at the Smithsonian and Lincoln Memorial. Weaver also witnessed the Changing of the Guards at Arlington National Cemetery.

Weaver’s mother, Sherri, is very proud that her son is the recipient of a scholarship at Reid State. Her rule of “don’t come home from school with anything below a C” also paid dividends for daughter Valerie, a valedictorian at Neal, now maintaining a 4.0 average at Auburn with a goal of becoming a college history professor.

Weaver’s only regret about the trip was that he just missed meeting Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

“He had just left his office to vote,” Weaver remembered.

When asked about the most important thing he learned, Weaver said, “Have fun. Don’t take life for granted.”