Adult In­de­pen­dence Pro­gram grad­u­ates cel­e­brate achieve­ment

Maryland Independent - - Front Page -

Charles County Pub­lic Schools (CCPS) held its first of­fi­cial grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony of the 2016-17 school year on Fri­day, May 19 as school sys­tem staff and fam­i­lies cel­e­brated eight grad­u­ates of the Adult In­de­pen­dence Pro­gram (AIP).

Hon­ored were Bran­don Garner, Nathaniel Gilchrist, D’Ar­mae Grif­fin, Thomas McKen­zie, Michael Proc­tor, Devonte Smith, Mariah Vi­ray and Den­nis Wee­den, Jr.

At the start of the cer­e­mony, fam­i­lies and guests cheered for the grad­u­ates as they took their seats on the au­di­to­rium stage at North Point High School. Sev­eral “oohs” and “ahhs” joined by ap­plause filled the room as the cer­e­mony be­gan with a pic­ture slideshow de­pict­ing each grad­u­ate’s jour­ney to their com­ple­tion of the AIP pro­gram.

Stu­dents in the pro­gram re­ceive com­mu­nity-based learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ences and on-the-job train­ing to learn about liv­ing suc­cess­fully as an adult. The pro­gram is de­signed for stu­dents ages 18 to 21. When AIP stu­dents grad­u­ate, they leave with em­ploy­ment skills such as com­plet­ing a job ap­pli­ca­tion and ac­cess­ing pub­lic trans­porta­tion to learn­ing how to man­age their fi­nances and com­mu­ni­cate with their peers.

Ann Wal­ter is the co­or­di­na­tor at the Wal­dorf Se­nior Cen­ter and worked with the eight grad­u­ates as part of their pro­gram train­ing. She served as the guest speaker at the grad­u­a­tion cer­e­mony and talked about how the grad­u­ates grew dur­ing the pro­gram, but also taught her sev­eral things.

“You are pa­tient. You look out for one an­other and show pride in your work. You all smile, smile, smile. You have taught me to smile more. You are kind. You are kind to one an­other and taught me that kind­ness goes a long way. Be proud. Ev­ery­one in here is so proud of you,” Wal­ter said.

Wal­ter also de­tailed the pro­gram ex­pe­ri­ence of each grad­u­ate and high­lighted his or her ac­com­plish­ments.

Garner works at Ap­ple Spice Junc­tion in La Plata and is a mem­ber of a lo­cal vol­un­teer res­cue squad. He en­joys play­ing bas­ket­ball with Spe­cial Olympics and will con­tinue work­ing at Ap­ple Spice Junc­tion and with the Arc of South­ern Maryland.

Gilchrist en­joys play­ing bas­ket­ball and is known among his peers as a great singer and dancer. He takes pride in his t-shirt col­lec­tion and re­cently be­came a new un­cle. He is work­ing with Cre­ative Op­tions, a pro­gram that as­sists com­mu­nity mem­bers with dis­abil­i­ties in tran­si­tion­ing into em­ploy­ment and other skill-based train­ing pro­grams.

Grif­fin is known as a gen­tle­man who goes out of his way to be re­spect­ful and cour­te­ous. Wal­ter said his smile lights up a room and that Grif­fin is an ob­ser­vant per­son. A fu­ture goal for Grif­fin is to vol­un­teer with a lo­cal fire de­part­ment. He will con­tinue to work with the Arc of South­ern Maryland.

McKen­zie is known for his will­ing­ness to try new things and for be­ing so­cial among his peers. He en­joys zom­bie movies and loves plants and be­ing in na­ture. He will con­tinue to work with the Arc of South­ern Maryland to fo­cus on job train­ing.

Proc­tor is known for his bas­ket­ball skills and for be­ing a gen­tle­man. He en­joys work­ing with his hands and likes to stock shelves and be so­cial. Proc­tor will also con­tinue his job train­ing with Cre­ative Op­tions.

Smith has worked at T.J. Maxx re­tail store for the past four years and plans to con­tinue his em­ploy­ment there. His ini­tial goal for his AIP ex­pe­ri­ence was to learn how to be more in­de­pen­dent.

Vi­ray loves to work with her hands on draw­ings and col­or­ing projects. She en­joys danc­ing and plans to work in re­tail to ex­plore her love of fash­ion. She will also con­tinue work­ing with Cre­ative Op­tions.

Wee­den loves music and read­ing. He also likes work­ing on com­put­ers and so­cial­iz­ing with his peers. He will con­tinue job train­ing with the Arc of South­ern Maryland.

Christina Sprague is an in­struc­tional spe­cial­ist with CCPS and works with stu­dents in the AIP daily. In clos­ing the cer­e­mony, she told the grad­u­ates she was thank­ful to know each of them and told them to be proud of their hard work.

“It has been amaz­ing to work with you all. You al­ways, al­ways teach me some­thing new and I am so proud of your ac­com­plish­ments,” Sprague said.

This year’s AIP com­mu­nity part­ners and em­ploy­ers in­clude Ap­ple Spice Junc­tion, Arc of South­ern Maryland, Bay Com­mu­nity Sup­port Ser­vices, Big Lots, Cap­i­tal Club­house, Char­lotte Hall Vet­er­ans Home, Charles County De­part­ment of Com­mu­nity Ser­vices, Col­lege of South­ern Maryland, Court­yard Mar­riott, Cre­ative Op­tions, Di­vi­sion of Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Ser­vices, Elite Gym­nas­tics Cen­ter, First Bap­tist Church of St. Charles, Grace Lutheran Church and Ge­n­e­sis Health­care.

SUB­MIT­TED PHOTO

Charles County Pub­lic Schools hon­ored eight stu­dent grad­u­ates of the Adult In­de­pen­dence Pro­gram, known as AIP, in a cer­e­mony held May 19 at North Point High School. The pro­gram pro­vides job and ca­reer train­ing for stu­dents ages 18 to 21. Cel­e­brated in the cer­e­mony on May 19, from left, were Nathaniel Gilchrist, D’Ar­mae Grif­fin, Den­nis Wee­den, Jr., Bran­don Garner, Michael Proc­tor, Mariah Vi­ray, Thomas McKen­zie and Devonte Smith.

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