Friends and family gathered last month at The Catholic University of America to celebrate the achievements and accolades of the Kennedy School’s Class of 2023 graduates.
“Graduates, know that while you have reached this milestone today of high school graduation, please note that you have left your mark on the Kennedy School and will forever be a member of the Kennedy School family,” Principal Dr. Cheryll James proudly told the group at the June 14 ceremony. “As I look at this graduating class, I, the Kennedy Staff, your families and friends, and Catholic Charities representatives are so proud of you. Now go forth and continue to blaze a trail.”
The Kennedy School is a nonpublic day school for children ages six to 22 who have disabilities. Located in Northeast D.C., the school serves students with autism, intellectual and emotional disabilities, learning disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. Students are supported through behavioral and social emotional counseling, academic intervention, internships that focus on employment and vocational skills, and physical education.
Graduation speakers also included Matthew Putu, executive director of Catholic Charities’ Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) and Kennedy School Vice Principal Marcus Johnson, along with words of encouragement from Sequaya Tasker, former DDS executive director.
Three students graduated with a high school diploma, and three students graduated with certifications of completion. All six students were recognized with accolades such as honor awards for academic achievement, most improved, classroom leader, and valedictorian and salutatorian recognition.
What does the future hold for the graduates? Many are continuing their education by earning certifications in construction, plumbing and building maintenance through the United People’s Opportunity program. Another student will attend the University of the District of Columbia’s workplace program to earn a certificate to become a pharmaceutical technician.
And if the journey to their goal becomes difficult or they don’t believe they will reach their dreams? Tasker had a few words for them to remember: “Surround yourself with positive, nourishing and uplifting people. People who believe in you, encourage you to go after your dream, applaud your victories and pick you up when you fall, and, most importantly, will remind you to just keep swimming.”
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