Graduation Day at Archbishop Damiano School

Graduation Day at Archbishop Damiano School

Photo by Alan M. Dumoff,

graduation1-webDeric Rodriguez gets a hug from his aunt, Anita Colon, after graduating from Archbishop Damiano School, Westville Grove, on Tuesday, June 12. This year 13 students graduated from the school, which provides special education services to students in various school districts.

“Hello. My name is Deric Rodriguez. Six years ago I was in a serious car accident.”

Deric was one of 13 graduates of Archbishop Damiano School, Westville Grove, this year. All have multiple disabilities.

Deric continued his commencement speech June 12 by saying his injuries left him unable to walk or talk, and affected his memory.

Archbishop Damiano School is a non-sectarian, non-profit agency approved by the New Jersey Department of Education to provide special education services to students from various school districts.

“Like many of my friends here at ADS, I had to work hard in my therapy sessions to achieve my goals,” he told the 200 staff and family members who had come to the school gym to celebrate the occasion with the graduates.

Deric made a point of mentioning his favorite nurse, Mary, and finished his talk by saying, “As I stand here today with my friends, I know that we are ready to graduate and start a new life.”

graduation2-webMsgr. Roger McGrath, vicar general, Diocese of Camden, gave congratulatory remarks at the graduation ceremony, and Stephen M. Sweeney, New Jersey Senate president, was the guest speaker.

The graduates are Maribeth Contino, Brandon Daniel, Ryan Faris, Anna Halter, Daniel Heggan, Aisha Jackson, Thomas Messner, Stevi Niemann, Jennifer Pinto, Deric Rodriguez, Nicholas Rotz, Mark Tucker and Daniel Wood.

After “Pomp and Circumstance,” they posed for photos with staff, friends and family members.

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