On June 12, Archbishop Damiano School in Westville Grove held commencement exercises for 10 graduating students in its multi-disabled program.
Archbishop Damiano is a state approved, private special education day school serving students with moderate to severe cognitive disabilities ages 3-21.
Brother Thomas Osorio, prior of the Hospitaller Order of St. John of God, delivered a speech during the ceremony and called attention to each student’s gifts, such as a bright smile or twinkling eyes.
Three of the graduates gave brief speeches, two of them using IPad technology to communicate. “I am happy and proud to be a graduate,” said Blackwell Albertson, summing up his feelings and those of his nine classmates.
There was also a slide show presentation, which featured photographs of each graduate that spanned their lives from when they were just babies up until graduation at age 21.
All 10 graduating students received diplomas from their sending districts, an attendance certificate and the President’s Award from Barack Obama, who recognized the graduates for their significant academic achievements.
Principal Kate Flynn said that after graduation, some of the students will stay at the school for vocational rehabilitation.
“On behalf of the entire staff at Archbishop Damiano, our students are a blessing in our lives,” she said. “They give us the opportunity to provide, serve and educate them each and every day in the spirit of hospitality with compassion, dignity and respect. We receive more gifts from our students than we give to them.”
The graduates are Blackwell Albertson, Henry Beigie, Wescott Brown, Charles Coar, Matthew Cooke, Nicole Diolle, Kelsey Emmerling, Samantha Mewhorter, Christopher Potts and Meghan Ranalli.