Howard Center Schools and Programs Host Celebrations

Burlington, VT— Five Howard Center programs are marking the end of the academic year with celebrations and graduation ceremonies. The Jean Garvin, Fay Honey Knopp and Baird Schools, along with the SUCCEED and Project SEARCH programs, are planning unique celebrations to thank their students, educators and families for their commitment and dedication through another successful year.

Project SEARCH hosted a completion ceremony for five students on June 8 at the South Burlington High School auditorium. Project SEARCH is a one-year internship program for young adults with disabilities in their final year of high school. Focused on students whose goal is competitive employment, the program is a collaboration between community partners including Howard Center, the Vermont Agency of Education, the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, South Burlington Schools, and the University of Vermont Medical Center. The program gives young adults with disabilities the opportunity to learn marketable skills in an inclusive work setting.

SUCCEED is a post-secondary education and independent living program for students with intellectual disabilities or autism who participate in a college experience that prepares them for future success. While enrolled in the program, students receive support from SUCCEED staff and feedback from their peers, professors, and employers. Students graduate with skills needed to live independently, develop meaningful friendships, obtain fulfilling employment, and establish community connections. SUCCEED will host a celebration for three graduates on July 28 at All Souls Interfaith Gathering in Shelburne (time TBD).

The Jean Garvin School, which moved to larger new quarters in Williston earlier this year, is celebrating the accomplishments of 27 students at this year’s Transition Ceremony. Additionally, the event will recognize students who exemplify success through mastery, generosity, belonging and independence. Jean Garvin School provides a therapeutic, educational program offering unique learning opportunities to inspire personal change and well-being for adolescents, ages 12-18 years, grades 7-12.

The Baird School held a Student Recognition Ceremony in the McClure Gymnasium in Burlington on June 10 for all students and celebrated four graduating eighth grade students. The ceremony is always a greatly anticipated event that brings together students, teachers, and families. Baird School provides an alternative educational environment for children ages 5-14 and grades K-8 where professional educators, clinicians and support staff assist students in developing skills and strategies to help them function successfully at school, home, and in their communities.

“As this academic year ends, we thank our educators, staff, and families for working together for the success of our students,” said Catherine Simonson, LICSW, Chief Client Services Officer at Howard Center. “While it’s been a challenging year, we are so proud of our students as they transition to the next phase in their lives.”

The Fay Honey Knopp School, an alternative residential school in Rutland for students in grades 7-12, celebrated the end of the school year and the graduation of two eighth grade students with an annual BBQ lunch and Pinewood Derby Race, as well as the culmination of a STEM-based science project to uncover the weightbearing capabilities of student-built popsicle stick bridges. Teachers are finalizing plans for a summer program filled with experiential learning opportunities and field trips, and the school community looks forward to welcoming a new Special Educator next year.

“Two years in, our school programs continued to face multiple challenges from the ongoing pandemic. Staff and students displayed remarkable perseverance and resilience,” said Anne Paradiso, Director of School Programs at Howard Center. “While they finish the year with new knowledge and skills, they are particularly looking forward to that much needed summer break.”

Congratulations to all students!

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