The room was decorated with black and gold stars and balloons as each student wearing flowing black gowns and mortarboards anxiously awaiting their diplomas — just like thousands of area high school graduates this time of year.
But these students aren’t like others.
They’ve overcome severe disabilities to earn their high school certificates of completion, and on Thursday they were recognized for their successes at a special ceremony.
Proud family members and jubilant teachers packed the Mather Room at Sacramento County Office of Education’s David P. Meaney Education Center for the touching ceremony for four Galt graduates who received certificates of completion through the program for high school students and young adults with severe disabilities. The students are making the transition to other educational or job-training programs in their local communities.
Galt students Brian Fowler, Guadalupe Garcia, Andrew Lemus and David Smith were accompanied by their teachers Cathy Goodrich and Melanie Lee.
The group, who attended the county special education program at Galt High School, were joined at the ceremony by two other students who attended the program in the Elk Grove Unified School District.
All of the students have received special education and other services from SCOE since they were young children, according to staff.
Special education principal Carmen Walker served as master of ceremonies at Thursday’s event, while certificates of completion were presented by board of education president Greg Geeting.
As part of SCOE’s Special Education Department, the Severely Handicapped Program provides special education services to students throughout Sacramento County with severe disabilities and emotional disturbances, from ages 3 to 22 years. The office of education operates SH programs at more than 25 sites and schools located in eight school districts throughout the county.
The Special Education Department provides special day classes for students with severe challenges or with emotional disturbances. Other students served include those with visual impairments, mobility needs, or speech and language disorders.
San Joaquin County operates a similar program; however, Lodi Unified School District is not part of it.
For more information about Sacramento County special education services, call 916-228-2380.
Contact reporter Jennifer Bonnett at firstname.lastname@example.org.