Students, families and staff gathered June 5 to celebrate the Spring Lake Park Schools’ Life Skills Transitions students’ graduation.
Superintendent Jeff Ronneberg, School Board member Amy Hennen, Nichole Fetrow and Melissa Lindstrom presented diplomas to Ehis Ejiya, Abigale Gigley, Donnie Maxberry, Hailey Miland and Anthony Vos. Deana Troha graduated but could not attend due to a conflict in her work schedule.
The mission of the Life Skills Transition Program is to connect 18- to 21-year-olds, with disabilities and their families to community resources, empowering them and strengthening their advocacy skills in order to navigate their life plan. The program helps students transition from a school setting to adulthood with the focus areas of instruction being employment and training, recreation and leisure, community participation and independent living skills.
The program works with local businesses to set students up with jobs to learn employment skills. At the June 5 reception, Life Skills teachers Nichole Fetrow and Melissa Lindstrom presented students with certifications for their accomplishments and growth in their employment skills this school year.
Throughout the 2018-2019 school year, students were employed and volunteered at Global Health, Hope for the Community, PublicIndoor Tennis Dome, Substance Church, Walmart and the YMCA.
Students also worked at several programs throughout Spring Lake Park Schools, including at the Spring Lake Park High School cafeteria, grounds and maintenance, Panther Pantry and weekend food packs. At the District Services Center, students continued the Coffee Express and served coffee, tea, smoothies and breakfast sandwiches to staff. Every morning they prepared coffee and pushed the coffee cart around the center’s hallways, greeting staff and serving coffee.
“Our Transitions program is a true example of knowing each student by name, strength, interest and need,” said Hope Rahn, director of learning and innovation. “The staff know each student deeply and are able to help them learn the skills necessary to be successful and pair them with jobs that complement their skills.”
The Transitions program also focuses on recreation and leisure and community participation.
Throughout the year, students visited the Blaine Soccer Club where a coach led them through drills and games. On Fridays, students participated in community activities, such as learning how to use the Metro Transit, going through TSA at the airport and ordering and paying at restaurants.
Through the help of the Transitions program, three students earned their driver’s permits this year. Student Zachary Hopping received a Medtronic Project SEARCH Internship, where he will get to experience three types of internships throughout next school year.
Compiled by Paige Kieffer