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Job Development Center graduates 13

June 05, 2004|By LAURA ERNDE

HAGERSTOWN

Joshua Lee Bond holds up two fingers as if making a peace sign. Then he crooks them to look like rabbit ears.

Wearing a blue cap and gown on stage at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater, Bond smiles and flashes his trademark happy sign at the audience.

Several hundred parents and teachers came to watch Bond and a dozen classmates at Washington County Job Development Center receive their graduation certificates Friday.

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It was the final class to graduate from the Smithsburg-area center.

The center's programs, which help prepare teenagers with disabilities for work and independent living, are being moved to Marshall Street School in Hagerstown, which already serves younger students with disabilities.

Each student received special attention at the graduation ceremony.

The audience learned, for example, that Bond enjoys fishing and gardening and is working at a greenhouse.

Katharine "Kate" Bowen learned to set up the school's salad bar and identify what's missing. She likes to watch movies, draw and listen to music.

Teacher LuBeth Reeve said Bond, with his rabbit sign, always brightened up her day.

"We are really going to miss him," she said.

Students come to the program as early as age 15 and receive their certificates at age 21.

Nancy Hoffman was one of several students who spoke at the ceremony.

She thanked her bus drivers for "the smiles in the morning," and her teachers for "helping me to come out of my shell."

Hoffman said she wants to find a job at a restaurant and have her own apartment.

"I am ready for my next big adventure," she said.

School Board member Russell Williams, whose daughter graduated from the center and now works as a restaurant dishwasher, told the students they were the most important people in the room.

He apologized for turning his back to the audience so he could address the students.

"For the rest of your life you can say, 'I have finished high school,'" he said.

School Secretary Lois Richards said she will miss working with the special education students. Because the school is closing, she will be assigned to a new school in the fall.

"It's got a special place in my heart. I love these kids," she said.

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