Students graduate from Job Development Center

May 26, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - To his mother and sister, Randy Crawford's graduation is nothing short of amazing.

At 18, Randy is the baby in a family of eight children, his sister, Christina Crawford, said.

"But, he is the only boy who graduated. We waited for this day," Christina, 25, said. "And, my dad has cancer. We just hoped he'd live long enough to see this, and he did."

About 100 parents and friends applauded as Marshall Street teachers and staff honored Randy and other students for being determined workers and honorable young people during a ceremony that lasted more than an hour. Fifteen students, including three who were not able to make the ceremony at Hagerstown Community College's Kepler Theater, earned certificates of attendance, school psychologist Paul Wolverton said.

Superintendent Elizabeth Morgan called the occasion "marvelous."

"It's marvelous because all students deserve a world-class education. All students, not just the very smart, not just the privileged, but all students. That is the essence of public education," she said.


According to Principal Francis Murray, students at the Job Development Center are eligible to earn certificates of attendance once they have logged at least four years of school beyond eighth grade and 75 hours of student-service learning hours.

Because the students have learning disabilities, they are not able to earn diplomas indicating that they have met all of the state's requirements, Murray said Thursday afternoon.

Since being stricken with polio as a youngster, former Hagerstown City Councilman N. Linn Hendershot said he often heard people say he would not be able to do things, such as drive or attend a university.

His response?

"Baloney," he said. Speaking in a sometimes raspy voice from his wheelchair on the Kepler Theater stage, Hendershot recalled one of his father's sayings:

"Everyone knows that 'can't' died on a cornfield. My dad always told me so. And, he's right," Hendershot told students.

For family members of graduates, the achievement was a source of pride.

Using a Class of 2006 T-shirt as a prompt, Christina coached her brother to repeat a phrase he has grown to use a lot in the past few weeks.

"I'm outta here," they said together.

"We've pushed him all the way," Lorinda Crawford said of her son. "Otherwise, he would have never walked, never fed himself, never done anything."

After graduation from the Washington County Job Development Center, Randy sat poker-faced in a wheelchair as camera-wielding relatives and friends tried to coax him to smile. As one of 12 students who collected certificates of attendance Thursday, Randy overcame hardships on the way to graduating, his family said.

"But, he's gone places," his mother said.

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