SPED students set to graduate


LINCOLN COUNTY — At least two high schools in the Lincoln County School District are gearing up to send 12th-grade students in special education out into the world this week, and for some teachers, the experience is an emotional one.

“I love working with these kids,” said Jill Sellers, a special education teacher at Newport High School. “I’m going to miss working with them.”

Among the students graduating from Newport High School’s special education program this year, some plan to go into the school district’s transition program, which teaches students life skills to give them an edge in independent living.

Taft High, Newport High and the other secondary schools across the district teach students in each campus’s special education program a variety of life skills before they even step out into the working world — these include interacting with others, job interviewing skills and self-advocacy skills, among other important things.

“Those are important skills to have when getting a job or going to the doctor,” said Rebecca Freel, special education teacher at Taft High. “We practice a lot of social skills.”

Some of those students already practiced those skills during their time in high school.

“It’s nice that they have that transition,” Sellers said of her students going into the school district’s transition program next year. “They have more time.”

While getting students ready to graduate and move on to the next stage of their lives, many of the district’s special education students themselves are thinking of the next step and what they want to do upon graduation. While some will continue with the district’s transition program, some plan to hold down a job, and still others want to pursue a college education while they figure out what career options are available to them.

“I’m going to go get a job and do college on the side,” said Logan Parker, an NHS senior who also plans on doing the transition program, too. “I’ll go to the college here first and then go to a four-year college. I haven’t decided which one yet.”

With college, careers and the district’s transition program among the many options available to graduates of special education programs across Lincoln County, some students just want to focus, for now, on the excitement of graduation on Saturday and plans with family and friends immediately after.

“I get to have a party at my mom’s house,” said Sofia Kavadas, a senior at Taft High School. “I’m excited that I’m getting a diploma and I have job skills.”

As for job and post-high school education plans, Kavadas said, “Not yet. I’m working on that.”

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