Thirteen Brennen School students walked across the stage at Glasgow High School to receive their diplomas on Thursday, each on their way to a new path in life, from work programs to college.
“Once a Brennen School student, always a Brennen School student,” graduate Jeffrey Browning said.
Students at Brennen matriculate through the Delaware Autism Program.
Principal Heather Calkins encouraged graduates to take what they learned at Brennen and further their education after high school.
“You have earned a rite of passage, overcoming personal challenges, demonstrating a drive to achieve,” said Calkins. “Take what you have gained during your time with us and continue to grow and learn.”
Vocational Specialist Nancy Storch complemented the hard work of Brennen students.
“It’s really exciting to see students ready to move on to the next stage of their life,” Storch said. "This is an awesome celebration of all the hard work they've put in."
Browning also earned a diploma from Christiania High School and will attend the University of Delaware to study computer programming. He first got interested in programming through the game “Minecraft.”
“This is the end of high school,” Browning said. “I’m going on to a new chapter in my life.”
His father, Jeff Browning, expressed great pride in Jeffrey’s accomplishments. Jeffrey enrolled in Brennen as a toddler, and Jeff said that early intervention made an important positive difference in his son's life.
“He’s very tenacious with his studies,” Jeff said. “He’s going to be a lot smarter than his father.”
Graduate Sterling Johnson was described as a kind man by Calkins. He enjoys drawing, bridges and spending time with his family. He currently volunteers for Special Olympics and is working with ServiceSource to obtain part time supported employment.
Sterlings’ mother, Mariah Johnson, said her son would like to work in an office or store. Sterling participated in a variety of sports through Special Olympics, such as powerlifting, track and field and soccer.
“He’s changed my life, and for that, I’m so grateful,” Mariah said.
Graduate Alex Jeffers first enrolled as a toddler at Brennen. Calkins said everyone who met Jeffers will tell a story about him with a smile on their face because of his charm. Jeffers will take part in the Abundant Life day habilitation program before moving to a work program.
“There’s been ups and downs, but he’s a great kid,” his father Chris Jeffers said. “He really worked hard.”