The Charles County Public Schools Adult Independence Program (AIP) held its 15th annual graduation ceremony on Friday, May 16 at North Point High School. The Class of 2014 featured four graduates: Michael Clark, Ashley Jenkins, Britney McQueen and Fakiha Tariq.
Graduate Michael Clark served as the student commencement speaker, and shared his experiences with the program among attendees. Clark mentioned that when he first began the AIP, he was nervous to start. After his time in the program, Clark said that he has learned the skills and abilities to be independent.
Students in the program are trained to search for employment and to complete job applications, as well as how to access the public transportation system. The Adult Independence Program also provides students with community learning experiences that parallel experiences of independent adults. Throughout the duration of the program, which is designed for students ages 18 to 21, students acquire adult skills and apply them to community environments.
Board of Education Chairman Roberta S. Wise spoke to the graduating class, and shared information about each of the graduates with guests in attendance. Each personal story highlighted an important component of the program: that students leave with the essential skills to be successful in the world. “Rarely do we walk away from this ceremony with dry eyes,” Wise said.
Special education teacher Capri Tenis presented the graduates with a special gift. Every year, President Barack Obama sends select schools graduation letters. Each student was presented with a letter from the president. In the letter, Obama commended the students for their hard work and wished them the best in their future endeavors. “The optimism and empathy, dogged determination and remarkable selflessness of today’s graduates inspire me,” Obama wrote in the letter.
Muhammad Masood, brother of graduate Fakiha Tariq, said that his family enrolled Fakiha in the program to make her independent. “She has developed great social skills in AIP. Fakiha has truly blossomed because of this program,” Masood said after the ceremony.
Participating employers in the 2013-14 program include Burlington Coat Factory, Captain John’s Crabhouse, Charlotte Hall Veterans Home, Cold Stone Creamery, Giant, Hampton Inn, Home Goods, Ledo Pizza, Modell’s Sporting Goods, St. Peter’s School and Sweet Frog Yogurt. The program was launched in 1999 and has assisted more than 200 students in transitioning into work and community environments.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 35 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX Coordinator and Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela Murphy, Section 504 Coordinator (employees/adults), at Charles County Public Schools, central office building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, Maryland 20646. 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.
Superintendent Kimberly Hill, left, congratulates Adult Independence Program (AIP) graduate Fakiha Tariq, right, on her accomplishments. The AIP program serves as a bridge for students ages 18-21 from school to employment, ensuring a seamless transition into adulthood.