After a challenging year of isolated online learning, Kach Program graduates from the Class of 2020 gathered with the Class of 2021 under one roof for a joint graduation ceremony to honor their academic milestone.
The extraordinary conditions they had to overcome to complete the Kach Program during the COVID-19 pandemic just made the graduation ceremony even more joyful and unforgettable!
Some students were meeting for the first time since March 2020.
How The Arc of Monmouth’s Kach Program Provides Academic Opportunities for Those with I/DD
Students graduating from the Kach Program (the Keep Achieving Program at Brookdale Community College) marked the occasion at the on-campus Monmouth Museum on May 19.
The 3-year program provides students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) classroom and experiential learning on campus and in the community.
The joint program of The Arc of Monmouth and Brookdale Community College begins with classes designed to strengthen students’ basic academic skills. In the second and third years, students move on to audit regular college courses. Students become fully integrated into the Brookdale community by not only taking part in classes but also exercising at the fitness center, doing volunteer work on the campus, and more.
The program encourages students to...
- Develop a life-long love for learning
- Gain marketable employment skills
- Improve social awareness
Gathering Together for the Graduation Ceremony
Proud family and friends were able to sit in the Monmouth Museum main gallery together and cheer as the 12 graduates, dressed in gray and blue robes and caps with yellow tassels, went up one by one to receive their Certificates of Achievement. One student received their certificate via Zoom.
Ed Johnson, Executive Director of Governmental and Community Relations at Brookdale Community College, congratulated each one on behalf of Brookdale as he presented the Certificates of Achievement.
For many parents, seeing their child wearing a cap and gown and collecting their certificate at the graduation ceremony was an incredible and unforgettable experience.
Others were just thrilled to be able to witness the celebration of their child’s achievement in person. Parents of the Class of 2020 had to wait a whole year to see their children graduate because of COVID-19 restrictions.
Receiving Praise for Hard Work and Resilience
At the start of the ceremony, Kach Coordinator Alyssa Piantanida gave a brief introduction before Bob Angel, Executive Director of The Arc of Monmouth, congratulated the graduates— praising their hard work and resilience during these uncertain times.
The Arc of Monmouth Board Chair Lauren Zalepka also shared some thoughtful words of wisdom with the graduates as they embark on their next steps.
Encouraging Students to Chase Their Dreams
After The Arc of Monmouth and Brookdale Community College officials spoke, it was the students’ turn. Kach Program graduates Alaina Lardaro and Brandon Osis addressed their classmates, encouraging them to chase their dreams and reminding them that this is not the end of their story.
“If there’s a dream in your heart, don’t ignore it! That’s the easiest thing to do. You will live your life full of regret, for not making your dreams come true,” Alaina remarked and encouraged her fellow graduates.
They also reminded their classmates that the power of the dream would overcome any fears and doubts they might have had at the start of their educational journey.
Brandon Osis took the mic to sing a heartfelt rendition of Green Day's “Time Of Your Life.” The poignant song captures the uncertainty of moving on from something you cherish and celebrates the promise that comes with new beginnings.
It was the perfect way to end the graduation ceremony.
Promising Friendships That Will Last a Lifetime
On leaving the ceremony, an ice cream truck greeted the Kach Program graduates and their families outside for a celebratory ice cream social.
Brought together by their shared love of learning but separated by different paths moving forward, the graduates promised to stay in touch. They started by making plans to get together over the summer. These graduates know they will always be connected through Kach and the achievements they made during their time in the program.
What to Take Away from the Recent Graduation Ceremony
Although every graduation ceremony marks the achievement of students, the recent ceremony for the Kach Program graduates from the Class of 2020 and the Class of 2021 was particularly special. Those who graduated last month had to overcome major obstacles in their quest for higher learning. In addition to being affected by I/DD, these students had to finish out their last year during a pandemic.
It’s a true testament to their resilience and commitment to learning!
However, this isn’t the first graduation ceremony for those who’ve completed the Kach Program, and it won’t be the last.
The Arc of Monmouth will continue to provide community education to improve the lives of individuals with I/DD who want to learn, grow, and chase their dreams.
The Arc of Monmouth’s Kach Program in partnership with Brookdale Community College helps students...
- Achieve greater independence
- Gain academic experience and achievement
- Develop marketable employment skills
- Improve social integration
However, this program—and other life-changing services offered by The Arc of Monmouth—wouldn’t be possible without the help of our generous donors and volunteers.
It’s your contribution that allows us to give students the opportunity for higher education.
Further, it’s your contribution that allows us to provide...
- Residential and independent living options
- Health care
- Advocacy support
- Community support
- Recreational options
- Day programs
- And much more!
The heroic support of people like you can really transform lives. To support our efforts, click here and donate to The Arc of Monmouth today!