The Charles County Public Schools Adult Independence Program (AIP) held its 14th annual graduation ceremony on Friday, May 17 at North Point High School. The Class of 2013 featured 19 graduates, which is one of the program’s largest graduating classes to date.

Graduate Jalen Rose served as the student commencement speaker, and shared her experiences with the program among attendees. Rose said the skills she learned and experiences she had through the AIP program helped her reach an important goal: to work with children. Rose was able to attain child care certification from the College of Southern Maryland, and now works with infants and toddlers at Lakeside Child Care Center.

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 student’s ages 18 to 21, students acquire adult skills and apply them to community environments.

Board of Education Chairman Roberta S. Wise also 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. For example, Graduate Brittany Johnson completed a work-based experience at the Charlotte Hall Veterans Home and was later hired in the cafeteria to work as a dietary aid.

Dewayne Hodo entered the AIP program with a set goal in mind: working in building services. At the start of this school year, his goal became a reality when he was hired as a member of the Westlake High School building services team. He has maintained his position for the past six months and successfully accesses the Van-Go service to and from work daily.

Most of the other graduates are successfully employed at places such as the Waldorf Senior Center and the Charles County Department of Health. Those who are not currently employed are seeking jobs in areas they enjoy, such as public and community service.

Joining Rose and Hodo, and accepting diplomas, were Toby Allen, Wendy Blakeman, Tiarra Dansby, Drew Dent, Rashawn DePamphilis, Ronald “RJ” Dickerson, Quinton Dillard, Samantha Donegan, Devonta Dorsey, DeMarcus Dyson, Marsha Forbes, Randy Hagens, Justin Harris, Jamaal Ishmael, Amber Jenkins, Brittany Johnson and Malek Stover.