The moment, as Courtney Cross put on her cap and gown, was bittersweet.
She was excited to graduate from the Anderson Center of Autism’s education program, but finishing also meant moving on.
Yet after the ceremony, surrounded by family and loved ones, that doubt melted away.
“I’m so proud of myself and what I accomplished,” she said.
Eleven students graduated during the Anderson Center for Autism’s 95th commencement ceremony Friday afternoon.
The excitement for the ceremony was palpable, with students eager to receive their diplomas.
“Year after year, our graduation ceremony is a heartwarming experience for everyone involved,” said Patrick Paul, CEO and executive director at Anderson Center for Autism. “It is an exciting moment in time for each of them, and of course it is also a very special day for their families and staff, who have provided unwavering support and encouragement every step of the way.”
This year’s celebration was particularly unique, as it marks the first time graduates decorated their caps. Their individual interests were highlighted on each cap, with scrabble pieces on one and characters from “Aladdin” on another.
Andrew Dease, principal at the Anderson Center, said the ceremony served as payoff for everyone’s hard work.
“Many of the parents, after first getting the diagnosis for their children, probably couldn’t have even imagined this day would come,” he said. “And when it does, the emotion we see is incredible.”