Brandon will graduate from STARS this coming Friday, August 2 at 6:30 p.m. with nine of his peers. STARS is a unique reverse-mainstream program meaning its classroom has a 50:50 ratio of children with special needs to typically developing children. Children of all varying abilities work side-by-side at the same tasks, but in an adaptive way to meet individual needs, in an effort to reach educational and developmental milestones. Brandon has cerebral palsy; some of his friends at school are on the autism spectrum, others have developmental delays and speech apraxia and others are typical. Together at a young age they learn to accept one another’s uniqueness, as well as realize their sameness.
Friday night will be an emotional evening for Shannon Hess as she and Brandon say ‘goodbye’ to a place that has come to mean hope, opportunity and love for their family. This fall Brandon will be enrolled in the mainstream kindergarten program at Donegal Primary School. In recognition of one chapter ending and a new one beginning for Brandon and his nine preschool friends, his STARS Preschool teachers have a surprise ending to the graduation ceremony – a symbolic butterfly release for each child.