On Wednesday, August 17, twenty little graduates celebrated the successful completion of their programs at the Fraser-Ford Child Development Center surrounded by parents, teachers and staff. These graduates have been working and playing, learning the skills they’ll need to move on to kindergarten.

Fraser-Ford Child Development Center Ed Tech Melissa Chrusicel hugs her student Natalie moments after the conclusion of graduation ceremonies, surrounded by parents and staff at Waban’s Wormwood Center. Photo courtesy Meaghan Ayer

Graduation ceremonies took place at Waban’s Wormwood Banquet and Conference Center, and the 5- and 6-year-olds patiently sat at the front of the room, donning their construction paper graduation caps, and looking out at their parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, and the rest of their family and friends.

Executive Director Neal Meltzer had the honor of welcoming attendees and congratulating the Class of 2016 on their hard work and numerous achievements. He then passed the microphone off to the Center’s veteran teacher, Brianne Westman. With tears in her eyes, she proudly shared memories and accomplishments of her students’ journeys. Each of her fellow teachers was in turn able to impart stories and words of encouragement with their own graduates and the audience before handing out the
well-deserved diplomas and gift bags.

Brianne Westman, Erica Johnson, Amy Knapp, Kiley Monsalvez, Erica Beal, Jo-Ann Estrella, and every
member of the Fraser-Ford Child Development Center staff mentioned the same bittersweet feelings as
they watched their students walk toward the podium, knowing that they had to say goodbye.

Waban’s Fraser-Ford Child Development Center addresses the needs of preschool children with autism,
intellectual and developmental disabilities, severe medical issues, Down Syndrome, and other developmental delays with the goal of transitioning to public school systems. The skills they learn help them to more easily enter into kindergarten.

Parent Christa Silva expressed her thanks and congratulations, “When our Jackson first started at Waban he made minimal to no eye contact, he would not respond to his name, wouldn’t dream of wearing a backpack and was making no attempt at mimicking words. Jackson now enjoys spelling his name with blocks and playing with numbers. He will try very hard to mimic sounds and has started to make his needs known with a special communication device. To say we will miss Waban is an understatement, but the skills we are taking away from our time here will never be measured. You increased my son’s quality of life in just a few years, and for a Mother there is no greater gift you could give me than that. Good job Jackson! Couldn’t be more proud of you!”

For more information about the Fraser-Ford Child Development Center please visit: www.waban.org.