SANFORD, Maine – On Friday, August 16, 24 talented and inspiring students walked across the graduation bridge at Waban’s Wormwood Center to receive their preschool diplomas. The students graduated from Waban’s Fraser-Ford Child Development Center (FFCDC), which offers a full-day, year-round special purpose therapeutic preschool, as well as kindergarten through fourth grade programs for children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and autism.

With caps on their heads and excitement in the air, students were joined by staff, family, and friends to celebrate this major accomplishment. The 24 graduates will be entering eight different school districts within York county. Some students will be entering kindergarten classes with both mainstream and special education curriculums, with two students continuing their education at FFCDC. The event was described as “bittersweet” by staff, who will miss the students they worked closely with to enhance social, safety, and life skills, as well as their functional communication abilities.

All 24 graduates have made great progress during their time at FFCDC as a result of the strong will and determination of each student and the dedicated staff who remained committed to seeing each child reach their maximum potential. Following the ceremony, staff and family gathered to enjoy refreshments and share stories of each student’s successes.

Jack and June were two of the FFCDC graduates being celebrated that day. The brother-sister duo are twins who experienced some difficulties reaching milestones after coming into the world over two months early and weighing only 3 pounds each. When her mother, Gail, noticed June wasn’t making eye contact by three months old, she worked with their pediatrician and eventually Child Development Services to find FFCDC, a place where June could receive early intervention services.

Within days, June started to show signs of improvement, and within months her mother noticed June making eye contact, having fewer self-harming behaviors, and starting to seek out social interaction with her family. Her mother was moved by her progress, noting “I can cuddle with her in ways I couldn’t before. In fact, now she doesn’t want me to put her down! I can’t even believe what a difference this has made for our family.” Seeing the progress June had made, Gail decided to enroll Jack at FFCDC when she noticed he wasn’t seeing progress at his own school. The twins have since seen miraculous growth and are ready for the next chapter in their lives.

Success stories like Jack and June’s are plentiful at FFCDC. Sarah Mehlhorn, the center’s director, commended the staff and students for their dedicationn and commitment. “We are so lucky to have such a great combination of students and staff here—I am so proud of you all and cannot wait to hear about all the kindergarten adventures!”