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Verge House celebrates accomplishments of students

by Paula Levy

The guests of honour at the Verge House Transition Program celebration of accomplishments were, from left, Rebekah Turple, Hubert Zinck, Jillian Young and Alex Lefebvre.
 BRIDGEWATER - Five students from the Verge House Transition Program were honoured at a celebration of accomplishments ceremony on June 3.

 Teacher Genevieve McCarthy said the transition program prepares the students to become independent.

 "Just like a house needs a foundation to be strong and withhold all that nature has to throw at it, so too do the Verge House students need a very strong curriculum - individualized, functional, hands-on curriculum - to prepare them for the challenges they'll meet as they are integrated into the community at large," said Ms McCarthy.

 The students - Christopher Le-Blanc, Alex Lefebvre, Rebekah Turple, Jillian Young and Hubert Zinck - were prepared by the Verge House staff for their road ahead.

 Ms McCarthy spoke highly and recognized the accomplishments of each of the students that she has come to know over the three years in the program.

 Guest speaker Michael Graves, co-ordinator for Lunenburg County United Way, simply told the students "you can do it." He said everyone in life faces challenges.

 "These challenges might be intellectual, physical, environmental or societal. Yet what is readily apparent is that these challenges, no matter what the causes, can be overcome."

 He said parents of intellectually challenged children can either do nothing or provide the resources to create the conditions that the child needs to thrive.

 "These opportunities would definitely have to start with your own personal commitment," said Mr. Graves. "As no man is an island, no problem or opportunity can be solved alone."

 He said problems, opportunities and challenges that parents face can only be met by the "resources and the support of the community like we have here in Lunenburg County."

 Mr. Graves said the circle of the community involves recreational, social and employment opportunities for intellectually challenged people.

 "These new skills bring new opportunities and challenges as the first exciting steps are taken towards personal independence," he added. "What is apparent is that in this journey and every journey that every one of us takes during our lives, there is a community behind us."

 Before the certificates were presented to the graduates, someone close to each student spoke of their accomplishments so far in their lives.

 In a letter written by Terri Demont but read by Marla Rafuse, it was noted that Mr. Lefebvre is a compassionate and friendly young man with a great sense of humour. Ms Demont worked with Mr. Lefebvre at the learning centre at Forest Heights Community School.

 Ms Demont wrote that even after Mr. Lefebvre left school for the transition program, he continued to visit the centre. She noted she was proud of Mr. Lefebvre's accomplishments. He is now working at Two Chefs.

 Katherine McCarthy said she has known Ms Turple for only a few years. Ms McCarthy spoke about Ms Turple's astrological sign, Virgo. She said the young woman is as her sign states - intellectual, analytical, rational, fair, talented, a planner and hard working.

 Ms McCarthy added the Verge House has helped Ms Turple grow into a fine young woman with positive self-esteem and confidence. She said it has also given her social and employment opportunities.

 Terry Doucette said that Ms Young was smiling the first day she came to school and continues to smile.

 "When I met her she was smiling and frightfully interested in everything," he said. Ms Young, a sports enthusiast, was described as being delightful, friendly, bubbly and enthusiastic.

 "Her teachers and I remember Jill for her sense of humour and her great spirit," said Mr. Doucette. "Success for Jillian is the product of her spirit and determination and the efforts of many caring and dedicated professional educators and program assistants."

 Ms Young now works at McDonald's and Penny Lane in Queens County.

 Debra Featherby said that Mr. Zinck "embodies many of the characteristics that we wish all of our children and students had."

 She said he looks forward to going to school every day and completes his daily tasks with determination. Those characteristics will serve him well with his job at Zellers.

 "He comes with such an eagerness. How could you not want to be around Hubert? He is perennially happy," said Ms Featherby.

 Although Mr. LeBlanc did not attend the ceremony, Ms McCarthy said a few words about him. The young man works at Wal-Mart.

 "He has really shown a lot of growth," said Ms McCarthy. "He may not be here in body, but he is in spirit today. And we really do appreciate and celebrate his accomplishments."

 A surprised and tearful Verge House student, Kayla Whynot, received this year's Paul Eisnor Memorial Fund award. Mr. Eisnor was a student in the program and made a lasting impression on program administrators. A fund was set up in his name.

posted on 06/09/09
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