The Illinois School for the Visually Impaired’s four seniors took another forward step in life Friday as they received their diplomas.
“Each member of the Class of 2016 has had their own physical and emotional challenges to overcome, but they each have been able to attain their goal of earning a diploma and being actively involved in their school,” ISVI Principal Aimee Veith said.
Colin Nichols of Jacksonville has been active with Special Olympics and is drawn to music.
“He has a lust for music and is an extremely talented vocalist,” Veith said.
Jessica Lazare of Chicago will return to ISVI in the fall to participate in the school’s transitional living program, which focuses on independent living skills, attaining jobs on and off campus and having the opportunity to attend Lincoln Land Community College.
“She has great empathy for young children who are blind or have a visual impairment,” Veith said.
Lucas Paschall of Urbana also plans to take part in ISVI’s transitional living program before transferring to Lincoln Land Community College in spring 2017.
“One of his future goals is to be a youth minister, and I believe his faith will take him far,” Veith said.
Alayna Lopez of Earlville plans to take part in ISVI’s transitional living program in order to improve her academic skills before attending Lincoln Land Community College. Her goal is to become a chef.
“When I see Alayna, she’s always smiling,” Veith said. “She has a very positive outlook on life.”
Across town, Illinois School for the Deaf’s principal expressed some regret in seeing the 19 graduating seniors move on to the next step in their lives.
“They are the most diverse and yet closely-knit group of seniors that I’ve ever been around,” ISD high school principal Christine Good-Deal said. “Their futures include graphic designers, photographers, special education teachers and a lumberjack. This is a class that communicates using American Sign Language and English, and they use those modes in a variety of ways depending on their audience.
“They take people at face value and match communication modes,” she continued. “This class is unique in its universal acceptance of communication modes. I have immensely enjoyed watching them mature over the past four years. I hate to see them go. Their vitality will be missed.”
Senior Chatjuan Rice was chosen by her classmates to speak at graduation.
“I honestly love how my class is just one big, happy, dysfunctional family,” Rice said to an audience of graduates, family, friends and ISD faculty and staff assembled in the Marshall Multipurpose Building.
“We all came here on different terms, at different times, from different places, and for different reasons,” she said. “However, we each came here gunning for the same goal, which is to succeed. Looking out at all of us with our caps and gowns on, I think we did just that, but we know our work is far from done.”
Greg Olson can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1224, or on Twitter @JCNews_Greg.