Three students graduated on June 5 from Project SEARCH (Special Education as Requirements in Charter Schools) at the Campanile Center in Minocqua. Justice Babcock, Nicole Deditz, and Desirae Knitt all graduated from the program.

Speakers at the graduation included Deditz’s mother, Mary, Howard Young Medical Center (HYMC) president Sandy Anderson, Patty Noland of the Department of Workforce Development, and Karen Pritchard from the HYMC dietary staff. Each speaker had praise for the interns and the Project SEARCH. 

“Project SEARCH allowed Nikki (Nicole) to be independent, grow, and learn so much more on her own with the spectacular guidance of the instructor, Ms. V., Jennifer Varsik,” Mary Deditz said.

Project SEARCH is a program allowing developmentally disabled young adults who have not yet graduated high school intern and gain real work experience. Noland explained Project SEARCH as a “business-led one year employment preparation program that takes place entirely in the workplace.” Each student goes through three rotations throughout the school year. The interns worked at Howard Young Medical Center: Ascension Group and One Penny Place.

“This is truly a collaborative effort between many different partners together to support these interns,” Noland said.

“Smiles, enthusiasm, courage, appreciation, inquisitiveness, bright, friendly, youthful, playful, fun loving, happy tears, kindness, friendliness, bravery, wonder, joy, excitement, dedication, commitment and amazing,” were the words Anderson and the associates at HYMC used to describe the interns. “On behalf of Howard Young, we have been honored and humbled to be a part of their journey as now they graduate and move on into being respected, bright, giving community members.”

Each of the graduates gave a presentation at the graduation on their journeys through Project SEARCH.

“My future goal is to save money to go to college,” Babcock explained. “I want to say thank you to all of you who were involved in Project SEARCH the past two years. Thank you.” 

Babcock plans to work at Milestone Senior Living.

Deditz has accomplished one of her dreams, working as a dietary assistant at Milestone.

“Thank you to anyone who helped taught me this year,” Deditz concluded.

“I have learned to become efficient when putting away delivery items. In my future, I hope to work in the supply chain at St. Mary’s Hospital,” Knitt explained. 

“You all have a very bright future a head of you,” Noland said.