January 25, 2020

Launch takes off

Launch's first-ever graduation ceremony took place on Friday at the high school. (Photo by Olivia Gieger '17)

On Friday October 2nd, Matthew Fadule was the first student to graduate from Launch.

The Launch program, which was created by James Gowen in 2012, is designed for Wellesley residents ages 18-22 on the autism spectrum.

Stephanie Falconi, a paraprofessional for the program, says teaches vocational skills and helps prepare its students for different types of jobs and daily life skills. “The main goal of the program is to teach our students what they need to become independent,” said Falconi. “These skills include use of computers, laundry, fitness, nutrition and cooking.”

Students in the Launch program work in a variety of different places in the community.

“Our graduate works at the public library and in the cafeteria,” said Falconi. “Some of his peers work at the central office at the middle school and the cycle bar as part of their maintenance,”

The program strives to prepare students for life after the program.

“We really want to get them ready for their next stage in life,” said Falconi. “This can be through recreational and community activities.”

Unlike other programs, Launch emphasizes the importance of support in the classroom.

“The program wants to provide students with the support they need for after high school,” said Heather Costigan, another paraprofessional for the program. “We wants to give them that extra step for success as an adult.”

Students are a part of the program for roughly four years. “Unlike the rest of the high school the program doesn’t work in grades or years,” said Falconi. “Student’s stay until they are ready to move on.”

After a student turns 22, they are deemed an adult by the state and will move on to a more independant adult program. At this time, the program hosts a graduation for this student.

(Celia Golod ’17, Photo Editor)

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