Latham’s first Virtual Graduation: Celebrating Natalya, whose smile brought “light to all of us”

The Latham community held a virtual graduation ceremony last month, saying “goodbye for now” to a talented student and caring friend, Natalya. Natalya was a Latham School student for almost eight years and truly blossomed in the program. While Natalya had been looking forward to an in-person graduation, she was incredibly flexible and understood the need for our first virtual graduation. More than 40 people attended the online ceremony, including friends and family off-campus as well as peers and staff on-campus. The graduation went off without a hitch.

Natalya was presented with a quilt by her parents, made especially for her by Brewster’s amazing Quilt Ladies and sent in the mail by Director of Education Meghan Foley. While Natalya has countless accomplishments at Latham Centers, each speaker noted her growing independence and impressive achievements.

Fred, current Teacher, said, “It’s been a privilege and honor getting to know you. You took risks in expanding your understanding of world.”  Beth, Clinician, discussed Natalya’s successful internships at places like Agway, as well as her drive to attend Project Forward at Cape Cod Community College.  

Brittni, her first Teacher at Latham, told Natalya, “I know this was not the way you hoped your graduation would be, but your ability to adapt and go with the flow is remarkable!  Your entire Latham community came together to celebrate YOU today, and that is something to smile about for sure!  As you embark on your next journey, please remember that life is a journey, and all accomplishments you achieve during its course should be taken as starting points for further achievements. Your graduation today is just a launching point, projecting you to wherever your future is meant to take you, and I know that it will take you very far!”

Natalya gave a poignant speech about her appreciation for the entire community, and her friendships with peers on campus. “Thank you to everyone for all the help, teaching, learning, and supporting,” she said.

Her peers’ words were perhaps the most meaningful. Mia said, “Your heart is made of gold and is filled with kindness. You’re such a special person.” Tiffany followed: “Your smile brings light to all of us!”

While all graduations at Latham Centers are emotional, Natalya’s was particularly heartfelt. Natalya has impacted so many during her time at Latham and grown tremendously over eight years. Congratulations, we are SO proud of you!

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