CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — June means the end of one chapter and the beginning of another for students across the state, and for students with intellectual abilities in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, it means the world has now been opened in a way they never thought possible.   

Friday morning seven students who have taken part in Project SEARCH will graduate with a certificate recognizing the hands-on training they’ve received during the academic year.   

“We watch them go into the world and make their mark,” explained CMS educator Paige Henderson. “They just blossom into the adults that they are supposed to be.”   

The program sets up students who have gone through an assessment with the ability to learn communication, problem-solving and rule-following skills through real-world application.   

Two years ago, CMS partnered with Novant Health to allow students to get those skills at the Novant Health Medical Centers in Huntersville and Matthews.   

For the academic school year, those students spend three to four hours at the medical center performing the job they were assigned or picked.   

The jobs include:  

  • Sanitizing the cafeteria,
  • Sanitizing medical equipment,
  • Restoking equipment,
  • Assisting patients and their families to their respective locations.  

In October Queen City News introduced viewers to several students, like Dagmawi Yonas, who said he wanted to learn valuable skills he can use to get a job.

On Thursday, the day before his graduation, he said the most valuable lesson he’s learned is confidence. 

“When I got here first, I didn’t know what to do,” he said. “I lacked confidence, but now I have confidence.”    

At least one of the seven students have begun submitting applications to potential employers, which include Novant’s Matthews Medical Center.   

The others said they plan to submit applications after graduation.   

To see each student’s resume video, click here.