EAST MOLINE, Illinois - Students at Black Hawk Area Special Education Center are closing the book on their last chapter at school.
Thursday, December 15, 2016 is a special night for some students at the center. For students Kilee and Joe, it’s their graduation day.
Kilee and Joe have spent most of their lives at Black Hawk Area Education Center, enrolling in the special education program as toddlers.
“They've brought him so far and every person we have met at the center has just been wonderful to him,” says Mary Kelly, Joe's mother.
The students’s graduation isn't the only thing their friends and family are celebrating. They both turn 22 years old in January.
“She’s exceeded 100 times over all of our expectations she just keeps amazing us every day,” says Heather Foster, Kilee's mother.
Even with the milestones and memories, the celebration is bitter sweet for parents.
“It's just the end of a chapter and when the end of a chapter happens then, anxiety,” says Foster.
“Very, very proud and happy but sad at the same time,” says Kelly.
“My mom said when I had Kilee, ‘the time will fly by and you will close your eyes and she will be grown’ and I thought whatever,” added Foster.
Graduating from the center may have come sooner than expected but good bye isn't forever. Joe and Kylie still plan to visit their teachers and friends they've met along the way.
Students attend the center until they are 22, then transition into an adult learning center. Kilee plans to still volunteer at the center and wants to find a job working with animals. Joe and his dad will also continue help with the school's recycling program.
The Black Hawk Area Special Education Center provides resources and support for students aged 3-22, whose needs are best served in a separate public day school. The school is designed for students who require a highly structured and supportive environment to incorporate academic, behavior and emotional support, function life skills and vocational training.