A High School Graduation to Remember

Josh* arrived at Sunrise’s Spring Meadow Center in Mt. Washington on July 19, 2018, at the age of 17, from the Warren County Juvenile Detention Center.  Prior to his arrival, he was contacted by Spring Meadows Center Residential Therapist and Case Manager.  They explained to him about the Sunrise program and received buy in from Josh prior to admission.  Josh was also informed that we would look into alternatives and specialize a program toward his unique needs, such as Independent Living, Jobs Corps, College Tours, or Work program.  This was done as he would turn 18 years old prior to having enough time to complete the program.  He also only needed four credits to graduate from high school.

Josh ran into a few snags along the way as he and another boy living at Spring Meadows Center went AWOL, and tested positive for THC and Methamphetamines upon their return.  This was a wake-up call for Josh.  He came back after a meeting with his treatment team and his DCBS worker re-establishing his commitment to the program.  He had two minor incidents and now has become a model client, being more active in group, working on his treatment goals, and even overcoming a phobia that was identified while at Spring Meadows Center.

Josh made it his personal mission to graduate as he had hoped he might get an early discharge from Spring Meadows if he did.  So, on his own, he prepared a calendar and blocked out what he needed to complete and how long it would take him.  He took packets of school work to his room to work on and worked on the computer on weekends and during school breaks.  The Sunrise team assisted the client’s request, and Mrs. Michelle Gajdik, Bullitt County teacher, made herself available on those weekends in order to provide Josh with Chromebook checks.  He stayed on track, focused and completed his four credits . . . only to find out Bullitt County schools calculated his hours slightly different than Franklin County Schools.  Josh had one and a half credits left to complete and – for early graduation – a required presentation and petition letter.

He didn’t hesitate. He maintained his composure during this setback and completed his requirements and petitioned for early graduation.  On Tuesday, November 20, Spring Meadows Center held a high school graduation ceremony to which would match any public school program.  Josh’s family, Bullitt County representatives, Josh’s DCBS worker, REACH Program representatives, and SCS associates attended the program.  Special thanks to Sunrise’s Direct Care Counselors Ms. LaTanya Germany, Erica Hall, and Hallie Heller for the planning and execution of this event.

In his graduation speech, Josh contributed his success to “hard work and dedication to your goals. (With those things) you can accomplish anything.” Josh’s celebration is such a bright spot and a beautiful reminder of why we do what we do here at Sunrise.


*Name changed to protect the identity of individual.
Submitted by Monica Echols, Sunrise Residential Therapist at Spring Meadows Center

Kait Flora