For some children, earning enough credits to graduate from high school is a challenge. For children with developmental disabilities, it can seem unattainable. That’s why Griffin Terry is a winner.
Diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, oppositional defiance disorder, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, he struggled in a traditional classroom. After four years at Damar Charter Academy, he graduated in June with a traditional “Core 40” high school diploma, having earned the required 40 credits.
His grandfather and legal guardian Ron Terry said the difference is that DCA is tailored for kids with Griffin’s issues. Regular schools that didn’t understand what was going on with him would respond to his struggles by expelling him. “When he had problems at DCA, they’d say, ‘That’s a part of who they are, and we deal with it.”‘ Ron said. “They took the time to look past the behaviors.”
Griffin has proven to be a sweet kid with a passion for helping others. He’s already started classes at Ivy Tech, where he’s pursuing a two-year degree in manufacturing technology. He’s nervous about a big school without the safety nets of Damar, but he seems to be adjusting well. In addition, he’s working at Lowe’s. As a result, when school was out, he could just walk to work from the bus stop. “The neat thing about it is that he did it all on his own,” Ron said. “He applied online, went into the store for an interview. All I do is transport him there. He loves it, especially the money.”
“I think the staff at Damar makes a big different,” Ron added. “Plus, he was with peers who had issues jus like him. He didn’t feel like the odd man out. He has quite a few friends from there.”
Combined, the Charter Academy and Freeway Academy graduated 20 students in June. Six of them, including Griffin, earned diplomas, and 22 earned a Certificate of Completion, which is typical for kids with special needs.