Mary Cariola Center hosts drive-through graduation |

Mary Cariola Center hosts drive-through graduation

Stephanie Duprey
Updated: June 17, 2021 11:19 PM
Created: June 16, 2021 10:07 PM

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Mary Cariola Children's Center handed out diplomas to 17 graduates Thursday night. The center says like every other school, pandemic challenges made it difficult, but in the end, the students prevailed.

More than a dozen graduates pulled up to Mary Cariola Center in their decorated cars for the last time, leaving with a well-deserved diploma. Danielle Kearsley says her 21-year-old son Micah Frink has been going to the center since he was five years old. 

"A little bittersweet because this has been such a great place for Micah,” Kearsley said. 

21 is the cut-off age for the center, Micah's family says plans after graduation look bright. In his time at the center, his communication skills and more have improved. Like any other school, Mary Cariola had its challenges, but they made it work. They say, what was difficult on everyone was the routine that the pandemic changed. For many individuals with disabilities, a consistent schedule is crucial. 

"Our children with developmental disabilities or autism are really most successful with routine, how does my bus go, how does the school calendar go how does my class go in order,” said Mary Cariola President and CEO Karen Zandi.

Parents of the grads also agreed that it was the "routine" aspect that really threw them and their child for a loop when it came to academics. 

"It's hard to be out of a routine and not have their daily regimen of school so it was nice to be back even if it was a few weeks this year,” Kearsley said. 

The center says their summer session will begin in July. They're still waiting for more guidance and sorting out plans for the fall.

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