Tobinworld: 'They are ready to go off into the unknown'

The students and staff at Tobinworld know how to mark an occasion, and graduation proved no exception Monday with more than 100 people crowding into the special education school’s auditorium to bid farewell to the class of 2012.

“I am so excited,” said 18-year-old Hannah Yang, who treated the crowd to a piano rendition of Mariah Carey’s “Hero” during commencement. “I am getting to graduate. It is my whole year. It was a success. It was pretty awesome.”

Founded in 1977 by the mother of an autistic child, Tobinworld currently serves 300 students at its Glendale campus, and an additional 90 students at a satellite site in Antioch, Calif. Students range in age from 5 to 22 years old, and all are classified as severely emotionally disturbed, autistic or developmentally disabled.

They come from 22 different school districts in southern California.

In addition to Yang, the 2012 Tobinworld high school graduates included Jose Martinez and Walter Cabrera.

“If I had to sum up my high school academy class this year, it would be fearless,” said Joe Corona, head of the Tobinworld high school academy. “They are ready to go off into the unknown and achieve their dreams. I have never experienced anything like that, so I am so glad I am part of Tobinworld.”

Another 15 students celebrated their culmination from the school, and will move on to age-appropriate day programs and living facilities.

“They have completed their curriculum requirements and they are ready to transfer to another program, sometimes assisted living, sometimes supervised workshop,” said Assistant Principal Chris Lougheed.

Earlier this year the school received a new three-year certification from the California Department of Education, as well as special commendation for some of its specialty programs.

The school is well known for its elaborate special occasion celebrations, including its Christmas party and Halloween costume parade.

Commencement is among the most fun days of the academic calendar, staff said.

“They seem to have a lot of fun with it,” staff member Beth Schapira said. “They get a kick out of it. There is a lot of excitement in the months of April and May for getting ready for graduation in June and leaving school."

Twitter: @megankoneil

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