When Chloe Wilson’s teachers think back on all she’s done in her time at Doris A. Sanders Learning Center, one of the first things that comes to mind is her role as a butterfly in the school play — a fitting memory of a student who’s grown so dramatically and beautifully.
“We’ve really seen her blossom,” said teacher Heather Stroud.
This weekend, Wilson will celebrate who she’s become alongside her fellow Doris A. Sanders graduates.
Born with Down syndrome and later diagnosed with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, Wilson often got into trouble when she was in elementary school. In the seventh grade, she enrolled at Doris A. Sanders and everything started to change.
“Now, she can be counted on to follow directions,” said her mother, Daune Lethers. “She’s someone you can depend and trust to do what you ask her to do.”
At Doris A. Sanders, Wilson has participated in the school safety patrol, FFA, Special Olympics sports including cheerleading and track, and student council. She was also homecoming queen and earned a blue ribbon for plants that she entered into the county’s Youth Fair.
Those opportunities helped keep Wilson engaged in school, which made way for the maturity she’s gained over the years, Lethers said.
“She’s just evolved and become more well-rounded. When she’s at school, she knows she’s held to a high standard,” Lethers said. “It’s been a wonderful experience.”
While Wilson, 19, will participate in Saturday’s graduation ceremony, she is actually deferring her high school diploma until age 22. Until then, she will study in PCPS’ Transition program, taking part in a specialized curriculum focused on developing life and job skills.
As she continues in the Transition program, Wilson will continue building her computer skills. She already loves using the computer to research topics such as princesses, animals and weddings, but Lethers said she’s eager to learn even more.
Wilson is also getting retail and customer service experience by selling snacks and drinks from the school’s snack cart, which she and other students wheel from class to class.
“No matter what she’s doing, she’s always laughing and having fun,” said teacher Nancy Brier.
PCPS’ three learning centers – Doris A. Sanders, Jean O’Dell and Karen M. Siegel – will stage their Class of 2020 graduations beginning at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Lake Region High School. The ceremonies were delayed because of COVID-19.
PCPS will livestream the ceremonies on our YouTube channel, at youtube.com/polkcountypublicschools.