NASSAU COUNTY, N.Y. - While seniors like Jai may not have a typical graduation ceremony this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers at Henry Viscardi, a school in Nassau County, New York, for students with severe physical disabilities, wanted to make the experience even more meaningful.
They decorated a school bus and from a safe distance plan to stop at every student's home to present them with a diploma.
While Jai has a hard time communicating, his smile clearly said it all.
"He is someone," Vandana Malhota, his mom, said. "He's an individual who has worked as hard as every other student who has finished high school this year. It's recognition to everyone else he can do it."
(FOX 5 NY/Jodi Goldberg)
For Lilly, reuniting with her teachers and Sunny, the school's facility dog, was a major surprise and much-needed closure to cap off the end of the year.
"It was just, 'Come outside,'" she said. "I legitimately had no clue."
The graduation drop-by is in lieu of a traditional commencement ceremony. All the 21 graduating students will receive a surprise visit over the next two days. A virtual graduation will take place next week to continue celebrating this milestone.
"Just coming off the bus, seeing them, their reactions and families was one of the best experiences so far," said senior advisor Jessica Kammerer of the Henry Viscardi School.
While it's far from the way they hoped to end the school year, celebrating their accomplishments with those who helped them along the way made it all worth it.