Special needs kids grab hearts, diplomas at graduation

The month of May is graduation season at The University of Southern Mississippi, not just for undergrads, but for kids at The Children's Center for Communication. 25 youngsters walked across the stage to receive their diplomas on Friday.

Dozens of five-year-olds showcased one of their favorite songs of the year by singing "The Itsy Bitsy Spider" to kick off their graduation ceremony. Seven on your side asked one child what is favorite part of the day was.

"I'm four!" was his reply.

USM President Dr. Rodney Bennett handed out diplomas.

"I have done several graduations already this spring, and this, by far, is as special as anything I have done," Bennett said.

First Lady Deborah Bryant attended the special ceremony, and highlighted the importance of programs in place for children with special needs.

"We all have disabilities. Ya know?" Bryant said.

"And they all have potential to reach, and they need to reach their highest potential. Would be so sad if a parent did not bring a child to a facility like this."

Sarah Case-Price, Director/Speech Language Pathologist with the school has worked with many of the grads since they were born.

"Many of these children, we've worked with since infancy and to see them now getting ready to go to kindergarten and to see the changes they've been through and the changes that the families have been through, it's a very rewarding experience."

She added that being in attendance at Friday's event is good for the heart.

The Children's Center at USM is a United Way Agency, and it is also a clinical program within The Department of Speech and Hearing Services at USM's Hattiesburg and Gulf Park campuses.