DONNA, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Donna Independent School District held a ribbon cutting ceremony this morning to announce its new Student Transitional 18+ Program.

The program is dedicated to further help students with disabilities after high school.

“Our vision is to graduate all students college, career, and military ready, including those that need additional support,” Superintendent of Schools Angela Dominguez told ValleyCentral. “This has just been an amazing opportunity for us, and even more exciting for our kids.” 

Through this program, high school graduate students with disabilities from ages 18 to 21 will have the opportunity to learn both vocational and soft skills needed to successfully transition into the workforce.

“Knowing that our kids needed additional support to transition that was hands-on and in the field really motivated us to do something different to meet the individualized academic needs of our students,” Dominguez added.

Students will fully experience different types of jobs, including how to run a thrift store, a coffee shop, and a merchandise design workshop.

The program also features an outdoor garden, where students like Esmeralda Cruz, hope to turn their gardening skills into a future career.

Donna ISD student, Esmeralda Cruz told ValleyCentral, “I love it because they teach us how to do things like independent skills, like gardening, cooking. I like the garden because it looks nice; it looks beautiful.”

Through these interactive work stations, students will practice how to serve and communicate with customers.

They’ll also have the opportunity to not only produce items, like a customized t-shirts or a bouquet of flowers, but will sell them at school events.

Funds raised will be used to continue supporting the programs.

“I am very happy that the Donna ISD is giving our students the opportunity to where it doesn’t end as soon as they graduate, that they’ve added this program so they could continue,” Donna ISD parent, Jessica Vega said.

The Student Transitional 18+ Program is open to students 18 to 21 year old with special needs from all districts.

Although students currently participate in the program for half a day, the district expects to make this a full-day program by this upcoming school year.