Students celebrate an end of an era at the Willie Ross School for the Deaf graduation

LONGMEADOW, Mass. (WWLP) – Three students at the Willie Ross School for the Deaf traded in their notebooks for caps and gowns Friday, as they said goodbye to a school that in many ways, has become a second home.

With the help of his translator, Jordan Alicea told 22News how grateful he is for all of the opportunities Willie Ross has given him.

“I probably wouldn’t even be able to communicate if it wasn’t for this school,” Alicea said.

The Willie Ross School partners with East Longmeadow Public Schools to offer students a unique opportunity.

The partnership gives students like Alicea a chance to interact with students who can, and can’t hear.

“I gained a lot from being with all of the kids at East Longmeadow High School, being able to be around with kids who can hear, kids who can’t hear, and being able to get along with everybody,” Alicea added.

Burt Carter, the President and CEO of the Willie Ross School for the Deaf told 22News, many students are there from kindergarten to graduation day, transitioning from children to adults.

“They’ve really developed themselves into fine young people, and that’s really the first goal for any kid, is to become a well-rounded adult, and that’s what they’ve done,” Carter said.

Alicea will be going to Holyoke Community College to study Criminal Justice. The other two graduates will be going into the workforce.