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Paul Nelson, KSL Newsradio Watching their child graduate high school can be one of the proudest moments a parent can have. It's especially fulfilling for one group of Utah parents.
School officials introduce the graduates, strike up the band and cue the proud parents.
Among the Copper Hills High School graduating class is McKenzie McBride. "It's a scary experience," McKenzie says. She doesn't really know what field she'll get into after high school. She's thinking, maybe, massage therapy. There is one thing she knows for sure: "I'm going to miss my school."
She seems just like any graduate, but her father says there is one major difference. "She's had a seizure disorder, and she's what is called ‘intellectually delayed.' She is operating, probably, on an eight-year-old level," says Ken McBride.
But, like any father in The E Center that day, Ken was bursting with pride for his child. "It's a fantastic experience just to see how she has been able to progress through the system," Ken says.
Ken says it's especially fulfilling to see McKenzie walk and be treated like the rest of the students. "It integrates her with the so-called regular kids," he says.
McKenzie is one of five Copper High students graduating with severe special needs. Special Education Cluster teacher Kai Kapele says the conditions of some of these students are so serious, it's hard for them to do things other people may think of as simple. Kai says, "It's a transition just to be able to sit… to sit in classes [and know] how to act appropriately in classes."
Kai says most special-needs students from Copper Hills will go on to get post-high-school education. As for McKenzie, she's planning to go to the South Valley School in the fall.