‘The sky is the limit;’ Student with severe autism graduates high school after 10 years

OAKWOOD — A milestone a student’s parents worried would not become a reality for their son.

Graham Hardy spent the last 10 years at Oakwood High School, but on Monday he walked across the stage and got his diploma.

“I was amazed, you never would have dreamed of it, three or four years ago,” Don and Kim Hardy, Graham’s parents said.

Graham’s parents said his journey in school was not always easy, but in the last few years, he started to blossom.

“When I drop him off in the morning he literally sprints across the courtyard, elbows all the other students out of the way to get to the door,” Don said.

Due to having severe autism, a graduation ceremony with a huge crowd watching was not in the cards for Graham.

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Don said at one point his son struggled to leave the classroom.

“Boy has he come a long way, and for him to come in the room with the two of us in there and maybe 40 other people, all of them watching him, to put a gown on, go downstage, get his diploma from the principal and just exit stage left, it was awesome,” Don said.

Graham’s parents thanked his longtime teachers Becky Sledge and Rachael Judge for all they have done for him.

“Graham can now navigate the whole building. We were not able to take him on field trips or outings and now we can go anywhere. We feel like the sky is the limit with him,” Sledge said.

Just one of the reasons it was important to his teachers that he celebrated this accomplishment.

“We just wanted it so much for him and his family. So it was just really special to see the whole school come together for Graham because he’s worked so hard,” Judge said.

What’s next for Graham is still up in the air, but whatever it is they hope to see him continue to grow.

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