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Jasmin Estrada couldn’t stop smiling after she was handed her Klamath County Transition Program completion diploma.

At the age of 21, the outgoing Estrada, known for her ability to dance, has spent the last three years working on independent living and job skills needed for life outside a structured program.

Estrada was one of five students honored Thursday during Klamath County Transition Program’s annual Independence Day celebration. Special education students can enter the program at the age of 18 after graduating from high school. They complete the program at the age of 21.

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Jasmin Estrada smiles as she receives her certificate of completion from the Klamath County Transition Program.

Work, life, community

KCTP teaches job skills training, independent living skills, and gets students involved in the community. Students work in business at Clean Sweep janitorial and at JO2GO coffee carts at the Klamath County Library Bookie Joint and the KCSD district office.

Students celebrated at the event June 6 were Chris Dockery, Jasmin Estrada, Skylar Gillham, Natalie Hand, and Regina Teixeria.

Randy Denson, the program’s head teacher, reminded the graduating students about the support they have in their community.

“It can be scary, but … look into the crowd,” he said, indicating the gathering of community leaders, business owners, supporters, friends and family members. “These people have seen your progress and skills. Do not be afraid to use them as resources to help you navigate a successful life after transition.”

The next level

Klamath County Commissioner Derrick DeGroot, who was keynote speaker, called Klamath County Transition Program an important link that provides young adults an opportunity to work toward the next level of independence.

“These students have the attributes of leaders,” he said. “They have a way of inspiring us and making us do a better job in our jobs every day.”

Denson introduced each of the graduates as they came forward to receive their completion certificates.

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Klamath County Transition Program graduate Chris Dockery watches fellow students receive their completion diplomas.

Chris Dockery, who moved to Klamath Falls from Texas, was new to the program this year. He enjoys fishing and hanging out with friends. He is known for his love of country music, and at the ceremony Thursday wore his cowboy hat.

Jasmin Estrada has been with the program for three years. She enjoys art, shopping and hanging out with friends. She is known for her dancing, and is skilled at Zumba.

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Klamath County Transitions Program head teacher Randy Denson, left, poses with graduate Skylar Gillham.

Skylar Gillham, a three-year program participant, was credited with always being willing to help. He enjoys fishing, video games, and participating in Special Olympics.

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Klamath County Transition Program head teacher Randy Denson poses with graduate Natalie Hand.

Natalie Hand has been with the program for two years. She enjoys Zumba, cooking and shopping, and is known for her memory and abilities at trivia games, especially Disney trivia.

Regina Teixeria was unable to attend the ceremony on Thursday. She also was new to the program this year, joining in January. During the past six months, she has been an advocate and mentor to her peers, and is known for being kind and patient with others.

Denson also recognized two Henley High School students – Claudia Lasater and Kevin Renslow – who did their senior projects at the Transition Program.

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Special services principal Nancy Denson, left, and head teacher Randy Denson, center, pose with Klamath County Transition Program graduates Chris Dockery, Jasmin Estrada, Skylar Gillham, and Natalie Hand.

Student goals

The goal for Transition students is to provide them skills, opportunities, resources and connections that will be valuable after they leave the program, Denson said.

“Although employment is important and a large priority in our program, a thought, idea, and truly a philosophy came to us last year,” he said. “Klamath County Transition Program needs to give each adult an incredible experience.”

“Transition isn’t a program,” he added. “It’s a lifestyle. We hope to develop these core foundations for a life that is happy, positive and productive for each young adult.”