Ezekiel Coan, Ariana Flores, Sergio Herrera, and Jennifer Martin.

Five interns of Project SEARCH graduated earlier tonight. Ariana Flores, Ezekiel Coan, Jennifer Martin, Leslie Torres, and Sergio Herrera are part of this year’s graduating class who interned at the City of Farmington, Home 2 Suites, and Farmington Schools. They are now ready to take on new challenges.

Project SEARCH is an inventive school-to-work internship program that gives young adults with disabilities the opportunity to learn job skills to help them gain employment. The program combines real-life work experience with training in professional and independent-living skills.

“Over the year, interns have worked hard in their internships and class meetings, and it’s not easy to learn and prepare for adult life, and what it means to be a good employee, but this group of interns has proved that what really counts is not the knowledge you start with but your willingness to try. They know that to be successful you have to show up with a good attitude and be ready to face the day,” said Chelsea Chairion, Project SEARCH Farmington Instructor & Program Manager.

Ms. Chairion credits the interns’ success to the incredible support from families adjusting to challenging pandemic times, as well as the work of mentors and skills trainers.

“I’m happy to say, that for the first time in three years interns were able to be at work, in-person for all 30 weeks of their internships. This has been possible by our amazing mentors at the City of Farmington, Home 2 Suites, and Farmington Schools. These mentors serve as the go-to person at their job sites and they show them the ropes and guide them through what it is like to be real employees. Also at the worksites, our amazing skills trainers help build relationships with the interns and guide them through the process of having and maintaining a job,” she added.

“All great achievers in life have made it where they are today due to their hard work, commitment, and determination. I leave you with a quote by former L.A. Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda: The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in the person’s determination. To Project SEARCH’s Class of 2022, congratulations! Ariana, Ezekiel, Jennifer, Leslie, and Sergio go forth into great things,” said FMS Board President Stephanie Thompson during her keynote remarks.

About 80 guests attended tonight’s ceremony at the Farmington Civic Center. Accompanying families and FMS staff were Board Vice President Keith Corley, Board Secretary Kyle Rhodes, Board Member Andra Stradling, Superintendent Dr. Eugene Schmidt, and Incoming Superintendent Cody Diehl.

Project SEARCH confirmed the following incoming interns: Meghan Lexa (Aztec), Savannah Langlitz (Aztec), Aiden Camp (FHS), Alexander Martinez (FHS), Russell Paquien (PVHS), Hayden West (PVHS), and Terran McCoy-Schafer (graduated out of state).

Top Photo: Ezekiel Coan, Ariana Flores, Sergio Herrera, and Jennifer Martin.