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Joshua Center Thames Valley Graduation a Joyous Event

June 16, 2022

The conference room at 11 Stott Ave., Norwich, wasn’t large enough to contain the joy expressed by families, friends, staff and students at the Joshua Center Thames Valley graduation ceremony Thursday morning. Six seniors graduated with diplomas in hand, and two eighth graders advanced from middle school. It was also the last graduation for Jill Bourbeau, director of School Programs for Natchaug Hospital, who worked for the system for 33 years. “I’m so proud of everybody,” she said at the conclusion of the brief but raucous ceremony. “All the students, the staff. This year’s graduation is even more meaningful.” Prior to the awarding of the diplomas, student awards were given out by teachers Amanda Zito and Caterina Poletti. Among the categories recognized were Most Sympathetic, Best Dancer, Most Likely to Get the Teacher Off Topic, Great Debater, Best Facial Expression and Animal Whisperer. A beloved tradition at the graduation is when each senior is given a rose to present to the person he or she feels was instrumental in their success. Students awarded roses to staff members Poletti, clinician Michelle Rabinowitz and Donna Rymash, their mothers and other relatives. Jillian Bucciero, Education Coordinator at Natchaug Hospital, gave the commencement address. She told the graduates that while at Joshua Center they not only did all their schoolwork, but they “learned to advocate for yourselves, navigate relationships, develop resiliency and build support systems.” Natchaug Hospital runs three state-approved special education programs serving students ages five to 21. There are six clinical day treatment schools in eastern Connecticut.