Congratulations Grads!

Students in SJCOE and Tracy Unified special education programs celebrate

The late spring wind swept through the Special Education Programs Commencement Ceremony on May 19, accelerating festive bubbles across the solar parking lot at the San Joaquin County Office of Education (SJCOE) campus. But the wind couldn't blow away any of the excitement during the vehicle parade celebrating the Class of 2021.


The annual commencement ceremony celebrates students in both SJCOE and Tracy Unified School District young adult programs. Students graduate when the reach the age of 22, the maximum age to receive public education. For many families, graduation marks the end of a years-long relationship with their programs.

This was the second year the ceremony was held outside in a procession of vehicles that took several slow laps around the parking lot as music blared and people danced.

Teachers and other educators and supporters for the graduates held up hand-made signs and cheered the passing cars, which were festooned with balloons and other decorations.

After the ceremony, families took turns posing for photos under a large balloon arch. Vinnie Torrice beamed as SJCOE staff members who had known him since preschool offered their congratulations.

"Everybody remembers Vinnie," said Vito Torrice, his father. "He's very social. He treats everyone like they are his best friend." He said that his son is more independent today than he would have been without the people in the program.

 "I don't think that he would have accomplished 1/2 of the things that he was without the guidance from these folks," he said. "It's a sad goodbye, but it is has also been a blessing. These people have been wonderful for him."

Posted: 5/27/2021