a young woman wearing sleep shades carries a large pot of boiling pasta to the strainer at the sink

Haylee made it all look easy and well-organized in the weeks and days before her graduation.

Haylee might have been a little stressed out as she approached her graduation day, but to all outward appearances, she made it all look seamless, right down to her quick change of outfits prior to giving a polished and well-researched speech after cooking all day.

Haylee first came to the Center for our summer program in 2014, just after her high school graduation. Always a bundle of fun – riding her skate board, shooting baskets, and a mean goal baller – she wasn’t crazy about carrying a white cane at first.

a young woman under sleep shades screws on the hinges to a keepsake box held by clamps

Haylee’s woodshop project was a keepsake box, which required a number of intricate cuts with with several different hand- and power saws.

“Haylee has always taken my arm when we went places together,” her sister Kaitlynd told us at the Bell Ceremony. “But the first time I came to visit her here I said ‘Take my arm,” and she said ‘No, I have my cane and I’ll just walk with you.'”

That’s when Kaitlynd understood that her younger sister was growing into her own independence.

Her sister, mother and father all came from Arizona for Haylee’s graduation, and got a notion of her growth and impact at the Center and how proud we all are of her accomplishments.

Julie and Haylee hug and smile broadly as the Freedom Bell is presentedAnd she finished with flair – an intricate keepsake box in woodshop, a great speech one day, a fabulous grad meal the next of homemade chili mac, a blue cheese & pine nut salad with raspberry vinaigrette, white chocolate chip cookies and strawberry lemonade.

If it sounds great, that’s because it was!

She’s back in Arizona working part-time for her Dad’s business and getting ready to go on to college, planning to become a teacher.

The topic of her speech, by the way, was “Synesthesia.” Well, Haylee’s color is definitely yellow – bright and cheerful like a Dutch tulip on a spring day!
a young woman rings her Freedom Bell enthusiastically