Northview honors special education students

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DOTHAN, Ala. (WTVY) -- Northview High School's graduation ceremony is next week, but a special ceremony was held Friday at the school for an exceptional group of seniors.

Family, faculty, and friends filled the James A. Smith Convocation Center to honor graduates with special needs.

The students were familiar faces to the keynote speaker Bravo-TV Top Chef Kelsey Barnard Clark who got to know them during the Special Olympics.

"They all have such amazing spirits and attitudes. I hope I can help them moving forward. Whether it's giving them jobs or just hanging out and being their friends. I'd to just do whatever I can," Barnard says.

In addition to the keynote address, the students themselves gave speeches.

There was plenty of applause, some laughter, and even a few tears.

Special education teacher Barbie Nelson says she has cried a lot these past few days. She hasn't been able to say goodbye to her students, but there is one thing she did tell them.

"You are the star, and the world is watching you, and you have a right for your dreams to come true. You can be anything you want to be and I'll help you get there," Nelson says.

And about her students she wants everyone to know one thing.

"They have dreams. It’s our job to make the dreams come true and we've got to do it, people. We have got to include every special needs child and help their dream come true," she says.

One of the graduates lived one of her wishes this year.

"I was a queen at Northview, and it was my dream come true," senior Gracyn Holmes says.

To end the ceremony the special needs seniors, former graduates, and some other students filled a time capsule.

It will be buried next week behind the classroom they spent so much time in with plans to dig it up in ten years.

The special needs graduates will march again next week with the larger Northview Class of 2019 at commencement ceremonies.