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Okaloosa Schools celebrates graduates of innovative program for adults with intellectual disabilities

On Tuesday, May 21, the Okaloosa County School District honored three remarkable individuals – Reid Soria, Bailey Lamonte, and Diana Dowart – for successfully completing the Okaloosa Unique Professionals (Okaloosa UP) […]

Pictured left to right: Reid Soria, Bailey Lamonte, and Diana Dowart

On Tuesday, May 21, the Okaloosa County School District honored three remarkable individuals – Reid Soria, Bailey Lamonte, and Diana Dowart – for successfully completing the Okaloosa Unique Professionals (Okaloosa UP) program at Okaloosa Technical College.

  • Okaloosa UP is a specialized career instruction-comprehensive program designed for adults with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities, providing them with access to training and individualized support to develop specific career skills.

The graduation ceremony was attended by proud families and friends who gathered to celebrate the graduates’ significant achievements. Through the Okaloosa UP program, these students have earned occupational completion points for jobs embedded within CTE programs, career certificates for full program completion, and industry certifications or licensure.

Superintendent Marcus Chambers praised the graduates, stating, “This is not just a graduation but a stepping stone towards a brighter future, made possible by the transformative power of the Okaloosa UP program. The program’s comprehensive training and support have been instrumental in their success, and these students have not only overcome challenges but also soared to new heights, setting a shining example for all.”

The mission of Okaloosa UP is to empower adult students with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities by providing them with the tools and opportunities to develop specific career skills and secure competitive, integrated employment within their communities.

  • The program’s ultimate goal is to foster independence and help students lead fulfilling lives.

All three graduates received certificates for completing the Safe Staff Florida Food Handler and the Specialized Career Instruction Comprehensive courses. The success of these students can also be attributed to the dedicated staff at Okaloosa Technical College and the unwavering support of their families.

  • The district also extended its gratitude to the Hilton Garden Inn and Holiday Inn Resort for their support of the Okaloosa UP program.

In a testament to the program’s effectiveness, all three students secured employment during their last semester at Okaloosa Technical College.

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