Wednesday - June 17, 2015

Damar Charter Academy Awards 1st Core 40 Diploma

For some children, earning enough credits to graduate from high school is a challenge. For children with developmental disabilities, it can seem unattainable.

That’s why Austin Hudson is a winner. Diagnosed with High Functioning Autism when he was 7 years old, Austin struggled with social and sensory challenges in the classroom. Four years ago, when Damar Charter Academy opened as Indiana’s first charter school for students K-12 with special needs, Austin was one of its first students.

When he arrived, he was chronologically a sophomore, but he only had 1 high school credit, in Physical Education. At the end of his first year at Damar Charter Academy, he had earned eight credits. In June, he graduated with a regular high school diploma, having earned the required 40 credits with a grade point average of 3.5 on a 4.0 scale.

“The fact that he graduated only a year behind his peers says a lot about what Austin and DCA staff and teachers were able to accomplish,” said his mom, Sherry Hudson.

Austin will attend Ivy Tech this fall. He plans to transition to Ball State University his junior year to get his degree in journalism, as he wants to be an author. Austin lives with family on the southeast side of Indianapolis. He works part time as a dishwasher at Buffalo Wild Wings and is writing his first novel.

Sherry, who spoke at the graduation ceremony, said, “So many people cared enough to help Austin overcome his sensory and behavioral disabilities to get him to where he is now – poised for college and well on his way to becoming a functional, productive member of society. We can never thank them enough.”

While other students have graduated from Damar Charter Academy, all of them have earned a Certificate of Completion, which is typical for kids with special needs. Austin is the school’s first student to earn a Core 40 high school diploma.

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