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June 5, 2004

VSDB students graduate with gained independence

From: Staunton News Leader, VA - Jun 5, 2004

By Bonnie Naumann/staff

STAUNTON -- A morning ceremony Friday at the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind in Staunton honored seven graduating students. Hands were raised in applause and clapped together.

Graduate Joshua Eubank gave a speech filled with self-confession and wisdom. When he first came to VSDB he kept messing up and going down the wrong stairs.

"While everyone was willing to help me, they enabled me to do things independently," he said, later adding, "Isn't that really what life is about -- rising to the challenges that arise day to day?"

The lessons he learned, he said after the ceremony, helped him feel ready to face an upcoming summer internship with a technology company and course of study at the Richmond Rehabilitation Center.

In fact, Eubank said in his speech, he felt sure he was just as prepared as non-disabled high school graduates.

"Are they any more prepared? Are their parents any more ready to pay for college?" Eubank asked his classmates. Smirking, he added, "We've been facing challenges since day one. We're used to it by now."

As for success after graduation, Eubank said, he and his classmates shouldn't measure their success by the size of their paycheck or the number of windows in their office, but by the contributions they can make to society and the quality of life they can provide for others.

"Ask not what others can do for you," Eubank said, "Ask what you can do independently."

After concluding with those words, Eubank used his cane as a guide to navigate across the stage, down steps and back to his seat in the front row. A few moments later, he walked with his classmates out to a reception. Along the way, they were greeted by pats on the back and hand shakes.

Outside, Will Stroud, who graduated from the department of the deaf, spoke with family members and a large circle of friends. Before he came to VSDB at age 14, he said, he wasn't able to make many friends. He was followed everywhere in a public middle school by a translator.

When asked what he learned at VSDB, Stroud said, "How to speak up."

VSDB Graduates


Joshua Eubank

Angela Whitson

Jessica Bowen


Christina Jacobs

Stephanie Price

Tessa Whetzel

Will Stroud

Copyright ©2004 The News Leader. All rights reserved.