Peninsula School District’s Community Transition Program has made a transition of its own, from a rented building at the Soundview Annex to the newly purchased PSD Annex in the Gig Harbor Business Park.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony last Wednesday at Building E in the business park located at 5800 Soundview Drive made it official.
CTP is an after-high school program designed to get 18- to 21-year-old students — most with special needs — the experience they need to become self-sufficient and prepare to assimilate into the community. Students from both Gig Harbor and Peninsula high schools participate.
The five-day-a-week program includes working jobs or volunteering, community-based projects, shopping and gaining social and communication skills.
“It’s a fabulous program,” Peninsula School District Academic Officer Dan Gregory said. “The students deserve the program they have. The new building is deserved, too.”
Doris Walden, a CTP teacher, said the new building, which the school district purchased last year, is a vast improvement over the program’s previous location.
“I love it,” she said. “It’s a long time coming.”
PSD Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto agreed, saying plans to move CTP to a new building have been in the works for 15 years.
“We were looking for just the right place,” Gregory said, describing CTP’s new home as a “good fit.”
CTP’s new location works well for everybody, Walden said, adding she and others will no longer have to worry about making regular repairs to fix up whatever went wrong in their previously rented building.
“This building is a blessing for us,” she said.
Vicki Birch, a CTP paraeducator and job coach who has been with the program since it started in 1987, also had high praise for the building and what it will mean to the adults who put in so much work to become independent.
“It’s nicer,” she said. “It’s taking me a while to get used to.”
On a more practical level, she said the building has nearby access to a bus stop, and businesses that provide various goods and services are within walking distance.
The CTP program also benefits older people, Birch said.
“This program will keep you young,” she said with a smile.
The young people who attended the grand opening smiled. Two of them submitted handwritten notes regarding their feelings about the program.
“CTP is my school where I learn about new jobs and meet new people,” Josh Burkey wrote. “I have worked many places. I’m learning what I like to do and what I’m good at. I am good at many things! At CTP we work hard and laugh a lot.”
“The friends that I have in CTP are my world,” Riley Sullivan wrote. “I get excited every day to see my friends at CTP. When I can’t see them, I am sad.
“The training that I get at CTP for a job is awesome. The teachers are very nice and supportive. I am very happy her at CTP, and I will be sad to leave when I am 21 years old.”Reporter Brett Davis can be reached at 253-358-4151 or by email at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter, @gateway_brett.