By RACHAEL GRAY
Stopping to receive certificates, pick up an American flag and shake the hand of a city commissioner, 14 Mosaic clients were recognized Wednesday during a ceremony as graduates of the College for Life Citizen's Academy.
The graduates are clients of Mosaic, which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing possibilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities.
The class, which was made up of six two-hour learning sessions, focused on touring Garden City, civic pride and responsibility, and voting and the presidential candidates.
Jean Warta, GCCC business and community education director, spoke at Wednesday's ceremony.
Warta said she was proud of the academy class members, who committed themselves to learning.
Beth Tedrow, dean of student services, also addressed the graduates.
"I'm so proud of you all for completing this course," she said. "You all are an important part of Garden City."
The graduates included Jason Cooper, Barbara Endorf, Ryan Isaac, Kristi John, Bill Johnson, Dale McClellan, Lisa Monical, Brenna Puckett, Joe Sales, Judy Sandoval, Alice Sutton, Mercedes Vassar, Bill Vehige and Erin Williams.
Fourteen students also took some of the classes. Muriel Beitler was one of those students.
"I learned quite a bit. It's good we get to come here and get an education," she said.
Debbie Reynolds, executive director at Mosaic, said the course is a great experience for the clients.
"It really educates them on the history of our city. And Garden City is so diverse. They got to learn about some of the different cultures here," she said.
Reynolds said some of the clients will be voting for the first time in the presidential election Nov. 6.
"It's really beneficial they got to learn about each candidate and what he stands for because we're nearing the election," she said.
During the August sessions, participants learned about downtown history and historic preservation, including a tour of the Garden City Administrative Center and a chance to observe government operations.¬ The class members also focused on community strengths and weaknesses and created their own hypothetical city.
In the September gatherings, the group discussed good citizenship, learned about the community's cultural diversity and met representatives of some of the various cultures present in the community.¬ They devoted October to learning about casting ballots, registering to vote, discovering where and how to vote and finding out about candidates.
The program is a partnership between the college and Mosaic.
"We are working together to help produce positive contributors to the economic and social well-being of society," Warta said.
GCCC has provided a College for Life program to assist Mosaic clients for the past two years, but this is the first year the partnership has included the citizen's academy component.
In addition to the 14 graduates, who have attended all of the sessions, organizers are anticipating recognition of approximately 14 additional Mosaic clients for their attendance at some of the segments.