Two graduate from Carroll Springs School

Two students of Carroll Springs School in Westminster took the stage Thursday evening to celebrate their graduation.

Family, teachers and administrators joined Kyle Taylor and Benjamin Mulrenin in a ceremony at Carroll Community College’s Scott Center.


The evening’s festivities were a little different than the many graduations that will take place across the county over the next 10 days. Picture slideshows documented the accomplishments and fun memories of each graduate during their time at the school. Presents were exchanged, from students to their parents and from the school to the students.

Other elements of the graduation were similar to the many that will take place. Steve Johnson, the Carroll County Public Schools superintendent of instruction, certified the Maryland high school certificates for the graduates, which were presented by Board of Education members Marsha Herbert and Bob Lord.


Director of Special Education for CCPS Nick Shockney spoke about the students’ accomplishments during a keynote speech.

Speaking Thursday afternoon before the ceremony, Carroll Springs Principal Gretchen Rockafellow said, “There will be some tears. I think there will be some laughter. It should be a good evening.”

Carroll Springs School is a day school for special education students and those with multiple severe disabilities. Educators focus on job and life training skills and fostering independence. It serves students up to age 21. Both of Thursday’s graduates were aging out of the program.

On Thursday afternoon before the ceremony, Mulrenin could be found in the colorfully decorated halls of the school working with post-secondary special educator Rachael Mayer, who also works with Taylor.

On the wall of the classroom, portraits of both graduates dressed in their teal caps and gowns were displayed. At Thursday evening’s ceremony, a copy of each would be presented to their families.

Mulrenin communicated using a Pragmatic Organisation Dynamic Display communication book and said one of his favorite parts of the school day is being able to take a break.

Mayer said Mulrenin also enjoys activities where he is able to walk around the school using a gait trainer. He enjoys assisting the school food pantry by making deliveries to classrooms.

But one of his favorite tasks is traveling to the preschool classes to share poems and short stories. He activates switches which play audio recordings of the words for the classes.

“Ben really likes working with the younger, younger students,” Mayer said.

Mulrenin began attending Carroll Springs about five years ago after traveling all across the country with his military family before they settled in Maryland. He likes to spend time outdoors and enjoys taking nature walks with his mother. While the family lived in Hawaii, he enjoyed surfing, Mayer said.

Next year he will be living with his family as he waits for a spot with an agency that serves adults.

Rockafellow said Taylor has been attending Carroll Springs since he was 3 years old, and Thursday’s graduation is a celebration of the 18 years he has spent with them.


“Kyle loves school,” Rockafellow said.

He is especially fond of tasks that involve cleaning and working with velcro, Mayer said. He is involved with the Boy Scouts and actively participates in community events like parades and the Carroll County Arts Council's PEEPshow.

After graduation, he will be living with his family and waiting for a work placement.

“His plans for next year involve traveling. They plan on voyaging throughout Maryland, I believe,” Mayer said.

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