“Options” program at Charlotte Catholic provides college, career pathway for special needs students

Five students are participating in the Options program at Charlotte Catholic High School
Published: Oct. 27, 2021 at 5:55 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - A program at Charlotte Catholic High School is giving special needs students a direct pathway to college after graduation.

The “Options” Program started in 2011 as a pathway for K-12 students in the MAP and Matthew-Morgan Down Syndrome programs to succeed in the Catholic School system and after graduation.

The Modified Academic Program (MAP) is a self-contained program for students with special needs who require a modified curriculum.

Options began with inclusivity in mind by combining classrooms so special needs students can interact and learn with all of their peers and not be isolated.

Options revamped at the start of the 2021-2022 school year to provide a college and career readiness component for students at Charlotte Catholic High School.

16-year-old Isabella Correa is one of the five students in Options at CCHS.

“Universities and colleges are now finding it really relevant to have programs for students with intellectual and learning disabilities so we are just wanting to make sure that our kids have a clear pathway from elementary, middle, and high into college if that’s what they choose,” said Diocese of Charlotte Assistant Superintendent Allana Ramkissoon.

Here locally, Appalachian State has a program called Scholars with Diverse Abilities which is in line with the Options Program.

16-year-old Isabella Correa is one of the five students in Options at CCHS.

“I want to be a singer and a dancer,” Correa said.

In just 24 hours Correa will be performing their choreographed dance to the soundtrack of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Correa says she plans to major in an art program in college and says Options is helping her with her academics so she can pursue her dreams.

“A lot of life skills classes and a lot of the content that they’ll be doing is really geared toward setting them up to be really fruitful citizens,” Ramkissoon said.

Correa says she met some of her best friends in the Options program, with who she went to the Homecoming dance.

“We ate amazing my tacos [at dinner] and then came here and went to the dance,” Correa said.

As for her teachers who’ve watched her grow over the years - they’re beaming with pride seeing her advance each school year.

“To think of her walking across the stage, all of our students walking across that stage and getting their certificate and participating in the ceremony just as every other student is really going to be a remarkable experience,” said Options Program Teacher Shelley Floriani.

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