The students of ADEC’s 2016-17 Project SEARCH class celebrated reaching the program’s halfway mark this month by hosting an Open House to show off their progress.

The highlight of the Open House was talking with Deric and Kayla, two best friends who decided to take on the challenges of Project SEARCH together.

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, this year’s class of four students set up creative poster board displays at Memorial Hospital as each person gave a short personal presentation to each group of visitors over the course of a few hours. This is a learning experience for the students, as it helps them prepare for interviews and sharing what they’ve done.

Deric has had a lot of success so far in his work at Memorial. He’s spent most of his time in environmental services, where he finds pleasure in even the smallest tasks.

“Dust mopping is the best,” Deric said. “Because when you dust mop, you go all around the hospital and see new rooms.”

Inspired by Deric’s success in environmental, Kayla decided to give it a try herself, and she agrees – being able to explore the hospital makes dust mopping the best job.

Deric and Kayla volunteered at the hospital during the holidays to ring the bell for the Salvation Army. They both put pictures from the experience on their poster boards and said they enjoyed getting to meet new people while giving back to their community.

Part of their work experience is taking the bus and making it to the classroom before the day begins. Both Deric and Kayla have been showing up early each morning because they look forward to the class so much. When asked if having a good friendship makes a difference, they nodded and laughed together.

ADEC’s Project SEARCH is a nine-month internship/classroom program for students in their last year of school who have completed the necessary qualifications. The program is hosted at Memorial Hospital in conjunction with South Bend Community School, Vocational Rehabilitation and Indiana University South Bend.