Graduation to bring special meaning for autistic student on May 25
TEMPE – High school graduation will be especially meaningful for Jacob Morris and his family. Diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder, also known as ASD, Morris faced extreme anxiety and depression as his loved ones struggled to find a school that best suited his emotional and learning challenges. 

“When he first came to Banner Academy two years ago, he’d literally sit in the parking lot for hours before working up the courage to get out of the car,” said Banner Academy Special Education Teacher Judy Subaitis. “He has transformed to the point where he couldn’t wait to come to school, and his mood has improved so much that he no longer needs medication.” 

Morris’ family credits the small classes, therapeutic setting and supportive instructors at the school in helping the 18-year-old succeed at Banner Academy, and instilling in him a desire to continue his education beyond high school. He is considering going into the medical field. 

The nationally accredited private school, operated by non-profit Banner Health, has provided education to emotionally fragile children (such as those with learning disabilities, high-functioning ASD and other emotional disorders) for more than 30 years.

Morris will be among 10 students this year graduating from Banner Academy’s high school program. The ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. May 25 at Tempe Center for the Arts, 700 W. Rio Salado Parkway. 

The intimate event offers a more personal touch than many other graduation ceremonies occurring throughout the Valley. For example, each graduate is the recipient of a speech from a chosen school faculty member to share memories and anecdotal stories of their time at Banner Academy, and their accomplishments and successes.

Banner Academy, which serves students in grades 4 through 12, is located at 1410 W. 10th Place, Tempe, AZ 85281. Students who graduate from the school typically pursue post-secondary opportunities at the university, community college or vocational school levels.

“Jacob going to Banner Children's Academy has absolutely changed our lives,”  said his mother, Anita Morris of Gilbert. “The staff has been completely supportive of Jacob as a student and as an individual.”  

Banner Academy accepts students placed by school districts throughout the Valley, as well as students with scholarships from various Student Tuition Organizations. If you are a parent wanting to schedule a tour of the school, contact Shari Carlsted, principal, at (480) 827-5343.