Family Treatment Court Graduation Held

The Family Treatment Court (FTC) Program held a graduation ceremony on September 11, 2019 at 11:30am in Courtroom JM- 8. Gold and silver balloons decorated the courtroom, which was filled with the graduates and their family and friends.  Smiles and giggles were ever-present, and the feeling of joy and accomplishment could not be overstated. While the ceremony celebrated the graduation of seven participants from the FTC Program, only three were able to attend the ceremony, and so Dynan Duncan, Tyrita Cooper, and Carla Thompson took the stage with pride and confidence in how far they had come.

Before the graduates received their diplomas, several Court officials spoke to the graduates. Chief Judge Morin, for example, extended his congratulations and remarked how good it felt to hear and see smiling children in a courtroom.   The entire FTC team shared their words of encouragement with the graduates, praising their accomplishment and also motivating those present who are on the path to graduation. “Be the person you want your kids to see” was the overall message, and it clearly resonated with the graduates.

Awards were given to four participants for outstanding work and dedication within the program. Even though they have not yet graduated, a special congratulations went to Markisha Euell, Taniesha Mathis, Tila Williams, and Jennifer Gomez for their dedication as program participants, as they work towards graduation.

The most impactful aspect of the ceremony was the graduation itself, where all three of the graduates had something to say to the FTC team and the future graduates. Ms. Duncan was up first, where she was incredibly grateful for the team in front of her that helped her along the way. “I didn’t think I had a chance [to remain sober and keep her children].” Thankfully the FTC staff understood her needs and challenges.  After overcoming the stringent steps that the first stage of the program involves, she was able to say that she has made great strides towards overcoming her substance abuse disorder.

Following Ms. Duncan was Ms. Cooper, who looked to the future to help herself through the FTC process. “I have to give my child something to remember me.” She went on to tell current FTC participants to find something in their life to grab hold of to help them get through the process. “Whatever you have to do, get it done.” With the hard road she has gone through, it's clear she wants to do whatever she can to help those that follow her. 

Ms. Thompson gave an incredibly passionate speech about how her kids got her through FTC. “I was using to get rid of pain, but when my kids walked out the pain was worse.” While some grasp on to a career, personal goals or spouses to overcome a substance abuse disorder, Thompson’s children were clearly everything that got her through. “If you love your kids, you will finish this program,” she concluded.

The ceremony ended with Magistrate Judge Tara Fentress singing Thank You Lord For All You’ve Done For Me, reminding the graduates once again that they had come a long way, and they had much to celebrate.