NASHUA – In an evening rife with applause, laughter and cheers, Tyler Gauthier was glad to contribute more than his share.

“I don’t know about y’all, but I’m ready to go,” the lanky youth blurted, setting the tone for one of the most animated, if brief, commencement speeches on record. “It’s time to get a job!”

An appreciative audience numbering close to 100 filled the Carl Amelio Room at St. Joseph Hospital on Monday night to celebrate Gauthier and nine other young men and women who make up this year’s graduating class of Project SEARCH, a unique school-to-work program in which young adults with intellectual disabilities learn job skills and serve internships in the hospital.

The goal of the course, which runs nine months each year, is to prepare its graduates for full- or part-time positions in their chosen field.

Nashua’s Project SEARCH, in its fourth year, is the first in New England.

“This night is about you and for you,” Project SEARCH business liaison Kathleen Rice Orshak told the 10 graduates seated up front facing the audience. “We gather here to celebrate all your accomplishments. We are very, very proud.”

Mayor Donnalee Lozeau praised the graduates for their perseverance, urging them to “make good choices and don’t be afraid of challenges” that come their way. “SEARCH means searching out the right people for the right job. … I wish for you to love your job and feel good about what you’re doing,” she added.

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