YMCA Early Learning graduates moving up
Eighteen pre-kindergarten students, draped in caps and gowns, graduated from the YMCA of Collier County’s “Early Learning” program, on Marco Island. Smiling faces from over 100 proud parents, relatives, friends and guests provided excitement to the ceremony and support for the children, inside of the Y’s Youth Development Center.
The program began with welcoming remarks from Stephanie Pepper, director of youth development, followed by the graduates reciting the Pledge of Allegiance. Cindy Love-Abounader, the CEO of the Y, followed with warm words of encouragement to the children and then read them a poem.
From that point on, it was all about the students.
When each child’s name was called, the child walked across the stage to receive a diploma from Kelly O’Connor, the pre-school director and teacher and Love-Abounader, and then all of the graduates delighted the audience by singing “Off to Kindergarten We Go,” “I’m a Graduate,” and “Thank You Song.”
Elaina Dorris, spoke proudly of her daughter, Evelyn, who has been with the YMCA’s childcare program for three years and has thrived so much. “She has everything she needs to be prepared for kindergarten and so much more. Even sign language!”
Love-Abounader commented that children crave acknowledgement and celebration from adults when they have successfully accomplished what they set out to do. Our graduation ceremony, we hope, is an acknowledgement of the children’s accomplishment. It not only helps the children understand the importance of education but also provides them with proud feelings received from completing something that they started. We are so proud of our graduates!”
In the morning of graduation day, the students toured the “Big Kids School” (a.k.a. Tommie Barfield Elementary) where they were welcomed by teachers and staff. The children were treated with a lunch, received a couple of books, and a goody bag filled with pencils, notebook, stickers, and goldfish and cheddar crackers.