Schweinfurt congratulates its youngest graduates
June 22, 2009
SCHWEINFURT, Germany -- A group of 5-year-olds marched into the Child Development Center (CDC) gym June 19 dressed in blue caps and gowns for their graduation ceremony from the new Strong Beginnings program. This milestone signified a level of preparedness that each child attained in order to be ready for kindergarten in the fall.
"From January until now, it was a learning process, a growing process," said Mintina Houston, CDC director, about the Strong Beginnings program that kicked off in Schweinfurt for the first time at the beginning of this year.
Children met for class five days a week from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. to learn the basics of school protocol: standing in line, raising your hand, gathering in circle time and more.
"I think it's a really good program to prepare them for kindergarten so they are not scared," said Montia Colbert, assistant teacher of the program. "I'm going to miss them."
Guest speaker, Wilma Holt, Schweinfurt Elementary School principal, congratulated the children on their accomplishments and told them of their future responsibilities.
"You're going to have to be the leaders when you get to kindergarten," Holt said to the children during the ceremony.
Turning to the audience of family members, Holt explained how these graduates were one step ahead.
"These students have the knowledge of what school is like. They are going to be the role models," she said.
The five-month program sought to familiarize the children with a daily schedule. For three hours each day, they learned math, social studies, language, science, and the basics of school behavior.
"We see a big progress in the kids. It was really successful," said Katja Romberg, lead teacher for Strong Beginnings.
"Counting to 20 ... I felt like that was something they really needed to know," Colbert said. "(And) if you know how to write your name, you're good."
The children came up one by one to receive their diploma, and then they released balloons with their wish for kindergarten.
"I wish that everyone is nice to me," said Vianca Vasquez, 5 years old. Participants watched as the balloons soared away into the sky.
"All of the kids have come a long way. I think they're going to have a good transition into kindergarten," said Heidi Woodall, supervisory program lead.
"We appreciate the CDC starting this Strong Beginnings program, and we hope it continues," Holt said.