PRESIDIO OF MONTEREY, Calif. (June 8, 2022) – Wearing blue graduation caps and gowns, 27 children from the Strong Beginnings PreK program at the Presidio of Monterey received their diplomas during a graduation ceremony at the installation’s Child Development Center on June 3.
Not only did the graduates demonstrate their readiness for kindergarten with a song and dance that showcased their mastery of the alphabet, they also recited the Pledge of Allegiance flawlessly and displayed exemplary behavior throughout the ceremony.
Speakers included Norma Short, the program’s lead teacher, Traci Gibson, director of the CDC, and Col. Varman Chhoeung, commander of U.S. Army Garrison Presidio of Monterey, who noted that the Army’s Strong Beginnings program contributes to readiness and the strength of the nation as a whole.
Chhoeung told parents, “You all play an extremely important role in the future of our country and the defense of our nation. It starts right here and it starts at home. Don’t ever forget that. It is more important than any rank that you will put on. It’s more important than the paycheck you bring home.”
Chhoeung congratulated the children and said he was confident they would do a great job in kindergarten. “What I want you to do is remember to be nice to one another, learn everything you can and have fun,” he said.
Short, who presented each child with a diploma, thanked the program’s staff members and said it was a special day for them all.
“Your children have worked hard throughout the year learning the sound of each letter in the alphabet and counting to 100,” Short told parents. “When we see that the children are grasping each lesson and learning, the team and I take pride in that moment.”
Gibson urged the graduates to take the high expectations they learned in Strong Beginnings and apply them to everything they do in the future. “Be friendly. Be kind and compassionate to your friends. Help others out when they’re in need,” she said.
She also asked the graduates to return for visits.
“I wish you all the best as you start kindergarten,” Gibson said. “I hope you come and visit us and let us know everything that’s going on. We want to know all about your adventures as you move on to kindergarten.”
Strong Beginnings is an Army program that is available at most garrisons and it promotes academic readiness skills and resiliency as children transition to kindergarten. Children who are 4 years old and will enter kindergarten the next school year are eligible to enroll. For more information, call Parent Central Services at (831) 242-7765.