Nursery school awards diplomas Kids graduate from preschool

June 17, 1993|By Sherry Joe | Sherry Joe,Staff Writer

Kelly Balkin said her preschool has prepared her well for kindergarten.

"I learned the ABCs and I learned about bugs that blend in with their environment," the five-year-old said.

Yesterday, Kelly was among 18 preschoolers who graduated from Wilde Lake Children's Nursery, the oldest cooperative nursery school in Columbia.

Sporting handmade mortarboards, the children sang songs, and formed letters of the alphabet with their bodies.

School president Harriet Meyers said the ceremony was designed to show the four- and five-year-old kids that their nursery school years are over.

"It kind of marks an end and a beginning for the kids," Ms. Meyers said.

As they accepted their diplomas, teacher and school director Claire Femiano said something special about each graduate.

"Sarah, we'll remember your beautiful drawings . . . and your special smile," Ms. Femiano said of Sarah Adler, 5.

Sarah said she will miss the school's ant farm, but looks forward to attending kindergarten with one of her best friends from the nursery school.

Ms. Femiano also gave the graduates a pep talk to prepare them for the rigors of kindergarten and beyond.

"The sad part is that Pam and I won't be your teachers any more but the happy part is we'll be friends forever and ever and ever," she said.

But one youngster piped up: "Not when we die."

After they received their diplomas, the children snacked on apple slices, red jello, chocolate chip cookies and juice.

Parents said they are impressed with the 26-year-old school because of its dedicated teaching staff and emphasis on parental involvement.

"Being a cooperative nursery school, it lends itself to total parental involvement," said Denise Saks, whose 4 1/2 -year-old son, Jordan, became the family's second graduate from the program.

The cooperative nursery school is a nonprofit organization operated by parents. Once a month, parents are required to volunteer in the classroom, bring a snack or present a project to the class. Parent volunteers also form an executive board of directors, raise and allocate funds, and clean the school grounds.

A professional teaching staff oversees three classes of children ranging in age from two to four. About 50 Howard County children attend the school.

Ms. Femiano, the school's director, said she tries to instill the children with high self-esteem, independence, and an ability to work well with others.

"We hope they feel good about themselves," Ms. Femiano said. "Learning to be part of a group, and being trustful of other adults besides their parents," are important goals too.

"They love the love of learning," said Jim Perrone after videotaping his daughter, Alyssa, accepting her diploma. "You learn a whole lot more when you love what you're learning instead of dreading it."

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