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Their future is so bright...they gotta wear shades!

Graduating During a Pandemic

Every year, as the Program Coordinator for Rainbows’ Early Care and Education, I’m asked to write a blog about the Pre-K Graduation Ceremony.  Every year, I’m privileged to talk about how great my teaching staff are and how much the little ones have grown over the year(s) I’ve had the pleasure of knowing them. And how sad and proud I am to see them leave our little nest.  Every year Graduation and this blog are a constant in my world. But oh how different this year was for all of us.

COVID-19 hit the world and found its way into even our everyday lives in Wichita, Kansas.  So often the big problems of the big cities seem so far removed from my little world in Wichita.  That isn’t true anymore.  

We forged ahead in the Early Care and Education department.  We never closed, and my staff did a tremendous job of continuing to care for the children, their own families, and each other.  Slowly, but surely, most children came back to care, but some chose to remain at home. Pre-K Graduation was cancelled like so many other things.  And it was disappointing.  We said “It’s ok, because it’s for everyone’s safety.”  But really we were sad.  

Then something amazing happened.  We figured out a way we could have the ceremony safely, with masks and social distancing and immediate family only.  Different is better than nothing, right?  Right!

The kids were still excited; the staff and the parents so proud!  I literally cried when I saw Maddi walk, really walk, across the stage for her certificate.  The bond displayed between Munroe and Ms. Autumn brought joy to my heart and tears to my eyes.  All the children did such a remarkable job on that stage; it was obvious how much they’ve grown up!

Still, I was sad that I couldn’t be there in person.  I was waiting for COVID-19 test results for my own son, who is an essential worker.  I had to stay home to make sure that everyone was safe, like so many others, including grandparents, and aunts and uncles, and cousins and others that usually get to attend.  I watched our Kids’ Point Graduation by video…  It really was a sign of the times.  The very best sign of the times however, was watching those kids.  They embody the hopes and dreams of all of us- in person or on video.  Their future really is so bright… they gotta wear shades!  Best wishes Pre-K Class of 2020!

By Michelle Croomes, Program Coordinator