The children are seated for the celebration. The chatter is minimal as teachers distribute large, round sugar cookies with sprinkles and scoops of vanilla ice cream. Sitting at a table in the front of the room are 10-year-old Joseph and 11-year-old Lucus. The two classmates wear blue graduation caps made of paper.
“Some of my earliest memories of day school is eating,” Lucas laughs. Lucas and Joseph have attended Baptist Children’s Homes’ “five star” Weekday Education (WE) program in Thomasville for 11 years.
“I’ll miss things,” Joseph says about graduating the WE After-School program. “I’ll miss the friends I’ve made. I’ve met friends that I don’t go to school with – I only see them here.”
The after-school care is available from the time school dismisses until 6 p.m. during the school year. Transportation is provided to children attending area public elementary schools. Inside and outside activities plus homework time are part of every day.
Both boys were only infants when they began attending the WE state-of-the-art Fleshman-Pratt Education Center. The Center provides quality full-day child care for children ages six weeks to age five in a home-like setting.
“You don’t remember much from that time – you’re so little,” Lucus says. “But I know my parents were pleased. Me, my brother and sister all attended here.”
For Lucas, this is the first summer that he will not participate in the WE summer program. During the summer program, children ages kindergarten to fifth grade have education opportunities, attend on-site Vacation Bible School, enjoy the Mills Home pool, and take field trips.
“Summer is always fun,” Lucas says. “Swimming almost every day was a favorite thing. I looked forward to it every year.”
At preschool age, the duo moved up from Fleshman-Pratt to the WE Robert Idol Child Development Center. The Child Development Center offers a quality setting for preschool children in two classrooms offering the North Carolina Pre-Kindergarten Program. Daily activities focus on a child’s total development – educational, social, emotional, and physical. The emphasis of the curriculum is to provide an age appropriate kindergarten readiness program so children enter school ready to learn.
“It has been a good thing for me to be here – now and when I was little,” Joseph says. “I’ve always felt safe and learned things. There have been days I didn’t want to leave.”
Joseph and Lucas say they liked being the big kids in the program this year. They also liked the idea that their 11-year mark has few or no rivals for tenure in care.
“One day when I’m a parent,” Joseph reflects, “I’ll probably send my kids here, too. I know they would enjoy it as much as I have.”
For more WE information, contact Linda Russo at 336-474-1313 or go to www.bchfamily.org/help/weekday.