Because I’m happy…clap along if you feel like a room without a roof…because I’m happy…clap along if you feel like happiness is the truth. Those words echoed through the Greenpoint Y last Wednesday as its Early Childhood graduates made their way into the gymnasium, packed with teachers, friends and family eagerly awaiting 2014 commencement.
This year, 56 students earned their diplomas in a room decorated with live tree branches, student artwork and balloons—courtesy of Sybil Domond (People of 2morrow) whose daughter was among the grads.
“We love the program,” Domond said. “Not only do [the teachers] teach the children, but they love them.”
One of the biggest takeaways of the day was the importance of community. Youth and Family Director Angela Speakman, who has been with the Y for 16 years, expressed how much “heart” the Greenpoint Y community has. That heart wouldn’t be possible without volunteers (parents and others) who have gone “above and beyond” when it comes to helping the program, she said.
In particular, she acknowledged Melissa and Drew Wiedemann (Barking Photo) who capture those Kodak moments throughout the year; Sofia Douris and and Llubav Choy-Duerr for swimming during swim time; Anna Cobau for helping to create a community outside of the classroom; and all-star Margie White, an early-childhood-educator-in-training, who has made the year memorable for the students (while earning field credits for her studies).
The day was filled with presentations of every kind.
Clad in brightly colored hats, the graduates became Crayons, as they acted out one of their favorite books, “The Day the Crayons Quit,” narrated by their teachers. The book features disgruntled Crayons who decide they don’t want to play by the rules—orange and yellow stop speaking because each believes he is the true color of the sun, and black doesn’t want to just outline pretty pictures. Ultimately, readers have to help each solve its problem.
The literary presentations continued with class poems—four in total—that were received with applause from nearly a hundred people at the ceremony.
Students weren’t the only ones who took the stage. The Bilingual Birdies, a foreign language and live music program, performed several Spanish songs for the graduates and their families. The students, excited about what the future has in store, couldn’t stop dancing to Bilingual Birdies hits “Como estás” and “Mi cuerpo.” (“How Are You” and “My Body.)
The Bilingual Birdies are part of the Early Childhood yearly curriculum, designed to encourage “cross-cultural awareness through foreign language and live music curriculum,” according to The Bilingual Birdies website. “In our classes, children have the opportunity to develop a deeper sense of curiosity and compassion for others.”
As the graduates and their families enjoyed healthy snacks, ranging from fruit to spinach pies, a video featuring the year’s best moments played. And to permanently capture their days with the Early Childhood program, the teachers sent their graduates off with framed pictures of their class.
“It’s sad to see them go and graduate,” said teaching veteran, Fran Marcano “but you see the growth over the years…and you want what’s best for them.”
The Greenpoint YMCA Early Childhood program consists of three classes that run five days a week. Students take swim lessons and Spanish lessons once a week. Enrichment classes, including math, science, reading and creative movement, are also available for an extra fee.
Visit http://www.ymcanyc.org/greenpoint for more information about the Greenpoint Y and its Early Childhood program.