Cruz graduated preschool last Thursday in one of the sweetest children's programs I have ever witnessed. I mean, they walked down the aisle to the graduation song, for crying out loud. Every bit of it, from the red and blue caps and gowns, to the rainbow colored tassels with a gold "2016" adorned on them, and their rendition of "Lean on Me" made for one special and memorable night for our big sweetheart.
Cruz's preschool teachers, Ms. Nicole and Ms. Sara, started midyear after some expected turnover in our learning center's preschool. Both fresh out of student teaching, these two girls blew us away with their creativity, their constant communication, and their easy going energy and patience. Cruz loved his preschool days and it was always so fun for me to read Ms. Nicole's weekly updates to see what they were engaged in each week. From their makeshift mitten and animal puppets to go with the story "The Mitten," to their Wacky Wednesday of Dr. Seuss week, or their study of insects complete with a family of caterpillars and a release ceremony when they turned to butterflies, they kept them busy and engaged in so many fun and creative learning activities. They fueled such a spark for Cruz, one that I sure hope continues to burn as he marches through kindergarten next year.
It was no surprise Ms. Nicole and Ms. Sara planned an exciting last week for the preschoolers. Monday afternoon, Cruz's class had a park day at Lookout Park. Cruz helped me bake chocolate chip cookies the day before, and I, along with several other mamas, joined the class for a few hours that afternoon. So many of the kids have been together since babies, and them, and even us parents have grown together over the years. It was fun to see Cruz in his element with so many of his special friends, and nice to catch up with the sweet mamas that raise them.
Wednesday was their last day of preschool and the class voted to celebrate with a pajama party! Afterwards, Ms. Nicole posted pictures of their party for us to see, complete with graduation napkins and plates, a photo booth with "grad" glasses and hats, and lots of graduation-inspired games, including one adorable "pin the hat on the graduate" game. Cruz came home with a cumulative portfolio filled with artwork, pictures, and other artifacts from his year, as well as a paper sack filled with sweet gifts from his teachers. There was a ring pop with a label that read "class ring", a container of bubbles, and some freezy pops to stick in the freezer.
And as if they didn't work hard enough on their last week of preschool, their graduation ceremony was quite something. There was a table lined with pictures of each graduate in a personalized frame, programs with their names and soon-to-be elementary schools as a way to keep in touch, and those sweet gowns that strangely gave me glimpses to thirteen years from now and a little brown eyed boy graduating high school. As I tried to take his picture outside before the program, he was trying his best to be patient, but also easily distracted when he spotted his friends arriving. Something tells me this will only get worse by his next graduation. :)
My parents and grandparents came as well and we had such a fun night together. The kids were hilarious and adorable and I loved every minute of it. They marched down the aisle so proud, sang their four songs, each of their unique personalities shining through, and encouraged and cheered for each other during special parts. Cruz and his buddy, Eli, got to introduce the third song and when Cruz embraced his five seconds of fame and put their mic a little close to his mouth making for one loud announcement, he was embraced with equally loud cheers from his peers behind him. When it was time to accept their diplomas, every child got to march up individually, shake Ms. Nicole's hand, then turn to the crowd and present their paper, smiling from ear to ear. And every single one of them did this confidently, pride beaming from their cheesy grins. It was precious.
My favorite performance of the night...Lean on Me.
We celebrated afterwards with ice cream cones at Four Queens and a few gifts for the new grad. A five dollar bill from Great Grandma and Grandpa, a book called Flight School and a lego set from Grandma and Papa, and a new backpack for Kindergarten and Oh, The Places You Will Go, from us. I asked his teachers to write him a little note on the inside cover and hope to do this each year of school.
It was a big, exciting, and special week for the Cruz, and for us, too! This school, and all the teachers he's had, have blessed us continually with the way they love on our kids. And glad we don't have to say goodbye for a few more years, for this little lady will have her time someday, too. Thankfully, not too soon. :)
More pictures of Cruz, the graduate!