Learning early, learning well

By Helena Rodriguez, PNT Staff Writer

Best-selling author Robert Fulghum says all we really need to know, we learn in kindergarten.

With that said, 235 L.L. Brown Early Childhood Center students will graduate from kindergarten during 12 different ceremonies on Wednesday, Thursday and today. It marked a milestone in what is sure to be a continuing educational journey which will include at least a couple of more graduation ceremonies before it is over.

In Portales, students also graduate from eighth grade before moving up to high school. They then graduate from high school in 12th grade and many go on from there to graduate from college.

Instead of signifying the end of their public education, like high school graduations, the kindergarten ceremony signifies the beginning. And instead of “Pomp and Circumstance,” students this week marched to “Watch Them Grow” and sung songs to their parents, including, “One Green Jellybean” and “Elephants Have Wrinkles.”

Kindergarten teacher, Melanie Harrison, said the kindergarten graduation ceremony is all about celebrating students’ accomplishments.

“Kindergarten is not like it used to be,” said Harrison, noting that nowadays, most students can read before going on to first grade.

“Kindergarten is not all fun and games anymore,” said Theresa Lopez, an education assistant at L.L. Brown.

Jackie Burns, principal of Brown Early Childhood Center, agrees with Fulgham’s notion about kindergarten, saying, “I think even adults need to reread this book and its basic philosophy for life.”

For example, she said that in kindergarten children learn important lessons that they will carry with them throughout their lifetime. This includes social lessons on things such as sharing, taking turns and treating others the way you want to be treated.

“Besides everything they learn academically, they learn a tremendous amount socially,” Burns said.

Rena Hinderliter’s daughter, Kylie Bly, graduated on Thursday. She said, “The kindergarten graduation ceremony signifies to students that they have accomplished something and are now moving on to the next step.”

She added, “The lessons they learn in kindergarten helps give some stability to their everyday lives as they learn to read and write.”

Burns said L.L. Brown school has been holding kindergarten graduation ceremonies for the past 10 years.