Graduates: |


A.M. class --
Even Start Pre-kindergarten graduate Keibi Mejia, 5 smiles while getting her cap during the 2001-02 graduation at Empire Elementary school Wednesday evening. Placing the cap is Even Start's Peggy Sweetland. photo by Rick Gunn

Christopher Bird

Gardenia Bracamontes

Alonso Camanera

Brian Cano

Gabriel Carillo

Alvaro Castade-a

Chandler Dixon

Jefte Gonzalez

Jonathan Hernandez

Jacob Lockhart

Keibi Mejia

Amanda Miller

Juan Luis Novoa

Analie Orozco

Christopher Ortiz

Daniel Ortiz

Mayra Platero

Alondra Ulloa

P.M. class —

Alex Alonso

Jesica Cacho

Ramon Cervantez

Jocelyn Gomez

Gerardo Gonzalez

Alejandro Huizar

Courtney Keith

Ernesto Hernandez

Joshus Ibarra

Rosy Lorenzo

Monica Luna

David Ortega

Erasmo Orozco

Jose Carlos Ortiz

Ricardo Peregrina

Melissa Ramirez

Karla Reyes

Haley Rickards

Rosa Salguero

Fernando Torres

Francisco Villanueva

Next step: kindergarten

by Teri Vance, Appeal Staff Writer

Dressed in cap and gown, 41 students bid a symbolic farewell to their old lives and prepared for the next big step — kindergarten.

“I want to go to kindergarten,” said Gerardo Gonzalez, 5. “It’s fun to play.”

Empire Elementary School held its first pre-kindergarten graduation ceremony through the Even Start program Wednesday evening.

“Remember you are your child’s first teacher,” Principal Pat Carpenter counseled parents. “Without your support and encouragment, they wouldn’t have been able to do what they’ve done. We look forward to working with you in the future.”

The Even Start program is dedicated to ending generational illiteracy by working with both parents and children. Advocates from the program go into the home weekly to work with children and parents are required to enroll in either an English or adult education class.

Miguel Carillo attended to watch his 5-year-old son, Gabriel, graduate from the program.

“I think this program is good for them to learn what they need to know for the future in school,” he said. “They will learn better how to communicate with society.”

Norma Sanchez attended the ceremony although her son, Andres Sandoval, 7, was not a graduate but part of the Even Start program.

She has balanced working and taking classes in English with raising her son as a single mother.

“It’s definitely worth it,” she said in Spanish. “It’s as much for the parents as it is for the children in a new country, all learning a new culture.”

Directors Nancy Berg and Peggy Sweetland have worked with many of the students since they were toddlers.

“We’re going to cry,” Berg said. “They’ve grown up so much since the beginning.”

The graduates performed a series of songs from “Humpty Dumpty” to “Rima de Chocolate” as part of the ceremony.

“I liked learning the songs,” said Jonathan Hernandez, 5. “I like to sing to my mom.”

After the performance, the students dressed in cap and gown to accept their diplomas.

“I’m so excited,” said Jocelyn Gomez, 5. “It is good.”