“It’s too soon,” an emotional Johnny Gibson said about his daughter’s graduation from pre-kindergarten.
His daughter, Savannah Avelar, was among about 140 children who took part in the pre-K commencement for Heronville Elementary, held Tuesday at the Capitol Hill High School auditorium.
Heronville is the largest elementary school in the Oklahoma City Public School system with more than 1,000 children enrolled, Principal Leon Hill said.
Before the ceremony, students were prepped in the hallway by lead teacher Karen Simpkins. Syanne Attocknie said she was excited to graduate.
“I feel happy,” she said.
Madison Pelayo and Jose Salinas said they are excited and ready to move on to kindergarten. David Connor Ruppert was more subdued, simply nodding yes when asked if he felt nervous.
Hill told the audience, “It is hard to believe that at the beginning of the year we had students and we had parents that did not want to be separated, and now look at how far they’ve come.”
After reciting pledges of allegiance to the U.S. and Oklahoma flags, the students participated in a musical medley directed by music teacher Ben Clifton, offering such numbers as “La Bamba,” “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” and “Let It Go” from the Disney movie Frozen.
The graduates were recognized individually, walking across the stage to be greeted by Hill. As the ceremony ended, the children sang along and danced to the Pharrell Williams song, “Happy,” as they exited the auditorium for the reception.
Angelina Ponce, the mother of graduate Neftaly Ponce, described what the ceremony meant to her.
“I’m very happy; she did a very good job. She was shy; she just said ‘hi’ and ran down the steps. She was really excited.”
“It’s absolutely necessary, prekindergarten, the program is absolutely necessary,” Hill said. “We’re seeing so much growth in our children it’s unbelievable.”
Hill said the pre-K ceremony has replaced kindergarten graduation, “because it’s an expectation now that everybody’s coming to pre-K and moving themselves up.”
He said the pre-kindergarten ceremony would be the last graduation his students will have until they reach high school.