The ceremonies drew massive crowds of parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, neighbors and babysitters. All of those involved were beaming with pride as their children who have yet to enter grade school performed intricate activities requiring memorization and spirit.
“Research has shown that early childhood education is the foundation for economic development in terms of development of a ready workforce,” said Rufus Tyler, executive director of the Improvement Association. “Statistics have shown if they leave a quality program and do well, they do well later on in life as well.”
Children memorized and recited a poem called “I Am Somebody”:
I am somebody!
The Me I see is the me I’ll be.
Respect me, protect me, never reject me.
Down with dope, up with hope.
Everyday in every way, I’m getting better and better.
I am happy, I am healthy, I am hopeful.
I am bold, I am brave, I am beautiful.
It’s not what your called, but what you answer to.
It’s not the clothes that make the person,
It’s the person who makes the clothes.
If it’s to be, then it’s up to me.
It’s not what you think you are that hinders you,
It’s what you think you’re not
Never go to bed a loser; always wake up a winner.
Shoot for the moon and if you don’t hit the moon
At least you’ll land among the stars.
Act the way you want to become,
And soon you’ll become the way you act.
I can, I will, I must!
My mind is a pearl
I can do anything in the world.
Your attitude determines your altitude.
What you think about, you bring about.
“A mind is a terrible thing to waste.”
Work hard and watch good things happen.
Whatever you do, do it so well that no man living,
No man dead,
No men yet to be born can do it better than you!
That poem is 217 words. Miranda Rights recited by police is 64 words. Head Start has produced children able to recite 217 words before kindergarten, and the poem is not versed or songlike.
The pride that family and friends feel is real. One mother in the auditorium was next to tears with excitement after hearing her child, maybe four years of age, reciting a poem.
The children also sang songs and did choreographed dances. President Lyndon Johnson introduced the Head Start 51 years ago to prepare disadvantaged youth for the public school system.
The Improvement Association works hand in hand with the School Boards and governing bodies across the region to provide a “Head Start” at no cost to parents. The statistics of increased graduation and postsecondary education were not available at press time, but these children are more than prepared to enter kindergarten.
Featured Photo: Ben May/Sussex-Surry Dispatch
Students line up on the stage during the Surry Head Start graduation earlier this month.