Pam Dudding Contributing writer
Graduation is always a special moment for any child, even the five and six-year-old kindergarten graduates.
On Thursday, May 17, the Craig County High School Auditorium stage was full with smiles of over 40 McCleary Elementary Kindergarten students attired in their red caps and gowns.
As family and friends poured into the auditorium, it was repeated that people could not believe the turnout. There seemed to be standing room only and the parking lot was overflowing on both sides of the schools.
Once Principal Gerri VanDyke took the stage, the chatter ended, almost like a classroom when the teacher wishes to speak.
She welcomed everyone to the Kindergarten Graduation commencement of 2019 classes with teachers Amanda Wente (K-1) and Nicole Persinger (K-2).
Music Teacher Alyssa Schulke led the students in their first selection, ‘The Hello Song.’ The stage came alive as the children stood up and started the song, adding their hand and body motions. They received a loud series of handclaps and hoots when they finished. Giggles and grins filled their faces.
It was followed by the class leading the audience in the Pledge of Allegiance and another song called, “Off We Go for the Sumer.” Again, most participated with what seemed to be no hesitancy.
The graduating kindergarten students were announced, and each received a diploma and a hug from their teacher. They were guided to walk to the little red schoolhouse and stand at its door for family members to take pictures. Some were a bit shy, while others spread their arms wide, posed or waved heartily.
The 2019 graduating kindergarten students of McCleary Elementary in Ms. Wente’s class were: Virginia Bostic, Allie Crowder, Erin-Leigh Dressler, Ainsley Francisco, James Green, Braxton Hibbitts, Bryan Hickson, Jayce Huffman, McKenna Jones, Liam Lopez, Colton Martin, Aubrey Meadows, Akira Nickels, Lily Richardson, Madalyn Rose, Ronan Snyder, Austin Stewart, Payton Trivette, Emery Whitlock and Kamber Worrell.
Twenty-two students made up Ms. Persinger’s class: Anastasia Aldridge, William Alls, Benjamin Arritt, Toby Belcher, Dallas Broughman, Natalee Burns, Joel Dressler, Trever Fisher, Micah Garey, Maya Handy, Samuel Keene, Noah Lamb, Rylee Mattox, Summer Medley, Zoey Rhodes, Easton Rutter, Maeleigh Slusher, Braylon Smith, Lily Strickland, Maggie Thomas, Kylee Tyree and Logan Wyatt.
Both teachers gave each student a big hug and word of encouragement.
Additional awards were given to students for physical education, perfect attendance and scholarships.
The other songs sung were, “May there Always be Sunshine,” “First Grade, First Grade” and “ABC You Later.”
The students made the songs come alive with their full charismatic gestures, seeming to fully enjoy themselves while they sang. Ms. Schulke beamed with delight as her choir’s voices and expressions filled the auditorium.
Following the ceremony, everyone was invited to the cafeteria for cookies and lemonade. Again, there was standing room only, but no one seemed to care as the kids and families were too busy talking and taking pictures as fast as their phone would click.
Kids gave each other hugs and said they would miss one another over the summer. Some even had their parents to meet so they could schedule a sleepover with their best friends sometime.
It seemed that all left happy. The kids got to play and talk with one another and the family’s cameras were overloaded with pictures they would soon share with others, including on Facebook.