Last week, I attended my daughter’s kindergarten end of the year celebration. It was modeled after a graduation ceremony — complete with caps, certificates rolled up as scrolls, and a performance of four intricately choreographed songs about their school year. My heart swelled with pride for my daughter’s accomplishments and my eyes filled with tears, realizing I was powerless to slow her transition from baby to big girl.
Graduations are a special time for our little ones to be celebrated. Most schools have some sort of event for their transitioning kindergartners, whether it’s a ceremony or general party. However, one school district in New Jersey did something very different. They treated their young students like “millionaires” for the day in honor of their accomplishment of learning a million things in kindergarten.
Beverly City School serves 315 students in pre-K through eighth grade. This year in order to honor their 30 kindergarten students, the district’s Director of Curriculum and Instruction Kerri Lawler pitched a new and unique idea to the district superintendent Elizabeth Giacobbe.
“Because of our school’s theme ‘Enter a Learner, Exit a Leader,’ we are always looking for ways to celebrate academic achievements. When I read about a school in Georgia that recognized students for reading a million words with a millionaire’s party, I went to our superintendent and pitched a similar idea,” Lawler tells Babble.
She was cheerleading for the dedicated kids. Lawler, continues:
“Our students deserve to be recognized for the great growth they have shown in kindergarten, and the community deserves to celebrate these kids. Our society places a great emphasis on the achievements of athletes and celebrities, but instead, focusing on students’ success in school should be the real celebration.”
The event was called “Look Who Learned a Million Things Millionaire Celebration,” featuring donated or district-funded activities. It started with the students leaving the school via a red carpet and limo to a local ice cream parlor for a special treat. After finishing their delicious snack, the students returned to school and were greeted by a crowd of fans, autograph seekers, and paparazzi (aka teachers, parents, and friends). They were then escorted by their very own security team (administrators) from the limo back to their classrooms.
Once inside, the little millionaires showcased some of the things they had learned over the course of the year. Students displayed their writing and science experiments, and demonstrated their math and reading skills. The showcase closed with a performance of a very unique song, featuring the days of the week sung to The Addams Family theme.
The day was an absolute success. According to Lawler, “Many students said that this was the best day of their lives. They loved the limo ride, loved having the ice cream parlor all to themselves, but were also so proud to show their parents how much they have learned during their showcase.” She went on to say that the parents were so appreciative of the school’s efforts to highlight their children’s accomplishments in this way. And the teachers made a point to stop by the office to say how moved they were by the experience, and seeing the excitement and pride in their students.
At this point, you may be thinking, “But did these kids really learn a million things in kindergarten?” So, I asked Lawler just that.
“The teachers are charged with insuring all our kids leave kindergarten ready to read, fluent in their math skills, good writers, Spanish speakers, musicians, artists, and physically fit. Not only that, they are also learning how to be good human beings,” she says. “These teachers impart all of this wisdom onto our kindergartners, and what they have learned is actually immeasurable.”
With the help of their generous donors, Beverly City School hopes to continue this tradition with their kindergarten classes each year. Kudos to this school for showing their students that their own hard work is just as valuable — if not more — than fame.