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Pre-K graduation at Butler Elementary
Posted in , on May 23, 2024

Pre-K students ready for the next step

Donovan was ready.

Pre-K graduation at Butler ElementaryWhen his teacher called his name, he bounded up the steps and strutted across the stage with man-sized strides and giant arm swings. Decked out in a sharp red polo and khaki pants, Donovan collected his pre-K diploma, found his spot on stage and flashed a million-dollar smile at all the family and friends in the audience.

There were lots of those happy smiles at Butler Elementary’s pre-K graduation this week – and at pre-K graduations all across Arlington ISD.

Kathryn O’Neal, one of Butler’s two pre-K teachers, thanked the parents and families for entrusting their little ones with her. She probably spoke for every pre-K class in the world when she described her students.

“Your children are joyful and energetic,” she said. “And loving and energetic. And empathetic and energetic. And kind and funny. And did I mention energetic?”

Butler’s other pre-K teacher, Brittany Lee, shared a moment she had in class recently when she realized the end of the year was fast approaching – and maybe a little too quickly.

“This is my little family,” Lee said, “and I’m going to miss them.”

Lee wasn’t the only one who got emotional at the graduation.Pre-K graduation at Butler Elementary

Dr. Jackeline Orsini, Arlington ISD’s director of early childhood learning, did too.

“There are tears in my eyes,” Orsini said. “As an educator, I know how much it takes for kids to get to this point. They come to the school at the beginning of the year not knowing what’s going to happen. It’s a new world, a new environment. Seeing them now so confident, so happy, in love with school – it’s amazing.”

The transformation that 4-year-olds go through from August to May is truly amazing.

“It’s about that safe, loving environment and making sure that in their first experience in school they feel loved, safe and nurtured,” said Butler principal Mark Basham.

It’s also about a commitment Arlington ISD has made to pre-K students.

“Arlington ISD is very special,” Basham said to the parents during the graduation ceremony. “They committed that we are going to offer pre-K to every student in our district, and that is not available to every student across the state. Only a handful of districts have picked up this commitment.”

That commitment is why Matthew Hall from Raise Your Hand Texas – a non-profit that supports public schools and advocates for more pre-K in the state – came to Butler’s pre-K graduation. He brought refreshments for everyone to enjoy after the ceremony.

“Early learning education is critical for the future of our workforce in Texas,” Hall said. “Raise Your Hand Texas is always grateful for opportunities to work alongside local partners, school districts and the business community to highlight programs like pre-K. We are honored to sponsor this awards ceremony.”

Colorful Kooken

Kooken Educational Center – Arlington ISD’s only all-pre-K campus for 3-year-olds – held an end-of-the-year ceremony, too, but it was a little different than at other schools. Their ceremony wasn’t a graduation. Pre-K end-of-year ceremony at Kooken

“We don’t do a graduation, as our kids move on to ‘big school’ and continue in pre-K 4 classes next year on their home campuses,” said Tara Lane, Kooken’s assistant principal.

But it was just as fun – and colorful.

A group of volunteer parents decorated the gym in a Crayola theme complete with four colorful photo booths. The students sang songs during the ceremony and the teachers celebrated the students’ growth before giving them their certificates of completion.

“This year all of our students are also receiving a Junior Master Gardner Award for participating in the Texas A&M Extension Program that teaches kids about healthy food choices, growing our own foods, how plants grow, etc.,” Lane said.

Pre-K is the foundation

Pre-K graduation at Butler ElementaryIt’s time for this year’s pre-K students to move on to kindergarten or ‘big school,’ and like Donovan, they’re ready.

“Having had pre-K, they are just ready to take off,” O’Neal said.

Arlington ISD’s innovative pre-K lays the foundation for a lifetime of learning, and it sets students up for success in kindergarten and beyond.

If you have a little learner ready for pre-K, we have a spot for them in Arlington ISD. The next school year starts in less than three months, so register here today.