More than 150 parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles gathered in the gym at Fountain Elementary in Roseville on the morning of June 13 for the 2013 kindergarten class graduation.
“This is a big deal for parents,” said Principal Faye Bucci, who brought the kindergarten graduation program to the school years ago. “They are 5 years old and they are going into first grade — they know how to read now, they can count, they have friends – it’s another milestone.
“There are a lot of milestones in a child’s life, but this is one of them, and it’s wonderful.”
Before the graduation could commence, kindergarten teachers Monique Bil and Kathy Hartsig set up class in the front of the gym to give families an up-close look at what daily life was like in kindergarten.
With all 50 kids sitting cross-legged on colorful carpets, Bil and Hartsig led them through a variety of daily activities. They pledged allegiance to the flag, recited the days of the week, counted the dates in the month, talked about what the weather was like outside and read two sentences out loud, while the audience smiled and cheered.
One by one they were called up to receive a certificate and share with the audience their favorite thing about kindergarten. Most responded, “recess.” A few kids said they liked the blocks and Legos. Others mentioned field trips, assemblies and special activities — like the butterfly release they did in the spring.
But some had answers that had the audience laughing out loud, like “rest time,” “lunch,” “eating snacks” and “getting a reward after rest time.”
Instead of throwing caps into the air, this graduation ceremony ended in a song and dance that had the kids bouncing with excitement as they returned to the carpet. The parents who had attended this ceremony with older siblings knew what was coming next and grabbed their cameras, video recorders and smartphones to capture the silliness of the Tooty Ta.
“I love it,” said Elizabeth Hull, who attended the graduation for her youngest son. “I love the Tooty Ta. Every year they do it, and I just think it is the best.”
With thumbs up, elbows back, feet apart, knees together, bottoms up and tongue out, the kids sang out “a tooty ta, a tooty ta, tooty ta ta.”
“You know what? I was up this morning really not feeling that good, but after I seen the kids smiling, getting their certificates and doing the little Tooty Ta, I am feeling good,” said Jermaine McGlaun, while his 5-year-old, Jaiyla, finished up the Tooty Ta. “I’m really happy today. I’m very proud of my little daughter”
Laughter and smiles weren’t the only thing to come from the Tooty Ta — after the dance was finished, it was time to say goodbye. Bil and Hartsig prepared a statement, which they read together.
“After having spent nine months together in our classrooms, we’ve grown close, we’ve become part of each others’ lives, and we will always keep a little bit of them with us. We have lived, loved, laughed, studied, learned and enriched our lives this year. We wish it could have gone on indefinitely, but give them back to you we must.”
Bil began tearing up as she told the families in the audience that they would always be interested in their children — where they go, what they do, who they become.
“It’s really hard to see them go,” Bil said after the ceremony. “They were a really good group of kids. They are amazing and I will miss them.”
“You get so attached to them, it’s hard; you just want to take them as your own,” Hartsig added.
Many of the families felt the same way.
“(They) are so dedicated,” said Michael Regoni, whose grandson, Warren, had just graduated. “They have done an awesome job with the kids. My interaction with both of them has been outstanding throughout the entire year. Warren loves them both. They did a really, really good job.”
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