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‘We really miss them’

High school seniors aren’t the only ones craving a good ol’ graduation ceremony

Times Observer photos by Kate Cataldo Leah Gorgacz — YMCA Pre-K teacher for the 3-year-olds, taught the graduating students last year and came to see them and cheer them on.

It seems everybody has been craving a good graduation party.

The clouds broke and the sun peeked through on Friday morning for the YMCA Preschool graduation ceremony — albeit a unique one.

Parents lined up with their little graduates in tow to parade through the Warren County YMCA parking lot to receive their diplomas and officially get sent off kindergarten.

“I think I only cried once,” said Amy Carlson, Child Care Director at the Y, as she cheered on the students riding through to say their summer goodbyes.

YMCA Pre-K teacher Sandy Schott said she, staff, and parents collectively decided a Friday morning parade for the graduation ceremony would be the best and safest way to recognize the children in a special way for achieving their milestone.

Times Observer photos by Kate Cataldo Penelope Rex — Pre-K grad — is moving on up to kindergarten in the fall.

Many YMCA staff and relatives of the students showed up to show their support. Everyone was excited and in good spirits as they got a chance to see each other — even from a distance — and celebrate in a healthy way.

According to Carlson, the toughest part has been learning and going through the process of social distancing.

The drive-through parade was planned about two weeks ago when a “normal” ceremony wasn’t possible.

Schott said they typically do more for the kids to tell each of their stories.

In a typical graduation ceremony, they would share things like what the kids want to be when they grow up, what the kids’ favorite things are, and celebrate in a little more detail.

Times Observer photos by Kate Cataldo Staff cheering on student driving through graduation parade.

They may not have been able to organize a normal ceremony this year but, according to Schott, they were just happy to see them again and get the kids their gifts and diplomas.

Not only did the graduating Pre-K class get to ride through and see the YMCA teachers and staff, but the 3-year-old Pre-K class, and other child care kids, were also invited to come through after the graduates were all through the line.

“We really miss them,” said Carlson.

Times Observer photos by Kate Cataldo The gift bags and diplomas for the graduating class.

Times Observer photos by Kate Cataldo Amy Carlson, Child care director at YMCA, excitedly welcoming graduates through the parade.

Times Observer photos by Kate Cataldo Proud grandparents of a student cheering from a distance.

Times Observer photos by Kate Cataldo Braelyn Kent soaking up the cheers and smiles.

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