Hugging her giant teddy bear, new Creslane kindergarten ”graduate” Kendyl Mendonca gets a big hug of her own from stepdad Andy Normand during last Friday’s Teddy Bear Picnic. GINI DAVIS/THE CRESWELL CHRONICLE
Held outdoors in the courtyard rather than the school gym for the first time since all-day kindergarten began three years ago, Creslane kindergartners and their families – and each child’s favorite teddy bear or other stuffed animal – gathered for the annual Teddy Bear Picnic on the morning of June 15, the last day of the 2017-18 school year.
Led by Creslane music teacher and choir director, Erik Telfer, kindergartners, their stuffed animals sitting patiently at their feet, first charmed the audience with several teddy bear-themed songs, including ”Teddy Bear, Teddy Bear,” ”Kuma San” (”Teddy Bear” in Japanese), ”The Bear Went Over the Mountain” and ”Wee Willie Winkie.”
The students also performed the delightful ”Gummy Bear Dance.” They closed their little concert with ”Safe, Respectful and Responsible,” a song based on Creslane’s student conduct goals, and a friendly ”Criss Cross Applesauce” competition among the four kindergarten classrooms.
”It involves high and low sounds and finishes with ‘pepperoni pizza,’” Telfer described, explaining the song’s patterned sounds and movements.
”Families, friends, I introduce you to the future graduating class of 2030,” kindergarten teacher Chemen Clearwaters said, drawing applause.
Turned loose to celebrate, the exuberant incoming first graders and their families then spread blankets on the grass and around the courtyard and shared a casual picnic. Proud parents presented their children with flowers, balloons or other little congratulatory gifts, and cuddled up with them to leaf through the students’ kindergarten memory books and the packets containing their kindergarten promotion certificates.
Live music by Mike and Carleen McCornack and cellist Dale Bradley enticed some of the students to dance in the courtyard, and kindergarten teachers Cheryl Clancey, Debbie Larson, Shawna Bradley and Clearwaters circulated, visiting with families and dispensing hugs and posing for snapshots with their students.
The Teddy Bear Picnic caps a kindergarten year dotted with several special, family-centered events designed to help ease the youngsters’ transition from home or preschool to a full school day.
Each December, kindergartners and their dads construct gingerbread houses, and in May, moms join their kindergartners for a Mother’s Tea. But perhaps most special of all is the Teddy Bear Picnic, which welcomes entire families and celebrates a key milestone in the kids’ lives: the transition from kindergarten to the ”numbered” grades (first, second, third, etc.) that count ”up” to their high school graduation.
That future milestone seems yet far away for these mostly six-year-old members of the high school Class of 2030, ”but those years go by fast,” Clancey noted, advising parents to treasure every moment of the whirlwind to come.